Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 12, 2015

There Are U.S. Special Forces In South Syria

Hassan Ridha @sayed_ridha
Drone downed by #SAA over Izraa #Daraa countryside

More pictures of the debris can be found here.

The various munition experts on Twitter agree that this is debris of an Aerovironment Switchblade (Datasheet-pdf) loitering munition "for use against beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) targets":

This miniature intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and lethal platform can be operated manually or autonomously. Switchblade provides the operator with real-time video and GPS coordinates for information gathering, targeting or feature/object recognition.

The switchblade has the size of a remote piloted hobby plane but features a visual and infrared camera and an explosive charge. It can be "suicided" on a target. According to the datasheet the battery powered killer drone has a "10 km radius of operation".

Izraa, where the debris was found, lies (map) at the crossing of the M5 highway from Amman in Jordan north to Damascus and road 109 which runs west to east through south Syria. Izraa is about 40 km north of the Syrian Jordan border and 40 km east of the Golan demarcation line. Anyone who used this armed drone must have been on Syrian ground.

The U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corp are the only known users. Since 2012 the weapons has been used in Afghanistan. The system surely requires significant training. Controlling a remote plane 10 km away over unknown terrain is not easy. This excludes the use of the system by some more or less untrained Syrian mercenaries.

My conclusion is that U.S. soldiers, likely some special forces, are in south Syria on Syrian ground on either reconnaissance or targeted killing missions. This is an invasion in violation of international law.

Russia plans to more than triple the airstrike sorties it flies per day in Syria. This to support the several thousand new fighters coming in now from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon to help the Syrian government and its people.

There should then be enough available flights and men to expulse the intruders from south Syria.

Posted by b on October 12, 2015 at 10:41 UTC | Permalink

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Strategic Culture's lead story notes that Obama's neocon rhetoric is coupled w more pragmatic actions consistent with "playing footsy w foreign adversaries." They present this schizophrenic behaviour as an aspect of the man's personality.

I would say that he's going along w Pax Americana (unipolarism) verbally while undermining it where he has command of instrumentalities. (Patriot removal; "no" to no-fly zone; "US will not confront Russia in Syria"; US pilots in Iraq ordered to diverge from Russian aircraft.)

Bits from Strategic Culture: "Obama has two separate strategies: one “above the table” waving his arms and talking tough like Official Washington’s arm-chair warriors do – and another “below the table” where he behaves as a pragmatic realist, playing footsy with foreign adversaries."
"the “under-the-table” Obama appears to recognize that the Russian entrance into the war is not the catastrophe that Official Washington, including Obama and his advisers, have made it out to be. Indeed, despite the fiery rhetoric from Obama and his aides, there is a logical correlation between Obama’s core interests in Syria and those of Russian President Vladimir Putin."

I proposed existence of a purposeful faction which draws back from the neocon's preferred outcome of Straussian chaos in favor of further growing the institutions of the NWO. And that the member of the banking cabal who is backing it is the Rockefeller group. It is interesting that the current issue of Foreign Affairs (Rockefeller's CFR journal) carries a Gideon Rose article the tone of which is that Obama is acting as any other Democratic president; go back to sleep. This, in the face of a huge loss of geopolitical strength in the Mid-East.!

And finally, PCR's article saying Obama has "realized" error of neocon way & is departing from it, per his interview on "60 Minutes"

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 13 2015 1:34 utc | 101

Pepe's latest, worth reading, imo.

Say hello to my cruise missiles

Ash Carter was very pleased with his new masterfully conceived strategy, which is bound to help “increase the combat power” of those elusive “moderate” rebels. And he swears Washington “remains committed” to training those “moderate” rebels, now on “different ways to achieve basically the same kind of strategic objective” mode.

It fell to the astonishingly mediocre Ben Rhodes, US deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, to expand on the new focus of the masterfully conceived “strategy”; “developing relationships with leaders and units [among Syrian armed groups], and being able to get them supplies and equipment.” Why not develop these “relationships” via a Facebook page? It’s cheap and way more effective.

Diplomatically, this was all about Moscow and Riyadh agreeing ISIS/ISIL/Daesh cannot be allowed to take over Syria. The devil is in the details. Much spin centered on a “political solution.” Putin once again could not be sharper; the current offensive is meant to “stabilize the legitimate authorities and create conditions for finding a political compromise.” The House of Saud got the message; it’s the Russian way or the highway.

The bottom line: the Pentagon was not invited and knew about the Iraqi strike by watching CNN.

Can't wait to see the new season of see what fabrications Hollywood comes up with.

Posted by: ShadyL | Oct 13 2015 2:16 utc | 102

@122 juliania.. what the lying msm needs to say is 'usa is adding more gasoline on an already well lit fire, hoping that it will extinguish the fire'.. any other wording is bullshit and just the standard propaganda fare..

@129 penelope.. obama can say whatever he wants to say.. if the usa dropped arms last night or today as broadcast by the propaganda media, he is an outright liar and continues on with his duplicitous bullshit.. from your first link "Obama was finally facing up to reality." bullshit..the usa is a warmongering nation par excellence.. that he is the duplicitous leader that says one thing while doing another is all any sane person needs to know..

this quote from a previous thread coming out of the obama's mouth “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki." same deal dropping the ammo... this is not about getting rid of isis.. it's about creating as much havoc in syria as the usa is capable of, while saying they are backing off.. and it looks like an experiment to see how russia wants to respond to it..

Posted by: james | Oct 13 2015 2:17 utc | 103

Man of the hour:

Meet The Ghostly Iranian Spymaster Running Every Mid-East Proxy War: "He Is Everywhere But Nowhere"

Posted by: ShadyL | Oct 13 2015 2:27 utc | 104

@105 lp re ouch..

Posted by: james | Oct 13 2015 2:43 utc | 105


It's amazing that Soleimani who has failed repeatedly in Iraq and Syria is still viewed as a celebrity and the man with the plan to win in Syria.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Oct 13 2015 3:08 utc | 106

Since I linked to the earlier article that said the SAA was victorious, here's the update, that Al Qaeda has pushed Syria mostly out of that key town: Islamist Rebels Reclaim Kafr Naboudeh in Northern Hama.

Posted by: fairleft | Oct 13 2015 3:20 utc | 107

If you will go to & skip down to the heading "France's Colonial Ambitions in Syria Since 2011"
You will see how the French created the Free Syrian Army.

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 13 2015 3:24 utc | 108

james / 134

Yes, that exposes perfectly the neocon immoral use of the murderous jihadis to achieve the neocons' own political ends.

My thesis, which is the undercurrent of the Strategic Culture piece, is that despite Obama's mouthing of the neocon line-- where he can be effective he acts to contravene it.

I cannot stomach the man. His outright lies have always seemed palpable. It is quite impossible for me to imagine how anyone can watch & listen to him while not knowing that he is lying. Nevertheless, there is a pattern of behavior which I have laid out in prior comments.

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 13 2015 3:38 utc | 109

@127 penelope

The military is not a bottom-up society. One of the reasons, surely one of the benefits in their eyes, of restricting US troop involvement to bombing and gambeboy murder is the abscence of USA trooper body bags, which is the only thing that brings the bottom of the military into play at all. The officers are dedicated murderers.

@134 james

I certainly agree with you on Obama. I don't believe any of this man-of-two-minds stuff at all. He's the same Nihilist Noble Peace Prize Laureate slash Serial Assassin he's always been, though now he is trying to project a 'better image' for his 'legacy' photo. Not quite ready for his close-up, Mr. DeMille ... but the machine is working on it.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 13 2015 3:49 utc | 110

@120 "I think his point was that the barrels are much more inaccurate and random than even normal dumb bombs. They aren't exactly aerodynamic and can land pretty much anywhere."

That argument leaves me rather cold, to be honest.

Here is your Barrel-shaped Bomb.

Yep, about as un-aerodynamic as a bomb can be.

Now, how do you drop it?

Answer: you load it into your helicopter, or your slow ol' transport plane, and you fly juuuuuust above the limit of small-arms fire. And when you think you are over the target then you shove the damn thing out of the cargo hold.


Sure. You are relying on your eye, and the bomb ain't exactly a dart.

But on the plus side you're not going very fast - if at all - and you aren't very high up.

You're gonna' miss lots of times, sure, you are. You're also going to score some hits because, heck, otherwise what is the point?

Now, by way of marked contrast, let's look at those "normal dumb bombs".

Certainly they are aerodynamic, but we can be equally-certain that they aren't being dropped from helicopters, and certainly not from the open door of transport planes.

So, how do you deliver those bombs on-target?

Answer: You strap 'em under the wings of fighter-bombers or ground-attack planes, and you send those planes screeeeeeaming through the target area at, what, 400+mph. Maybe more.

Maybe much, much more.

The pilot presses the tit when he thinks his timing is right and..... bombs away and let's get the hell outta' here....

If his thumb twitches a little too soon, or a little too late then he's Going To Miss By A Lot, and that will be true regardless of how aerodynamically-superior his dumb bomb is compared to their barrel bombs.

It's not just the bomb itself that counts in this, Plenue.

It is the entire delivery system, and on that score it's not at all clear that dropping barrel bombs from the cargo doors of hovering helicopters is going to be less accurate than flinging dumb bombs from under the wings of screaming jets.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Oct 13 2015 3:49 utc | 111

@ Yeah, Right | 142

Correct. This obsession with barrel bombs is such a dumb demonization propaganda, it boggles my mind someone falls for it.

Barrel bombs are mostly dropped by hovering helicopter, that means they hit more or less where intended, accuracy closer to guided missiles than unguided bombs.

Why? a) Because of gravity, and it works exactly the same if its barrel shape or the most aerodynamic bomb, it doesnt make any difference in this case, they both drop vertically like a 500kg stone from a standing still helicopter.

b) Unguided bombs are usually dropped by the fast flying jets, and not only gravity works in this case, but also inertia - an object in motion will continue in motion with the same speed and in the same direction (Newton's first law).

How it works:


Therefore West's politicians and media propaganda how Assad is "evil and bloody" because he uses barrel bombs is such a stupid line, they're actually more accurate and humane than millions tons of unguided bombs dropped by the West in the last 50 years. Not only Assad cares more where they drop (its his country), his army actually has better intelligence where to drop (because of 70-80% support by Syrians, SAA gets quality intelligence).

US on the other hand, couldnt care less how many civilians they kill on the other side of the World, and its intelligence is much weaker due to little to no support on the ground. Satellites and drones can only get you so far. Therefore we get daily news how they bomb hospitals, wedding ceremonies, kinder gardens, schools, etc.

Therefore I would go so far as to claim Assad's barrel bombs actually hit right targets more often than West's guided precise missiles.

Posted by: Harry | Oct 13 2015 5:13 utc | 112


I think you are correct about the technique of barrel bombing but miss the tactical purpose of this terror weapon. Hovering or slow flying helicopters are easy targets for rebel fighters on the ground so if they are delivered as you claim they are used against defenseless civilian targets which is what has been repeatedly reported.

Hospital personnel in Western Syria recently bombed by the Russians from high altitude without warning commented that they could hear Assad's barrel bombers coming and take shelter before the attacks.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Oct 13 2015 5:49 utc | 113

@ WayofISIS | 144

Hovering or slow flying helicopters are easy targets for rebel fighters on the ground

Thats why helicopters arent used in locations where terrorists have MANPADs.

they are used against defenseless civilian targets which is what has been repeatedly reported.

Its only reported like this by the terrorists and their supporters. Syrian civilians know much better whats going on in Syria than you or me, and yet 70-80% of native Syrians support Assad, would they do that if Assad would mass kill civilians for the hell of it? No, they wouldnt. Therefore your claim is stupid and baseless. Unlike your bellowed terrorists and their supporters, Assad and SAA dont intentionally kill civilians (sometimes casualties happen due fighting in the cities and terrorists using civilians as human shields), but its not the same as deliberately targeting them.

Posted by: Harry | Oct 13 2015 6:08 utc | 114

@144 "Hovering or slow flying helicopters are easy targets for rebel fighters on the ground".....

The assumption is that the "rebel fighters on the ground" have weapons that can reach those "hovering or slow flying helicopters".

But if they don't possess such weapons then your argument falls to the ground like.... well.... a barrel bomb.

I haven't seen the rebels in possession of anything bigger than what can be mounted on the back of a Toyota Hilux, which doesn't suggest anything bigger than, say, 20mm cannon or 50cal machine guns

Those weapons won't be able to reach much higher than 1,500m height, if that. A helicopter is going to have no trouble staying above that height in a hover even with a Big Arsed Barrel hanging out the back.

Don't get me wrong: hovering at 2000m would be suicidal in a real battlefield against a modern army that can dish up all manner of heat-seeking death-dealers. Sure, it would be.

But the forces that the Syrian Army are fighting against don't have MANPADS, nor can they call up a Combat Air Patrol to shoo those pesky choppers away.

Under those circumstances the Syrian Army can hover overhead till they spot something worth splattering, and then.... s.p.l.a.t!!!!!!

...." so if they are delivered as you claim they are used against defenseless civilian targets which is what has been repeatedly reported."

The very real problem that I have with that argument is that nobody seems to be able to come up with a good reason why Assad's forces would **want** to do that.

Assad himself dismisses the accusation with that very question i.e. why would he - or anyone, for that matter - think that dropping barrel bombs on civilians will help him in his fight against these rebels?

It's a valid question, made more so because it is pretty obvious that whatever else he is he ain't stooooopid.

So explain to me why he would want to deliberately drop those barrel bombs "against defenseless civilian targets"?

Because it does seem to be a rather daft thing for him to do. He thinks it so too, and he's not shy in saying so.

But, really, what do **you** think would motivate him to do that?
Please, explain to me what advantage he would gain by doing that?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Oct 13 2015 7:14 utc | 115

@all - deleted all comments (some 30) by a troll under the name "The Critic"

Neither I nor others here are in need or deserve constant personal insults.

Posted by: b | Oct 13 2015 7:43 utc | 116

I haven't had time to go through the majority of the comments tonight (my time) & B would know for sure via admin access, but it strikes me that there is a bit of " . . . this proves nothing . . . " negative/nothing-to-see-here-move-along-looks-like-he's-going-senile type comments, from names I don't recognise. I think most would agree that this site is at the "cutting edge" of reality based analysis on Syria & while it's not a closed shop, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that an effort is being made to denigrate B's work & that of the regular commentators. I could be paranoid though.

Posted by: Kiwicris | Oct 13 2015 8:15 utc | 117

guest77 | Oct 12, 2015 7:35:06 PM | 83
"Advancing alongside" and "aiding" al Qaeda, these are the forces backed by the US. Slowly but surely the USA is beginning to openly back al Qaeda.

Yep, they have been working on this for about a year now, think tanks 'floating' it, even a Guardian puff piece and interview of AN keaders in Qatar (from memory). Expect Presidential medals to be handed out to AQ leaders any day now.

Same old, same old. Extremist 'rebels' (and criminals and the corrupt) have been the preferred modus operandi of the US for decades now..Pol Pot anyone, mafia in Italy in WW2 and all the rest?

Because this is so consistent a pattern (and nearly always blows up in their face) you have to look at cultural and emotional reasons for this, because it is certainly not rational.

Posted by: Lisa | Oct 13 2015 8:22 utc | 118

@119 b

Thanks b. I just skip over that stuff, but it does take up a lot of room, and some folks do read it, are antagonized by it, and actually reply to it. We should all know by now just to skip it and wait for the sweeper to clean up after the parade. Unfortunately that's you, jack of all trades.

It is a pity you have to spend time cleaning up after the trolls b. Thanks again for all the fine work you do, and for the time you put in on such mundane chores. I'm sure everyone else appreciates it as much as I do.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 13 2015 9:00 utc | 119

OT - but ...

MH-17 Crash Accident Report to be Released Today by DSB

Odd report from Philippine island Tawi-Tawi, due east from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:
MH370 wreckage in Tawi-Tawi?

Posted by: Oui | Oct 13 2015 10:25 utc | 120

Ivan @10 asks "And how is such a thing brought down almost intact?" This story, from the same region, is probably relevant:

Six Israeli UAVs Downed in Southern Syria: Drones Caught Spying on Hezbollah Positions

Five of them crashed intact, and the sixth was shot down. It suggests that Russia has supplied the Syrians with the jammers that did this.

Posted by: sarz | Oct 13 2015 11:01 utc | 121

@125 Well, yes, that would be the implication.

But I not sure you should believe that "news".

Six Israeli UAV's go down inside SAA-held (or even Hezbollah-held) territory and the Syrians *don't* rush to put the wreckage on display for the various reptiles of the press?

Can't even spare one to embarrass Netanyahu?

Hmmmm, not really buying that, sorry.

Maybe they did go down.
Maybe they didn't.
Maybe there were never there.

But I'd hang a big ol' "maybe" on that story unless/until someone starts showing videos of the wreckage.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Oct 13 2015 11:11 utc | 122

MH-17 Conclusions
Controversy about warhead will be found in Appendix L: About the Investigation.

Important end conclusion DSB: could not pin-point the exact location from where the BUK missile was launched. The Dutch Safety Board did NOT accept the location indicated by the State of Ukraine. The global area had the size of 320

Posted by: Oui | Oct 13 2015 11:49 utc | 123

@125 and @126: I posted this a while ago and b commented on p. 1 of these comments. It was suggested on the previous page that the drones are small and cheap and when one runs out of juice (not sure how they're powered) it simply drops to the ground and another one is sent up. So, if that is so, it is not a big deal that they're recovered intact. The fact that 5 were recovered _might_ means it just took awhile before Hezbollah or SAA forces started noticing them and taking measures against them.

Posted by: fairleft | Oct 13 2015 11:53 utc | 124

b's link ...

' The U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corp are the only known users.'

... leads to a wikipedia page, which may well have been written by the manufacturer of the drone, that sells it as a weapon.

When you think about it, what good is a 10 minute observation drone? One that then runs out of fuel and crashes? Ordinary drones would have been much more effective for surveillance. And much cheaper. They would have flown back.

These seem to cost more than $100k apiece. If they were throwing these '$100k handgrenades' they would have been destroyed. If they were just using them for surveillance they were literally throwing money away.

They might have been ordered to use up their stock so they could buy more. They're dropping ammunition out of airplanes in the dessert by the ton. Don't underestimate the 'burn through the ordnance' rationale. The point is not 'just' DD&D, but WF&A - waste, fraud, and abuse - to enrich the armaments manufacturers in the course of DD&D. From the perspective of the arms merchants the whole point of war is to sell weapons. The whole point of the military is WF&A. DD&D is the excuse for WF&A.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 13 2015 12:43 utc | 125


With those poll numbers you can support Assad without a guilty conscience or empathy for the 20 to 30% of Syrians who must be what Assad and Putin describes as Terrorists. Some people may view this as blaming the victim for forcing the Benevolent Dictator to butcher them but we know that sacrifices must be made and minority Alawites are the chosen people destined to rule over Syria.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Oct 13 2015 14:41 utc | 126

Re: the troll scat from "The Critic" which b had to clean up -- this piece by Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept on methods taught for disrupting internet discussions might be pertinent. Even it it s from early 2014….

It primarily covers destruction of reputations to make people less likely to trust the messages about government wrong doing, tactics, etc,. but it also includes messing around with internet community exchanges. Include enough dreck in a comment thread and people may start staying away in disgust.

Managing comments is never easy and the NSA and its ilk work to make it even harder. Thanks, b, for all you do.

Posted by: jawbone | Oct 13 2015 16:26 utc | 127

@129 "When you think about it, what good is a 10 minute observation drone? One that then runs out of fuel and crashes?"

I doubt that it is actually intended to be used as an "observation drone".

It would make much more sense to use it as a Smart Substitute For A Mortar Round, but one where the shell has a 10 minute hang-time and can be manoeuvred to drop from the sky from any direction.

Launch it when you get pinned down, swing it around until you can see who is doing that pinning down, then guide it onto the back of their head. Kaboom!

But an "observation drone"?

Well, heck, nobody would WANT to attempt to recover it after launch, precisely because the damn thing has a live warhead at the pointy-end.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Oct 13 2015 23:02 utc | 128

yeah, right @135
I think that's perfectly logical, and I expect they are working on refining those tactics - but, in this case 5 or 6 of them were found un-exploded, and lightly damaged in the case of the photographed example. Lightly damaged as in not shot down but just ran out of power and fell from the sky onto the beautiful syrian landscape. Which seems to favor the 'bring a dozen of them in a couple backpacks' recon version.

I also can't see the earlier-posited 100 grand or so apiece as a reasonable price. Maybe 100 grand plus for the whole system including comms links, software, battery chargers, tough-book controller, a couple mortar/launch rigs, training for a couple weeks for a couple students, and a few switchblades. Then you just buy replacement switchblades by the pallet load. most of them could be the recon version with extra batteries instead of c4. some could have the explosive package - which costs extra of course.
ya gotta remember dod's obsession with multi role versions.

Someone earlier invoked Dune, and the idea of 'hunter-seeker' assassination weapons. It seems like the future always gets here too fast. Offensive systems always lead defense. I hope they are much more expensive than I think. but history clearly shows the trends on weaponry prices.

Posted by: sillybill | Oct 14 2015 2:22 utc | 129

@136 I am not at all convinced that the photo that b shows at the top of this article is one of the "5 or 6 drones" that were reported to have been recovered.

Note that the article that references that "5 or 6 drones" reports that one of them "was downed by the soldiers from the SAA’s 5th Division after they received reports of an aircraft circling the Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) training camps in the Rif Dimashq Governorate’s southern countryside near the Dara’a Governorate border."

That's a mighty quick response time from the 5th division, considering that they had to get there and start shooting within 10 minutes of receiving that report.

This needs to be stressed: we can be certain that ONE drone fell from the sky, because b has shown us the photo.

There is also a report that claims that up to 6 drones dropping from the sky, but that report is unverified - certainly nobody has shown a photo to anyone of a lineup of "5 or 6" battered hulks.

Scepticism is warranted: the report of "5 or 6" drones going down is in no way verified, and could simply be the figment of someone's over-eager imagination.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Oct 14 2015 5:21 utc | 130

I certainly have no special access to any info about Syria. Re-reading the comments here, it sounds like the perfect description of hell.

It's interesting to read about a few American kids who were arrested for trying to go to Syria to fight for something or other. It sounded like they had been convinced that the war would be nice and warm and gratifying. People will believe anything if you just say it the right way. Now I understand what my grandfather tried to tell me.

Posted by: blues | Oct 14 2015 10:31 utc | 131

@138 Yet isn't it interesting that "American kids" like Rahm Emanuel can flock to a foreign country to help them in their military adventurism, and nobody lifts a finger to put a stop to that practice?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Oct 14 2015 10:39 utc | 132

@128 yr

You make the same point I did, don't you?

@129 sb

At b's known users link the number of drones in the initial purchase is given as 75 for a cost of $10 million. Further on there is talk of replenishment, the dollars climb toward $100 million. I take the non-specification of how many of these drones they bought for $100 million to mean they paid too much. If they only cost 1/10 of the initial order they still cost $13,000 apiece. Expensive handgrenade. DD&D fuels WF&A.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 15 2015 1:33 utc | 133

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