Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 20, 2013

Syria: Disunited Insurgents Lose Qusayr

The Syrian army seems to be successful in capturing Qusayr. It has thereby opened the transport routebetween Damascus and Lebanon while denying it as a resupply line for the insurgents in Homs governate. Within Qusayr an old armored Israeli Jeep (video) that had been used by the insurgents was found. There must be an interesting story behind this find.

There was a lot of twittering today between pro-insurgency folks about this or that insurgent group that had allegedly sold out or skipped away from the battle in Qusayr. The hundreds of insurgency "brigades" are disunited. The do not have the same motives and aims and therefor lack cooperation. That is one of the reasons why they get beaten back:

Abu Akram, a rebel commander in the city of Maaret al-Numan from the Islamist Suqoor al-Sham brigades who was part of an operations team planning the battle, was a little clearer about the disputes: “The main reason was the lack of supplies, and we started blaming each other and saying ‘so-and-so has more than me, you pledged to work, why aren’t you?’ until it reached the point that Ahrar al-Sham wouldn’t work with the Martyrs of Syria [brigade], and the Martyrs of Syria wouldn’t work except with so-and-so. So we had to end the battle, and plan for a new one.”
While the insurgency continues to retreat, Russia's maneuvering is successful in deterring any chance of outright "western" intervention. Israel remains the wild card. Should Netanyahoo miscalculate and order another Israeli air raid on Syria the local conflict in Syria will escalated into a much greater confrontation.

Posted by b on May 20, 2013 at 17:59 UTC | Permalink


SAA displays captured Zionist's military jeep.

Posted by: neretva'43 | May 20 2013 19:01 utc | 1

The end is coming, after the battle the next target will be the province of Latakia, where the rodents will be hunted and slaughtered. Already the German spy boat anchored off the Syria coast has now moved and is in Turkish territorial waters. Long live the SAA, Iran, Russia, Hezbollah.

Posted by: hans | May 20 2013 20:05 utc | 2

I think this war will expand to the Golan..If Assad wants to take back the Golan, now is the time..It's a perfect opportunity history's bestowed on Syria..The Golan couldn't be taken during peace time because there was no provocation..But now Syria has more than one justification to open the Golan front..It's just the natural progression of things.

The noise about Hezbollah fighters killed is just a tried and tested fsa/nusra disinformation method to distract people from the main point.. They're getting their asses whooped that IS NOT good press..Hezbollah in the Western media is always a great read. Keep ya eyes on da ball, folks.

Posted by: Zico | May 20 2013 20:28 utc | 3

Let's not be too fast. The retaking of Qusayr is slow. There's no indicator yet of a collapse among the rebels. The Syrian army can't do the same in every town of Northern Syria.

Nevertheless, a collapse among the rebels is a possibility. It's a question of the level of disgust with the Islamists. This is what happened among the Sunnis of Iraq. They had enough of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. And so many joined the Sahwa (Awakening) offered by the US. For those who did, things did not turn out that well. Many were murdered, as traitors to Iraq. And then the Iraq government stopped paying.

It all depends on whether the Syrian government is willing to extend a hand, and reconcile.

From what I understand about the hard-liners around Asad, it is not certain that they have enough sense.

Posted by: alexno | May 20 2013 20:41 utc | 4

alexno @ 4

Sour grapes, is it???

Even the rebels are admitting they've lost the strategic town and the Syrian army is not declaring operations are over..I'd give it a few more weeks..Even if the army holds on to Al-Qusir for a month, that's a month of no weapons supply to the rats inside Syria. And I don't think the army will just hold and do nothing..The strategy is to chase them till the either surrender or die. The who town is surrounded.

Posted by: Zico | May 20 2013 20:46 utc | 5

Just to clarify, I've seen comments calling it an 'old israeli jeep' as if they're no longer used, but they are still used for patrolling the Gaza strip and other places. Still, I would guess that it's something left behind from 2006 that some rebel friend in the Lebanese military gifted, rather than being sent from Israel.

Posted by: Crest | May 20 2013 20:57 utc | 6

"SAA displays captured Zionist's military jeep."

Looks like someone´s in love with Zionist's military jeep´s. Is it the size of the tailpipe, almost perfect for circumcised penises maybe?

Posted by: Straight Goy | May 20 2013 21:02 utc | 7

@5. Sour grapes, is it???

Absolutely not. we're talking about realism. I've always been someone who wanted the best for Syrians, and thought that Asad, in spite of the difficulties of his family, was better than the Islamists.

The revolt has not yet lost. The issue is disgust with the Islamists, who rob everything. A hand held out, and the revolt could collapse. If, however, the relatives of Asad insist upon a hard position, things could go the other way.

Posted by: alexno | May 20 2013 21:06 utc | 8

The NYTimes is interesting as a key to administration thinking (I'm not including CJChivers, who is not the author of this article).

"Battle in Syria Pulls Hezbollah Further Into Assad’s War"

Hezbollah is mentioned another seventeen (17) times in the article, of course with invaluable statistics from the Coventry clothier (AKA Syrian Observatory for Human Rights[sic]).

So Hez (and its patron Iran) is now a major impediment to the US/GCC "stabilization" of Syria, the story goes. Let's see where the geniuses in Washington go with it, if they do.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 20 2013 21:13 utc | 9

Actually there seems to be some cooperation between Damascus and al-Nusrah on oil in the northeast.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 20 2013 21:15 utc | 10

@Hans #2
Any link on that spyboat? Haven't read anything about it (it being there and it being recalled).

@Zico #3 + 6
Opening up another front would be a mistake. So forget about the whole Golan thing unless Israel attacks again and Syria retaliates as it promised then we can expect the Golan front from escalating.

From the links provided by b some rebels have routed.

"Many fighters managed to break the government siege and escape through a secret route that led to Josiah and the Qalamoun Mountains to the south. But, according to opposition sources, the regime found out about the escape route nearly a week ago and blocked it, killing and injuring around 30 fighters in the process."

This means that the city wasn't surrounded completely (pretty difficult for any city, actually) or that they used tunnels to break the siege. Ok the battle isn't over and I reckon there are still quite some pockets that need to be lanced. From what I've read so far this was quite the attack

"But all talk of a Grozny-like scenario if the regime dared enter Qusayr melted away as the Syrian army – assisted by Hezbollah fighters, according to opposition sources – stormed the town and reached the central market within a few hours. It will, however, take a few more days before government troops have full control...."

... "Opposition sources say that they were expecting the military to attempt to retake those villages that were still not under its control before trying to enter Qusayr. Instead, an opposition fighter explains, they were surprised by an attack “that was launched from the Shia villages to the west of the Assi river...with Hezbollah fighters descending on us from the Tal area.”

Posted by: Gehenna | May 20 2013 21:16 utc | 11

re 9. Nice story. It is supposing that Hizbullah has any role at all,which is not yet proven.

Posted by: alexno | May 20 2013 21:19 utc | 12

Good that you have sources Hans:

...And where are the Russians? Easy they are here:

In other words halfway Limmasol-Tartus and counting! While I was at it I noticed that the German neo-Nazi fascist spy-ship that has been helping their local clients, at an equally distance moved away from the Syrian coast and is now anchored in Turkey.

Posted by: Straight Goy | May 20 2013 21:27 utc | 13

Thanks for the above mentioned to:

Mrs.Magma for her efforts at Syrian Perspective!

Posted by: Straight Goy | May 20 2013 21:29 utc | 14

Actually there seems to be some cooperation between Damascus and al-Nusrah on oil in the northeast.

We talked about this this morning on the Guardian.

I give you what my Syrian student said a couple of weeks ago: petroleum products are still continuing to flow. He didn't understand how it could happen, but it's a fact.

As the latest reports talk about an Islamist takeover of the oil fields, I don't know whether this is still the case.

Posted by: alexno | May 20 2013 21:34 utc | 15

...and to follow up Mrs.Magma´s news flash: The German spy ship is back! But very much behind the Russians . As magma said the high sea tug vessel FOTIY KRYLOV os taking the lead it seems...

Posted by: Straight Goy | May 20 2013 21:34 utc | 16


Syria controls all pipelines out of the country, not ZATO merc´s thats a fact and if it wasn´t, well, Damascus would have bombed it anyway. Good try Tel Aviv....

Posted by: Straight Goy | May 20 2013 21:39 utc | 17

The spyship was unknown to me but sounds interesting.

Considering the trade between al Nusra and the government. Depends on which al Nusra we're talking about. The al Nusra (under al Julani) would make sense since there are ties between the Mukhabarat and AN and they're both Syrian. I'd guess the same past also applies to AQI/Nusra but considering they're a lot more savage I'd discount this.

Any links on this story? Sounds very interesting!

Posted by: Gehenna | May 20 2013 21:43 utc | 18

found it: Jihadist trade with Damascus

Posted by: Gehenna | May 20 2013 21:52 utc | 19

The German spy ship was sending info about SAA wherabouts to ZATO merc´s but two hours before FOTIY KRYLOV (and the non-radar visible armada) left Limasol this morning, it went towards Turkey and then turned back but way behind the Russian armada, which is now jamming it anyway. Stay tuned. I will post whatever i can find at SyrPer.

Posted by: Mrs.Magma | May 20 2013 21:56 utc | 20

That jeep is probably Zionist's armored version of M 151, which they use in Gaza. I recently saw they now have Rover Defender 110.

Posted by: neretva'43 | May 20 2013 21:58 utc | 21

Thanks for the link Mrs. Magma and info

Posted by: jo6pac | May 20 2013 22:02 utc | 22

@21 Times of Israel is saying the jeep is an old South Lebanon Army vehicle. Part of a jeep rental agreement most likely.

Posted by: dh | May 20 2013 22:04 utc | 23

Does it count if Dr. Assad bitch slaps a Palestinians or bludgeons a Palestinian to his maker, or only when a zionist does so? Thanks in advance.

Posted by: David | May 20 2013 22:06 utc | 24

German spy ship Alster is old story, it is part of UNIFIL mission.

Posted by: neretva'43 | May 20 2013 22:06 utc | 25


could be. Given circumstances, it is surprising that thing is still alive.

Posted by: neretva'43 | May 20 2013 22:13 utc | 26

The best news in this story is the absence of a unified commander for the rebel forces. Fighting a set piece battle against 3 or 4 battalions that do not have a unified command makes it much easier for the government forces. They can focus their strength against one unit and defeat it without worrying about coordinated counter attacks from the other units. As Napoleon noted he always preferred to fight against a coalition of armies from different nations since they could never agree to unify their forces in a single command.

If this continues, the SAA might be able to role up these disparate forces all the way back to the Turkish border. Of course, this will not necessarily defeat them for they can then go on fighting a guerilla style war. It was, in retrospect, extremely risky for them to seize and defend territory in the first place. The rebels probably knew what they were doing and were betting they could get Nato to intervene and finish off the Syrian Army for them. Oh well, it worked in Libya but not in Syria. Such is the fickle finger of fate.

Posted by: ToivoS | May 20 2013 22:36 utc | 27

"German spy ship Alster is old story, it is part of UNIFIL mission."

Seems you still stuck at that tailpipe, circumcised or not. That ship is part of a spying operation. Go back to your fellow Jerusalem post inbreeds and stay there...

Thanks´again Magma!

Posted by: Straight Goy | | May 20 2013 22:40 utc | 28


Considering that so much else of Julian Borger's report in the Guardian looks like spin, I'd like to see more concrete evidence of "understandings" between Al Nusrah and the Assad administration. His claim is within the frame that Syria is inevitably in the process of breaking into statelets, thus Assad is making contingency plans for the inevitable by accomodating developments of Al Nusrah's Sunni state and an emerging Kurd state while prepping his exit stategy by ethnically-cleansing the coast for an Alawite state:

"More importantly, as so often in history, control over hydrocarbons has solidified new lines on the map. The fact that the Syrian army has withdrawn from the heart of the country and that the victorious Salafist groups have not pressed their attack, but instead entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with Damascus over the oil, show that both sides are satisfied with the dividing lines.

The regime's forces, made more ethnically pure and more resolute by two years of Sunni defections, is clearing out an Allawite state along the Syrian coastal plain. The horrific massacres of Sunni communities in Baniyas and al-Bayda earlier this month were acts of ethnic cleansing designed to scare away any remaining Sunni pockets.

With the rise of al-Nusra, meanwhile, the importance of the Syrian-Iraq border, forged nearly a century ago by Britain and France in the Sykes-Picot agreement, is eroding fast as Sunni Salafist groups on both sides find common cause. The executions of Syrian soldiers in a public square in al-Raqqa were carried out under the black banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, a merger between Syrian and Iraqi al-Qaida affiliates.

While the makings of a Sunni mini-state are emerging in al-Jazira plain, Upper Mesopotamia, stretching from Turkey to central Iraq, a Kurdish state is forming to the east, again crystallised with the help of oil. To the fury of Baghdad, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq has reportedly struck a deal with Ankara for Turkish state energy companies to take a stake in the region's oil and gas fields. The deal has caused tension with Washington, apparently during the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to the White House last week.

For Ankara, the aggravation with the US is worth it. A reliable source of energy is essential for Turkey if it wants to continue to grow and eventually become the pipeline connection between Europe and the Middle East. These geostrategic ambitions are the background to Ankara's ceasefire with its own Kurdish separatists, the PKK, which has also cleared the way for side deals with Syria's Kurds who hold oil and gas fields in al-Hasakah."

The taking over of oil-fields and other vital resources by Salafist groups is not a recent phenomenon. It's part of the strategy AQ-linked groups have pursued in other countries to help finance their insurgencies. Syrian insurgent groups have been selling crude from captured oil fields on the black market for many months. What has changed in the past week is that the EU voted to lift sanctions on the import of oil from Syrian "activists."

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 20 2013 22:52 utc | 29

Ok. Some truckloads of oil every now and then, through Turkey, IF THEY ARE LUCKY, but then what? SAA controls all pipes (even the rusty ones) So they are maybe going to get a few pennies before SAA comes over there...

Posted by: Straight Goy | | May 20 2013 22:59 utc | 30

@ToivoS #27
Excellent. I've been talking about unity of command but you described it better.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 20 2013 23:01 utc | 31


The NYT is a key to the administration's thinking insofar that it represents the perspective of the liberal Zionist donors, thinktanks and congresscritters who are pressuring Obama to get more directly involved in destroying Syria. Certain members of his cabinet past and present (like Hillary and Panetta) have been pushing the liberal Zionist agenda for Syria, but they have not been the only voices in the room.

The Israel Lobby has also been trying to claim that Hezbollah has been playing a huge role in the conflict in their attempt to sway public opinion (by association with the evil Hezbollah), but also possibly to find some legal casus belli (since Hezbollah is on the US list of terrorist groups) for intervention in Syria. (Assad has been very adamant that the Syrian military is quite capable of defending the country without needing any outside volunteers). A few months ago, the editor of Al Akhbar made a reasonable estimate of the extent of Hezbollah involvement (mostly training of Shia popular committees on Lebanon's valley in the Assi Valley and some supply of weapons). Since Israel's recent attack outside Damascus and Nasrallah's reply, the support from Hezbollah's hierarchy (not just individual volunteers) may have increased. While there is probably little if any Hezbollah involvement in other parts of Syria, the odds of some level of help from Hezbollah in the Qusayr region are much higher.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 20 2013 23:17 utc | 32

An interesting bit from a recent story on Al Akhbar about Ali Zaater, a Lebanese civilian just across the border from Qusayr, who has been trying to act as a mediator between the Syrian Army and the insurgents in Qusayr (regarding memes of "civilians welcoming insugents as liberators" and human shields):

on Sunday, Zaayter seemed reassured on the fate of the civilians. He reckoned that no more than 20 percent of the total number of children and women were still trapped in the city, and said that they were allowed to leave without any problems through regular army checkpoints.

But what about other civilians who are not women or children? Zaayter replied, “Well, on Saturday, May 11, there was an attempt to evacuate civilians who wanted to leave Qusayr, and the government gave them safe passage. But at the last moment, that effort collapsed. The fighters in Qusayr felt that if they let all the civilians go, then this might encourage the government to kill them.”

But didn’t they know that before agreeing to negotiate in the first place? Zaayter said, “Yes, but they did not realize that everyone wanted to leave. So the opposition fighters refused to let them leave, fearing this would turn them into ‘clean’ targets.”

What about the Syrian government’s attitude? Zaayter answered, “There are proposals that the government also rejected. For example, the proposal that the state can only send in the police, but not the army…was rejected by the government.”

We also asked Zaayater about what kinds of agreements were proposed in the past two days, to which he replied, “First, cease-fire. Second, every person wishing to remain in Qusayr must lay down their weapons. Third, every person who does not lay down their arms has two options: vacate the area, or battle with the government. Fourth, government institutions must be allowed to resume their work. Fifth, possibly offering compensation for rebuilding what has been destroyed.”

We then asked him: What would have guaranteed that the opposition would speak with one voice, when it came to approving a settlement? Zaayater said, “The group who has the final say is the Farouq Brigade.” Zaayater then claimed that the government, meanwhile, “is open to various settlements out of its determination to safeguard Syria’s unity and territorial integrity.”

By today or tomorrow, the Syrian government is expected to have retaken the entire town of Qusayr, unless something unexpected happens, given the presence of nearly “a thousand foreign fighters” there, according to informed sources.

These fighters may have had a role in thwarting a settlement between the opposition fighters and the Syrian government, despite denials from the former, as we understood from mediators we spoke to. But others reckoned that it was the “foreign connections” of these fighters to blame for the failure to reach an accord.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 20 2013 23:33 utc | 33


Posted by: neretva'43 | May 21 2013 0:37 utc | 34


And the insurgents have a nasty habit of sabotaging all sorts of infrastructure -- including blowing up pipes and destroying silos. Which contributed the state's shortages of heating oil and bread this past winter.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 21 2013 2:03 utc | 35

follow up to #29:

Apparently, the EU decision regarding buying insurgent oil is a little older than I remembered. This is from Al Akhbar 4 weeks ago:

EU eases embargo to support rebels

The remarks come as the European Union on Monday eased an oil embargo on Syria to benefit the rebel, but stopped short of supplying offensive weapons.

EU foreign ministers formally adopted measures enabling EU companies on a case-by-case basis to import Syrian crude and export oil production technology and investment cash to areas in the hands of the opposition.

"We want regions controlled by the opposition to develop, we want to help economic reconstruction," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on arriving for the talks in Luxembourg.

This first easing in two years of harsh sanctions against Damascus aims to help tilt the balance in the conflict but is a response to complaints by the civilian population that international sanctions are harming ordinary Syrians more than they are the government, EU sources said.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 21 2013 2:30 utc | 36

I happen to think that it's entirely appropriate for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize winners (the European Union) to purchase oil from the al-Qaeda anti-Syria foreign combatants according to orders from the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient (Obama), and I don't care if Alfred Nobel IS rolling over in his grave thinking about the abuse to his will which stated that the prize should be awarded to "the person who [during the previous year] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” /s

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 21 2013 3:48 utc | 37

This link to contains a lucid analysis of the conflicting goals of the various sponsors of the armed opposition in Syria. It's point of view is probably shared by many contributors here, although the conclusions of the analysis may not be.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | May 21 2013 5:34 utc | 38

@Gehenna #19 "found it: Jihadist trade with Damascus"

Its a pure propaganda and pushing zionists agenda of dividing the Syria to mini statelets, as if Assad is ok with that. Thats just stupid, along myriad of other stupid claims how Assad is ethnically cleansing sunnis to have "pure Alawite state", etc.

Posted by: Harry | May 21 2013 5:58 utc | 39

We should view this victory as a tactical one, the infantry tactics of SAA, Iran and hezbollah over Israel/NATO, because that what it is.

Posted by: hans | May 21 2013 6:46 utc | 40

Assad is doing business with Nusra Front? Lets be real ladies and gents. I guess Netyanayoo really prefers Assad and Hamad Bin Gurion cares about the Welfare of the Syrian people.

Posted by: Hilmi | May 21 2013 8:33 utc | 41

38) I agree that is the plan, and cynically assume the Syrian army is doing everyone a favor killing Jihadis now, however I do not see how they want to get there, with Russia, China, Iran doing what they are doing.

Basically the West - after Libya - is in no position to be trusted on agreements.

So if they continue, it means war.

I also guess, Israel is in the role of hostage now. I just do not see how they want to survive a barrage of real missiles.

Posted by: somebody | May 21 2013 8:39 utc | 42

@ 38 link -- Says what seems logical to me, based on what I'm seeing here in the US government. Put not your trust in hegemons.

Also, T/U to Hannah K. O'Luthon for introducing me to Any more places you think we should put on our reading lists, Hannah?

Posted by: jawbone | May 21 2013 19:45 utc | 43

somebody -- in a way you're right, but the real tragedy in all of this is that the rapacity of the modern global wealth disparity has made it so that entire swaths of the planet are crazed and ready to give up their young men for a small paycheck and an absurdly contrived sense of glory. When I say small paycheck, I mean nothing comparable to a soldier's reward at any time in previous history.

Just like the Americans, the various 'jihadis' will have to have meet their philosophical breaking point before any of the 'terror wars' can end.

Will humans be able to pick the right target of their sanction without reverting back to much smaller tribal heirarchies? It's a question whose answer predicts our survival as a species. I'm cynical too.

Posted by: L Bean | May 21 2013 19:58 utc | 44


Just a random nightly thought but maybe one point about the slight hesitation of the u.s. in syria is about the named young muslims fighters doing "their own thing".
Looking back over the last 20 something years I might get the impression that the empoverished "muslim youth" (at least those outside iran) are somewhat the footsoldiers of the u.s. (or the "west" if you wish).
One significant point about the syrian situation seems to be that in this conflict everyone is pursuing their own goals and that seems to be valid for france, turkey, the gulf states, the us and of course iran and russia. So maybe there's reservations about one of the middle eastern / arab powers gaining too much influence, e.g. some branch of the muslim brotherhood or the saudi backed international brigades going out of u.s. control.
I've read every now and then about the armament of the saudis, but indeed it seems to be mostly of a "defensive" nature, like surveillance units and the like.
I guess not a single radical muslim would willingly be fighting for the u.s., as instead they're fighting for saudi-affiliated religious leaders. When there's no u.s. air and arms support but all the fighting is done by their own infantry, maybe the saudis start to think that they can do their own thing (if they win). With Egypt as potential partners as well as northern africa in their reach, why not see this syrian crisis as a turning point to emancipate from US superiority?
I think it's almost certain that the US wouldn't want to go into a full-scale war on the ground at this time, thus restricting their military power to drones and aircraft, leaving the boots on the ground work to the arab religious brigades.
If the saudis have got the power to draw tens of thousands of young men from asia and africa to the middle east then it's like they're owning a big army themselves. The west just might be afraid that the power if this army may be getting too strong.

Posted by: peter radiator | May 22 2013 1:04 utc | 45

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