Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 30, 2015

Syria: Thoughts On The Russian Air Support

Some things that happened today:

  • The Syrian government asked the Russian Federation for air support in its fight against the foreign supported insurgency.
  • The Russian parliament agreed to a Russian government request for a legal mandate to do so.
  • Russian officers in Iraq informed the U.S. embassy in Baghdad of upcoming strikes and recommended that U.S. planes stay out of the area and that U.S. forces on the ground be removed.
  • Russian planes started to bomb insurgency held fixed positions in Homs and Hama governate in west Syria. Both governates are next to Latakia where the Russian forces are deployed.

Immediately after news of the first Russian strike the U.S. payed "Syrian Civil Defense" organization "White Helmets" posted propaganda claims of killed children. The picture it used to prove its claims had also been used on September 25, before the Russians started to bomb.

Next came claims that the Russian had hit "moderate rebels" which the U.S. says are its good guys.

To which Mark Adomanis snarked:

The US couldn't find "moderate" rebels in 3 years. Apparently the Russians did in 24 hours

Indeed. Even back in 2012 the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency found:


"Moderates"- my ass.

The neocon Institute for the Study of War correctly identifies the target the Russian planes hit:

An alleged Russian airstrike hit the rebel-held town of Talbisah north of Homs City. Talbisah is home to Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, hardline Islamist Ahrar al-Sham, and a number of other local rebel groups, all of which are active in local governance efforts in the area. Both Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have claimed a number of vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs) in Homs City, located only 12 kilometers south of Talbisah.

The Russians themselves claim 8 ISIS targets hit as they do not differentiate much between the various groups of violent jihadi organizations.

The U.S. and its European lap dogs are now outraged, OUTRAGED that the Russians did not hit the Islamic State but al-Qaeda. "They claimed to fight the Islamic State. How could they hit our moderate rebels and their friendly al-Qaeda cooperation partners?"

One of the eight Russian targets was in Rastan in Homs governate. No Islamic State there claims the "western" propaganda. Except that just nine days ago the Islamic State shot dead seven men in Rastan for being allegedly gay.

Human Rights Watch and its ever lying ISIS promoting boss Kenneth Roth have not yet complained that Russia is NOT using their beloved "barrel bombs". But we can be sure that they will soon come up with some other dull bullshit.

The Russian will first clear, as much as possible, the area between their base in Latakia and the Turkish border. That is pretty much a self defense measure as some insurgent groups have already tried to hit the Russian base with improvised rockets. It also has the advantage that the targets are only a few flight minutes away.

The bottleneck here is intelligence. The Russians have UAV drones as well as manned signal intelligence aircraft in Syria and will use those to find targets. The Syrian government will help with its on-the-ground intelligence.

The Russians now have at least 24 ground attack fighters on their base. Each could fly at least six sorties per day (and night), with double crewing even more. When the Russians have settled in we can expect a regular 100-150 air attacks per day on the "moderate rebels" with surges of up to 250 per day. This is about the same amount as the Syrian air force is currently delivering. But the Russian planes are better equipped and have better accuracy. For those CIA paid "moderate rebel" TOW shooters and their al-Qaeda allies life will soon become very uncomfortable. Only after the immediate danger to the base and to important Syrian government positions in west Syria is pushed away will Russia start to hit Islamic State targets further east. This may require moving some of its planes to another airfield further east. 

I also expect that the Russians will do much more than just bombing rebel headquarters and the like. A main task will be direct ground support for the Syrian army when it starts to reclaim insurgent held areas. The Russians will have forward air controllers on the ground embedded with the Syrian forces. Effectively directed, all weather air support will make upcoming ground campaigns much easier.

The "western" anti-Syrian governments will continue to play outraged over the Russian help for the Syrian government. But I do not expect them to take any serious countermeasures. What can they do? Give anti-air missiles to their "moderate rebels" so that these can be handed over to al-Qaeda?

The Gulf dictatorships though may make such a grave mistake:

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, said Tuesday that there were no circumstances in which his country would accept the Russian effort to keep Mr. Assad in power.

He hinted that if a political solution that led to his departure could not be found, the shipment of weapons and other support to Syrian rebel groups would be increased.

Posted by b on September 30, 2015 at 18:04 UTC | Permalink

« previous page

"shale oil", my error

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 1 2015 16:13 utc | 101

Good read, guess it's on. As usual, Chipnik " bottom lines it". A new vision of how business functions, is needed. One that serves humanity, not visa versa. Without that change, is could be, " meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

For those that need proof of CIA involvement, pick up a history book.

Posted by: ben | Oct 1 2015 16:17 utc | 102

@39 Ghubar Shabih.. more for you today.

"On Thursday, the commander of the Liwa Suqour al-Jabal rebel group that has received CIA training reportedly said that one of the group's training camps in the Idlib province was hit by 20 missiles in continued Russian attacks.

Echoing the commander's comments, US Sen. John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN that he had confirmed that Russian airstrikes were aimed at the CIA-backed fighters, not IS.

"Their initial strikes were against the individuals and the groups that have been funded and trained by our CIA, in a credible flaunting of any kind of cooperation or effort to conceal what Putin's priority is - and that is, of course, to prop up (Syrian President) Bashar Assad," McCain said."

maybe mccain can tell you the actual amount of money the cia has been spending on regime change with it's bullshit moderate propaganda for stupid people who read and believe the nyt, wapo and wsj?

Posted by: james | Oct 1 2015 16:29 utc | 103

@ Penelope #65 and Hoarsewhisperer #76: I looked at the links you offered. They contain the same stuff that was linked to by Oui #2 above and the same stuff that 'B' linked to at an earlier time. As I discussed at #39, this stuff is unconvincing to a person who requires evidence.

Senator John McCain told CNN TV yesterday he could “absolutely confirm” that Russian airstrikes hit Western-backed groups “armed and trained by the CIA.”

The alleged CIA program doesn't come under the ambit of the Senate Armed Services Committee. It comes under the Senate Intelligence Committee. John McCain is not a member of Senate Intelligence Committee and isn't eligible for access to this alleged classified CIA info. McCain isn't positioned to know what he's talking about, and doesn't have a duty to be careful about what he says about it, and anything he says about it is worthless as information.

The Washington Post journalists in the same article, link above, say: "The rebel unit there [in Kafr Nabl in Idlib province] has received support under a covert CIA program aimed at bolstering moderate rebels." If I read that sentence as meaning "received NON-LETHAL support" (as defined in by the US gov't in 2103), I won't dispute it. But if I read it as meaning LETHAL support, I cannot find any evidence for the truth of this statement. I believe it's a falsehood because I can't find any evidence for it in Syria, nor in Washington, nor in Jordan, as I said at #39.

Posted by: Ghubar Shabih | Oct 1 2015 16:30 utc | 104

@104 Ghubar Shabih.. the difference is you seem to believe the cia are in syria for getting rid of ISIS, as opposed to regime change.. keep on believing in the good ship lollipop usa... it is a freaking mirage..

Posted by: james | Oct 1 2015 16:32 utc | 105

Ghubar Sabih,

You can't be serious. All of the wire services are writing that CIA supports and finances "moderate rebels". McCain say so. What do you need? A letter from the CIA Director delivered to your mail box?

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 1 2015 16:46 utc | 106

Ghubar Shabih I assume you're a member of Boko Haram (maybe their press secretary?), which in March 2015 it announced its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Posted by: okie farmer | Oct 1 2015 16:55 utc | 107

Lone Wolf

As I have said,lets go back here in a few weeks and see who was right.

Posted by: ZIP | Oct 1 2015 17:02 utc | 108

Posted by: Ghubar Shabih | Oct 1, 2015 12:30:28 PM | 104

You're a hard man to convince, aren't you?
I haven't been there for 7 years or so, but wayback then the CIA's website was remarkably frank about what the CIA was up to. Have a poke around there and if you draw a blank then there are websites which whine about the CIA's mischief. In fact, if you rang them up, they'd probably give you the names of a couple.
They love a good joke - especially at someone else's expense.
On the other hand, you could just ask Wayoutwest. He's very polite and I imagine he'd be glad to help. And he's never far away...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 1 2015 17:12 utc | 109

@ James, MMAR, ben,okie farmer,Hoarsewhisperer

May be Ghubar Shabih believes that the mission outpost in Benghazi was just a charitable organisation compound or that USAID ,or worse, some NGOs ( which have CIA covert ops amongst their staff in countries where there are no US diplomatic missions or there are too many Agricultural, Cultural , second secretaries to the Military Attache in those Embassies and Consulates) are just that: charitable organisations.

May be he should also read how the late King of Jordan, father of the present one, was on the pay roll of Langley or how the good boys were active in Indonesia in the 60's. Let's not point to him where and who fell victims to the CIA in South America.

Posted by: Yul | Oct 1 2015 17:37 utc | 110

ISIS and al-Qaeda all part of the tools Washington uses to mold the Middle East for it's own ends. ISIS is too much of an asset to destroy outright so they will not allow complete destruction of ISIS.

Basically Washington is Satan without horns causing misery from nation to nation. Now it's flooding Europe with its foreign policy carnage.

This is how it treats its so-called friends as mere vassals to do with how they please -- from spying on Merkel to spying on all French companies.

With friends like these who needs enemies.

Posted by: Cynthia | Oct 1 2015 17:42 utc | 111

@110 yul.. it gets a bit ridiculous trying to rationalize with someone unwilling to acknowledge recent history.. maybe they have no grasp of history?

@111 cynthia.. odd how the usa and rest of the west have had such a heck of a hard time getting rid of ISIS the past 3-4 years.. one could almost imagine that wasn't really what they wanted to do in the first place, or that they were worried about bombing or taking out their own cia and etc assets in the same areas.. most folks are calling bullshit on it all and as we see now - russia is too..

ot - article from greenwald that some might enjoy..
U.S. Bombs Somehow Keep Falling in the Places Where Obama “Ended Two Wars”

Posted by: james | Oct 1 2015 17:50 utc | 112

james @ 112: Thanks for the link. Oh yes, the "peace prize" dude has ended two wars...NOT! The propaganda is freaking endless, just like the greed of the corporate empire is endless.

Posted by: ben | Oct 1 2015 18:07 utc | 113

Russia in Syria from the Saker:

Posted by: ben | Oct 1 2015 18:21 utc | 114

I hope that the Iranians are able to bring the war to the combatants themselves, on foot. I hope that Noirette is right, and I think she is, these mercenaries - al Nusra, Daesh ... all the various brands of al-CIA-da - are fine at murdering civilians but will look for the exits if a taste of their own poison is brought to them. jfl at 45.

Oh they will run, or more prosaically, just leave. A few will go on to other ventures, but not many.

Besides that (we agree on some of the aspects of this ugly dangerous situation) what Putin, and his ‘partners’ have to do is cut the supplies of arms, matériel and cash, plus halt the contraband sales of oil for ex. Which they know of course.

Harder to accomplish than some ‘pin-point’ bombing. This is part of the ‘diplomacy’ effort (partly arm-screwing) about which one hears almost nothing. The bombing is a kind of ‘forward move’, it is a warning, a bold statement, a taking of a public position. The good part is that ISIS has no support on the ground (compare with the Donbass, or in the past the IRA etc.), only fear and compliance and a few as per usual gansta types who like to cozy up to the violent boss of the moment.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 1 2015 18:37 utc | 115

I say to you, you shouldn't believe this claim about the CIA until after you've seen good evidence for it. As far as I know, you haven't seen good evidence. If you think otherwise, ask yourself could you be prejudiced and biased? are you not making an inference on the basis of insufficient info?
Posted by: Ghubar Shabih | Sep 30, 2015 6:07:55 PM | 39

Here it is AGAIN, Ghubar:
9/16/15 as a counterweight to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad- but also that ISIS members were initially trained by members and contractors of the Central Intelligence Agency at facilities in Jordan in 2012. The now declassified document appears to confirm that the U.S., the European Union and other nations viewed Muslim extremists in ISIS as “a strategic asset toward regime change in Syria.” Also Iraq

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 1 2015 20:19 utc | 117

1. I forget where I read it but I read that the Chinese navy will provide help with intelligence, sending two ships to the Eastern Med. At first I thought the Chinese ship news was just chatter but John Batchelor mentioned it in this week's radio show. He said the Chinese had filed a request to pass thru the Suez.

2. RT had a report yesterday about the faked photo evidence on the strikes

3. RT had some war marketing/propaganda/bragging this morning that said US is relying on drones and satellite intelligence for targeting and Russia is relying on Syrian govt intelligence on the ground for targeting. They are bragging that their targeting is superior.

Posted by: gemini33 | Oct 1 2015 21:49 utc | 118

About Daily Star: they try to be more impartial than "KSA rag", so does al-Jasira. Editorializing includes straight imports of neo-cons. What Wayoutwest quoted was not reporting, but editorializing with his own over-editorializing. Much better reporting can be found in Daily Telegraph

If you unravel the editorializing layer, rebel sources tell about "one body and one wound child" and a lot of destruction, admitting no losses in manpower and material. However, as they mock bombing of a cemetery, they illustrate it with a photo of totally burned "military vehicle", so it was a military camp. Russian planes fly on high altitude, probably meaning that they are next to invisible, but the same rebel sources admit that the strikes were accurate, meaning, not going to some barren ground.

Concerning the strategy, the largest target of cluster is in a rebel-held zone that separates Homs from Hama, probably the largest logistic obstacle for SAA in the "heartland" where all other rebel enclaves are (usually) separated from main highways.The second cluster were Army of Conquest positions in Latakia province (or flanking that province). Part of the strategy is to utilize Alawite (and Chrisitian?) units that are numerous in Latakia elsewhere by assuring the protection of their homes. I do not know how good Russian target intelligence is, but I bet that it is far better than KSA target intelligence in Yemen, for all American support they were suppose to get in finding proper targets (they missed the Tochka but they found a wedding).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 2 2015 0:47 utc | 119

Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria to join a major ground offensive in support of President Bashar al-Assad's government, Lebanese sources said on Thursday, a sign the civil war is turning still more regional and global in scope.

Russian warplanes, in a second day of strikes, bombed a camp run by rebels trained by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the group's commander said, putting Moscow and Washington on opposing sides in a Middle East conflict for the first time since the Cold War.

Posted by: okie farmer | Oct 2 2015 0:49 utc | 120
"I remind you that the first reports of civilian causalities were before our planes were in the air."

Posted by: okie farmer | Oct 2 2015 1:03 utc | 121

Some smart allecks are wondering if Russia can afford engagement in Syria given precarious state of its economy.

Strangely enough, Russia economy is not so bad. What Putin did is almost unbelievable. (1) Allow ruble to float and loose almost half dollar value. (2) Export dropped by 40%, given the huge drop in oil prices, but so did the import, and Russia maintains trade surplus, there was also a huge repayment of debt. (3) Putin uses sanctions to stimulate import substitution and employment, nice stories are published on the increases in agriculture which implies previously neglected activisation of the country side. (4) Many non-oil companies that experienced losses when oil and ruble were high return nice profit, aluminum production is a good example, they pay for hydro electricity in rubles, before the drop of rubble they paid more than Chinese aluminum producers (it begs the question why China charges so little for electicity). It seem that Putin more or less balanced the books, he also needs to make a big transition in tax revenue, before mostly oil, but he has reserves to do it somewhat gradually.

I conclude that if you are sufficiently ruthless, you can adapt to an economic shock quite well, and loosing 5% of GDP in the face of such huge decrease of terms of trade is more of a success story than a failure. Of course, this means that the population is hit. However, Russian understand inevitable consequences of an oil shock, it is not the first time, plus government policies protect employment more than consumption, which is also good for social cohesion. But where can Russian economy grow, besides import substitution?

There are two interesting directions. One is atomic energy. Rosatom got a very impressive portfolio of orders, and each big nuclear unit is five billion dollars. Constructing nuclear power stations is notorious for cost overruns, so it helps to have costs in rubles. The second direction is weapons. Russian made big strides to catch up with quality to USA. But did those effort yield effects? That can be proven only on a convincing battlefield. So what Russia need is a show that they are better at counter-insurgency than USA (and NATO, Australia etc.), and if they can also show the quality of air defense systems, that gives the second large market. Observe that a lot of counties have problems with insurgencies, and some, like Pakistan and Nigeria, have substantial budgets (but they cannot afford American prices on a larger scale that is necessary for fighting an insurgency like Taliban, Baluchi extremists or Boko Haram).

Those are high risk directions, will nuclear power station be built timely and reliably? Will the latest tool anti-insurgency kit deliver in Syria (and possibly, in Iraq)? If no, Putin will be an idiot, if yes, a prophet.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 2 2015 1:31 utc | 122

'Syrian government forces against the multiple enemies of the Assad regime.'

BBC avoids the T word for 'enemies of the Assad regime'
BBC should be challenged for changing its role from public broadcaster to Dept of War mouthpiece

Posted by: brian | Oct 2 2015 3:59 utc | 123

Posted by: William Bowles | Sep 30, 2015 3:32:34 PM | 10

interesting? not really..try Utter rubbish!

1. 'Assad regime was buckling under the strains of the civil war.'
its not the 'Assad regime' nor is it a 'civil war': its a foreign invasion.

2.'In one respect Russia has managed to do what the US could not, which is to prepare a serious military campaign along with the forces who are actually fighting IS on the ground.

could not? would not! US isnt fighting ISIS or anyone other than the 'Assad regime'

3.'Russia has been a pariah amongst other world powers, in particular the West which has imposed several tough sanctions leaving the country’s economy in a serious crisis'

is the russian economy in a crisis? not necessarily. Latest in judo moves is to source internally and expand into asia

4.'For Putin, the intervention in Syria is a way of reasserting himself on the world stage '

makser Putin sound like Cameron (of Arabia) or Sultan Erdogan

5. 'For all his huffing and puffing, Obama and US imperialism have no choice but to accept Putin’s fait accompli,

whos huffing and puffing? Putin? This marxist really hates Putin and Assad.

6. 'which is their only path for the stabilisation of Syria'

what makes this guy think US regime wants a stable syria?

7.'It is clear that Assad, his family and his cronies are so tied to the Syrian state that it would collapse if they were removed'

standard colonial sneer at an arab society, or a real hater of Assad and syrias govt...

8. The forces of the Syrian revolution have long been killed, subdued or otherwise crushed by the imperialist vultures of the region.
The only forces who have the interests of the masses at heart are the masses themselves. '

this marxist nitwit thinks there was a 'revolution' in failed for not being... wel marxist!

Marx is dead and so is Marxism if this sort of creature operates under his nam,e

Posted by: brian | Oct 2 2015 4:17 utc | 124

what does Bowles see of any interest here? This guy may play to the reified 'masses' but hes no friend of the syrian people.

'Of course, while Putin can expose the hypocrisy of the West, it does not mean that he has the best of Syria at heart. For Putin, Syria in itself does not mean anything. In fact the Tartus naval base was not an important position for Russia compared with other problems that Russia might have. For Putin, Syria is a bargaining chip which he can use to regain Russia’s position as a world power and as a regional power in the Middle East.'

so this guy has the interests of syria in his little black heart? or does he want to oust syrias current govt and repalce it with a 'revolutionary' marxist one? how does he differ from ISIS? other than replacing islam with marxism..and maybe less head chopping

Posted by: brian | Oct 2 2015 4:21 utc | 125

The exposed hypocrisy of Washington is not all of it. Their lies and their feckless abandon, in the face of their evil revealed, is the thing. Full spectrum dominance doesn't look so shiny now. The blowhards, the arrogant pricks, the pretentious bullies, have come to full stop before something they can't dominate. Putin wears the pants now.

Posted by: Copeland | Oct 2 2015 4:39 utc | 126

There could be another reason why Russia is bombing the "rebels" in Syria.

The US made a deal with the saudis. The US can make a deal with Iran on the nuclear issue. And the saudis are allowed to meddle in Yemen & support the rebels in Syria. Obama is VERY well aware of the stupidness of supporting the rebels in Syria but he must take into account the opinion of the US army and security Services who seem to be close to the saudis or are very sympathetic towards the saudis.

By allowing Russia to help Assad he can pretend the US doesn't breach the US-saudi deal.

Posted by: Willy2 | Oct 2 2015 6:39 utc | 127


Well back in '08 YOU were telling everyone to "Give hopey-changey a chance!"

So I guess you are at least partly to blame

Posted by: Myles | Oct 2 2015 7:48 utc | 128

"Ghubar Sabih,

You can't be serious. All of the wire services are writing that CIA supports and finances "moderate rebels". McCain say so. What do you need? A letter from the CIA Director delivered to your mail box?

Posted by: MMARR"

Wtf are you trying to say? You hopefully are able to grasp that a "moderate" can only be someone who does NOT bear arms, does NOT want to pull a violent coup and does NOT massacre the native population.

None of that is the case here. What we had here, were photos of McCain in Syria with known islamic terrorists. And by known I mean well-documented, with names and history and all.

You also could read it in the press this week, the US military has officially confirmed that there are only four or five such "moderate Rebels" trained by the US and even their commander went to Al-Nusra including the weapons and all.

So please, either back your claims up with any, ANY sort of provable facts, or stop bothering us with that stupidly recycled mainstream evening news nonsense.

Posted by: zedz | Oct 2 2015 9:41 utc | 129

Oops, that was addressed to Ghubar Shabih guy, not MMARR

Posted by: zedz | Oct 2 2015 9:42 utc | 130

Lone Wolf

As I have said,lets go back here in a few weeks and see who was right.

Posted by: ZIP | Oct 1, 2015 1:02:23 PM | 108wx

So in a few weeks, when Russia has yet to vanquish ISIS, you'll come back here screaming QUAGMIRE!!!!!????

Posted by: David2220 | Oct 2 2015 13:32 utc | 131

Posted by: brian | Oct 2, 2015 12:21:47 AM | 125

"so this guy has the interests of syria in his little black heart? or does he want to oust syrias current govt and repalce it with a 'revolutionary' marxist one? how does he differ from ISIS? other than replacing islam with marxism..and maybe less head chopping"

Putin a Marxist? What planet are you on? Of course Putin has an 'ulterior' motive, in his position wouldn't you?

Posted by: William Bowles | Oct 2 2015 14:09 utc | 132

@56 "I sure hope Saudis are just flapping their gums,..."

I suspect the Saudi 'princely' regime is on notice and the rats are panicking.
Pumping all the oil they can (even at $40/bl) before they lose it to the next regime -- or Shiite factions etc.
It is very easy to see the advantage to Russia (and other exporters) for oil to go back up to $100/bl through reduce supply from Saudi. What has the Saudi gang got except Uncle Sam's protection racket and perhaps Egypt on a stipend to the south.

Posted by: x | Oct 2 2015 14:24 utc | 133

« previous page

The comments to this entry are closed.