Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 12, 2015

Today's Battle Progress In Iraq and Syria

(Sorry for the lack of maps but as I am time constricted.)

The fight against Islamic fundamentalist in Iraq ad Syria rapidly progressed today. U.S. air support in Iraq and Russian air support in Syria enabled the various ground forces to take significant amounts of ground.

Russia continues to build out its arsenal in Syria and may soon introduce more ground and air components.

After several days preparations by U.S bombing 7,000 Kurdish and Yezidi forces today attacked the Islamic State from the Sinjar mountain range southwards towards Sinjar city. Sinjar is about 50 kilometers east of the border between Syria and Iraq. Just south of the city lies the important Highway 47 which is the main transport artery between Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

The attackers were supported on the ground by U.S. Forward Air Controllers who called in pinpoint airstrikes whenever the attack was held up. The operation succeeded faster than expected. The city is surrounded by YPG and Peshmerga forces and a wide stretch of the highway is now under Kurdish control. First units are breaking onto the city. The main problem are now snipers, mines and booby traps and the bloody phase in the city will take a while. Counterattacks on the highway are to be expected but are unlikely to succeed over the open land as long as the U.S. air force provides cover for the Kurds.

Progress in Syria was even better. After yesterday reliefing the IS besieged Queires airport east of Aleppo, more ground around the airport was taken today. The plan seems to be to free the area between the airport east of Aleppo, which was relieved from the south, and Aleppo city in the west from all enemies. The thermal power station between the airport and the city was taken today. The airport will be rehabilitated and will allow for rapid, short distance air support for all further operations between Aleppo and the Turkish border.

South west of Aleppo the successful campaign towards the highway between Aleppo southward to Idleb, Hama, Homs and Damascus progressed fast. The al-Qaeda/Jabhat al-Nusra held town Al-Hadher was taken today surprisingly fast and the attack immediately proceeded further west towards the highway capturing Al-Eis. The highway, now only 2 kilometers away, is currently under al-Qaeda/FSA control and is an important resupply road from Turkey to the al-Qaeda occupied areas further south.

East of Damascus a military airport Marj Al-Sultan in the hands of Jaysh al-Islam was retaken by government forces after air preparations. A cordon around the insurgent held east-Ghouta area was thereby established for the first time in three years. East-Ghouta is used by the insurgents to fire mortars and rockets into Damascus. The area is now under siege and will be cleaned up in due time.

There have been sightings of new Russian weapons in Latakia near the Mediterranean coast. For the first time a T-90 main battle tank was seen in Syria (unconfirmed). This is the most modern Russian tank in service and will have a Russian crew. The tank may belong to a new Russian ground component. At the Russian military airport in Latakia a 96L6 acquisition radar for a S-300PMU2 or S-400 air and missile defense battery was seen (confirmed). The Russian troops will no longer depend on the sea based air defense cover provided by the missile cruiser Moskva. They now have a mobile long range air defense with a range of 300-400 km established on the ground. This can be easily moved further inland to cover all of west-Syria as needed. Russia is working to increase the number of air sorties it can provide per day and is equipping an additional airport. Additional planes and helicopters are expected to arrive soon.

Three One suicide attacks in the Shia dominated area of Ayn al-Sikkeh in south Beirut in Lebanon killed at least 25 37 civilians and wounded some 100 180. This was likely an al-Qaeda terror attack seen as revenge for Hizbullah's support for the Syrian government ISIS claimed to be responsible for the attack.

The official U.S. strategy in Syria was build on unicorns: a Free Syrian Army of secular Syrians and a political support group of exiles that would create the new government of Syria. What is left of the unicorn Free Syrian Army criminals is now deserting. The current head of the hotel exiles, the "Interim Governor of Syria" Ahmad Tameh, crossed into Syria from Turkey today to set up some just-for.-show government. The insurgents of the Islamist Levantine Front in Syria told him to get lost and he had to flee back to Turkey. The official U.S. strategy in Iraq was to build up a Sunni force to take on and defeat the Islamic State. It turns out that the potential leaders of such an Anbar-Awakening-version-2  force have been killed by the Islamic State or are no longer willing to take part in such a risky endeavor. Only the government supporting forces in Iraq as well as in Syria will be able to regain significant territory from the Islamic State and other terrorist forces.

Posted by b on November 12, 2015 at 17:22 UTC | Permalink


thanks b. we all appreciate your work and updates on this here.

Posted by: james | Nov 12 2015 17:53 utc | 1

Yes, many thanks b.

Posted by: juliania | Nov 12 2015 18:06 utc | 2

It sounds like things are swinging into high-gear.
The fall of Kuweiris might have been the turning point for the jihadi terrorists.

Posted by: plantman | Nov 12 2015 18:17 utc | 3

That corridor in Northern Syria between Jarablus and Afrin has to be closed, it is through that corridor that all the logistics of weaponry, men and other material flow from Turkey. Turkey is desperate to keep this supply line open. Islamic state is a paper tiger, blown up out of all proportion by the west as superhuman, they would wither on the vine like any army, if that corridor was closed.

Posted by: harry law | Nov 12 2015 18:35 utc | 4

Finally more good news, but it's still not the end.

Posted by: Fernando | Nov 12 2015 18:40 utc | 5

IS is not a paper tiger, the fight to reaches Kuiweres was very hard. IS may lack the number of TOWs that the rebels have, but they have better command and discipline. However, Iran finally unleashed troops that they were collecting, and their effectiveness seems to be increasing. A Syrian force that reached Kuiweres was relieved by the new guys who immediately took over 3-4 more villages. In the meantime, offensive against the rebels south of Aleppo accelerated, and either they got most of the new forces against them, or they are relative pushovers when compared to IS.

I think that both Russia and Iran will increase the respective inputs, air support and ground forces, so this week progress will be sustained.

Lashing out against civilians in the aftermath of a defeat is common to IS and moderates, besides the bombing in Lebanon and still uncertain Russian plane bombing, "moderates" killed more than 20 civilians in a barrage on the university in Latakia.

By the way, a twitter reposted on Peto Lucem showed a photo on some heavy equipment on (claimed) Russian air force base near Latakia, and claimed that this is S-400 system, perhaps a larger number is coming. Soon flying over Syria will be by government permission only.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 12 2015 18:51 utc | 6

That securing of the Kweris airbase was essential to mostly snuff out the threats by Turkish/US invasion that's being organised, in that area at least. And I think it's why so much urgency we shown by the leadership of the Russians for the Kweris Airport safety, and which seems to be the biggest Russian organised mission to date in Syria.
Then Immediately, send some S-400's to the airport and show that you're not fucking around when countering the US empires pre-text "no-fly zone" bullshit, that's really cover for an invasion to steal territory from the Syrians in the north.

Posted by: tom | Nov 12 2015 19:19 utc | 7

Since the Vienna Agreement, nothing's been heard about the 50 Special Terrorists the Outlaw Empire was going to invade Syria with. Same with air strikes as they also violate Syria's territorial integrity.

What became of Iraq's formal request for Russian intervention? Legislation demanding such was supposed to be enacted by Iraqi Parliament last week, but I've read nothing.

TASS has published an item detailing the Empire's attempt to take over the Vienna process, while also detailing Daesh et al's chemical warfare weapons and usage, whose precursors are presumably supplied by nations allied with them,

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 12 2015 19:42 utc | 8

@7 tom.. i think the airport needs to be brought back to life and needs to repair work on it.. might take a while to get it going, but obviously it is a big priority. i read earlier today about turkey wanting to send in ground troops.. not sure if that is just optics, or what..

Posted by: james | Nov 12 2015 20:03 utc | 9

Thanks b, for the thorough update and the wonderful news. Seeing a picture of the feared S-400 system in Syria is reassuring. Putin/Shoigu/Lavrov are not fucking around, and for Russia there is no alternative to victory. Fascist Erdogan et al might be foaming at the mouth, their no-fly zone a delusion gone with the Siberian winds cleaning up Syria from the stench of the empire.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Nov 12 2015 20:07 utc | 10

Maps of the Sinjar District - Mount Shingal effort:

Sinjar's strategic location is on the M4 highway supply route and the only practical connection between Iraqi Mosel and Syrain Raqqa. Retaking Sinjar means ISIS territory will be split into separate Syrian and Iraqi parts. This affects supply which runs in both directions.

The current effort is not just for the city of Sinjar, but the district and highways that cross it.

The corrupt, western-puppet Kurdish KDP party is paranoid about losing control of Sinjar as an independent canton to either the Syrian Rojava Kurds (YPG) or the Sinjar local militias (HPS/YBS). The KRG Peshmerga (KDP) said three days ago they had no immediate plans to retake Sinjar, but acted in coordination with (or maybe just in reaction to) the Rojava and Yazidi locals assault to retake the city. The two 'sides' are pretty clear on this map. The Peshmerga ostensibly operate under the unified KRG government, but are seen as loyal to the KDP party and serve their will over the other political parties in the KRG government.

Neither the Rojava nor the Yazidi locals have any political ambitions about an independent Sinjar canton. The PKK generally despise the KDP and would prefer Sinjar Yazidi decide on their own how they will participate in a larger Kurdistan. The KDP is trying to lock down control of all Kurdish territory as 'theirs' and is generally not willing to share power with any of the other Iraqi Kurdish or Rojava Kurd political parties. It will be interesting to see what happens when PKK troops meet the Peshmerga in the middle of Sinjar. The troops themselves are all Kurds and have little animosity towards each other. The domineering attitude of the KDP seems problematic, particularly since they seem beholden to either U.S./Israeli interests or Barazani's powerful mob family.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 12 2015 20:08 utc | 11

I thought USA said to Iraq "Us or Russia".. whatever happened to that red line?

Posted by: bbbbb | Nov 12 2015 20:12 utc | 12

Sources for the maps/graphics above from various Tweets found here.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 12 2015 20:14 utc | 13

Why would the US do this now?
Do they plan to destroy ISIS in Raqqa and use it as part of a "safe zone" controlled by Washington?

And do the future pipeline corridors run thru Raqqa????
Where's William Engdahl when you need him?

Posted by: plantman | Nov 12 2015 20:34 utc | 14

Where's William Engdahl when you need him?

Posted by: plantman | Nov 12, 2015 3:34:28 PM | 13

Maybe some answers here:
Saudi Russo Rapprochement Back on Track

Further indication that a global tectonic shift away from Washington was underway came just three days after Prince Salman’s Sochi talks with Putin. Alexander Novak, Russian Energy Minister, announced that Russia is planning to meet with Saudi Arabian counterparts, as well as Iranian, in November. They will discuss the current oil market. Novak stated, “The meeting with Saudi Arabia, as well as with the Iranians will be held in November.”

Posted by: citizen X | Nov 12 2015 20:49 utc | 15

Thanks citizen X

What a hoot!
Imagine if the Saudis worked out a deal with "evil" Putin???
John McCain would have a freaking stroke on the floor of the senate!

Posted by: plantman | Nov 12 2015 21:17 utc | 16

Ah, the plot sickens.
Has ISIL lost it's usefulness to the empire? The whole Toyota Truck bruhaha has been essentially ignored ... but it indicates that when the Russians, a major player despite US propaganda, got involved the covers began to come off of the bed-buddies ...
Thanks b.

Posted by: Rg an LG | Nov 12 2015 21:19 utc | 17

"The fight against Islamic fundamentalist in Iraq ad Syria rapidly progressed today. U.S. air support in Iraq and Russian air support in Syria enabled the various ground forces to take significant amounts of ground."

Interesting to see support for American air power on an "anti-imperialist" website but then again I think it would be more accurate to describe it as anti-jihadist, right? Frankly I haven't seen such spleen directed at Islamic rebels outside of Pam Geller or Frontpage. Christopher Hitchens was right all along, I guess.

Posted by: Louis Proyect | Nov 12 2015 22:04 utc | 18

re 10

Sinjar's strategic location is on the M4 highway supply route and the only practical connection between Iraqi Mosel and Syrain Raqqa.
This is wrong. There's a vast flat plain south of Jabal Sinjar. You can choose any road you like over it. Maybe not tarmac, but that could be changed quite quickly.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 12 2015 22:12 utc | 19

@6: my take was Soleimani let the Tiger forces, with their photogenic commander Colonel al-Hassan, prominently lead the Kuweires assault. Hassan was less successful during the Jisr Hospital drama, where all his efforts came to naught, and the entrapped soldiers eventually made a turkey run for the exits, with many losing their lives.
As usual the heavy lifting was done by Hezbollah and RuAF. Soleimani apparently ran things from behind the scenes. But it was a wise move, since there is a lot of acrimony amongst Syrians about the callous manner in which troops were left to their fate in some of these remote bases. The question is who commanded them to stay put, when the only realistic solution was to retreat asap. Of course the corrupt and incompetent SAA high command has been quiet about this. Hassan managed to put up a good show, and also seems to be a good commander; some of the emotional damage of the past has now been repaired. However I suspect that many of the traumatized Kuweires survivors will quietly wonder who has been making these bad decisions in the past. And the fact that Soleimani ran the operation tells you all you need to know about the SAA high command.
Now that the emotional part is over, Soleimani can get back to business. The first thing he did was to redeploy Tiger forces, i.e. get them out of the way, and bring in effective units. The result was immediate, again proving in what a dismal state the SAA is. The weakness of the army was a feature of the minority rule system established by Assad’s father. In a way the minority rule system has been biting the Syrian government in its ass, since when it needed strong local militias and an effective army to ward off the US attacks, those were missing by design.

Posted by: tolo | Nov 12 2015 22:21 utc | 20

Here's south front's rundown with maps, but with lots less information than b provides. It's good to hear of the successful action on the ground. The new, shorebased and mobile wide-area anti-aircraft capability is a measure of Russia's commitment and further plans to help with liberation of Syria farther afield. It's a good day for the Syrians, may they have many more. The previous south front call for more Syrian Army participation seems to have been answered. I guess it's a case of never asking a question in public without knwing the answer, at least at propaganda outlets. With airbases in Aleppo and Damascus al-CIAduh/De'ish will be cut off from resupply from both Turkey and Jordam.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 12 2015 22:47 utc | 21

I assume that the smart move now for Assad is to offer amnesty for any unicorn fighters who would have (nominally, anyway) owe their allegiance to the failed "govt in exile".

After all, those exiles "leaders" have run for the hills, so why not temp their foot soldiers back into the fold?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Nov 12 2015 23:28 utc | 22

What Is the Battle of Armageddon?
The Bible’s answer
The battle of Armageddon refers to the final war between human governments and God. These governments and their supporters oppose God even now by refusing to submit to his rulership. (Psalm 2:2) The battle of Armageddon will bring human rulership to an end.—Daniel 2:44.

The word “Armageddon” occurs only once in the Bible, at Revelation 16:16. Prophetically, Revelation shows that at “the place that is called in Hebrew Armageddon,” “the kings of the entire inhabited earth” will be gathered “together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.”—Revelation 16:14.

Posted by: balthazar | Nov 12 2015 23:58 utc | 23

Czar Putin to the rescue..all hail the Czar!! Meanwhile back in his Russian gangster state the mobsters rule with an iron fist. No wonder Assad likes the guy. They are peas in a pod. Islam, Communism and Nazism all the same level of mania and ruthless lust for power and blood at the expense of the decent and worthy peoples of the world. God is coming to clean it all away soon. Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

Posted by: balthazar | Nov 13 2015 0:06 utc | 24

How did you wander so far afield Balthazar? Caspar and Melchior are desperately seeking your help back at Starbucks in the war to defend Christmas.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Nov 13 2015 0:28 utc | 25

Hey Balthazar,

If you really hate Putin so much, you should go to Syria and join your jihadi buddies.

Just make sure you have plenty of life insurance first.

Posted by: plantman | Nov 13 2015 0:54 utc | 26

I remember when this 'what to do' moment occurred, four years ago during OWS.
Like a puddle of piss it soon was all forgotten.

I too think citizens are being made to feel irrelevant as lawless corporate
greed dominate mainstream history in the making, while ignoring public
will. All are aboard but the public at large which stands mute and voice-
The vast majority of this public is distracted and wholly unable to function
as the gulf widens between it and those aboard the corrupt new history
What to do. What to do.
A small fraction of the disenfranchised are genuinely altruistic and can
always be counted on to actively participate and selflessly give their
support. This is where we're at.
Neither #OWS nor Tea Party gets it. The first is inarticulate. The other
frustrated and subverted by wealth.
This leaves options that work, or have in the past. I offer representation
as in citizen participation, as the only avenue forward to reclaim goodness
Robert's Rules of Order in simplified form will enable the most skeptical
to fathom good comprehension where printed agenda's are offered too.
Give me three (3) motivated people and each local public meeting becomes
fluid. I said that.
Or, return to options in myth, perhaps where the mute and voiceless now

Two well traveled gents enjoyed food and drink at an inn during one of Europe's bloody wars. The conversation drifted to one's philosophy of life. "Its like there are two armies joined always in battle, allegiance change often, and with death, famine, pestilence and natural tragedy comes a giant with seven league boots who rampages the countryside indescrimately killing people. My philosophy is to enjoy life, help my fellow man, and occasionally pitch a pail of grease under the boots."

Posted by: sevenleagueboots | Nov 13 2015 1:21 utc | 27


You'll notice I used the qualifier 'practical'. ISIS can run back and forth across the border in their Hiluxes all day long without using Hwy. 47. On the other hand, the ISIS heavy tractor-trailers carrying tons of Turkish ammonium nitrate have lost their 6-hour paved highway route and are now faced with two day's worth of unimproved dirt roads. This, presuming they could navigate the terrain which is not simply a flat, hard plain all the way across to al Raqqa.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 13 2015 1:32 utc | 28

@ 22 balthazar

“the place that is called in Hebrew Armageddon,”

There is a place called Tel Meguido תל מגידו but there is no place called Armaggedon in Hebrew.

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Nov 13 2015 1:35 utc | 29

Perhaps there is presently a need to call a garden tool a garden tool. We now call all these assorted “insurgents” about a dozen names now, and there are undoubtedly distinctions to be found between them. But, in one way or another, they generally all work for the same masters: The money powers.

These money powers might well be called the FIC, or Financial/Intelligence Complex. This is presumably what happens when wealth condensation (the monetary snowball effect) leads to the rich hiring peasant armies to neutralize each other.

Religion, ethnicity, etc. make excellent fig leaves for what is principally occurring.

The point here is – all red herrings aside, that the parties holding condensed wealth are paying the peasants to destroy each other. Most rich (relative to the peasants) people develop a mental derangement similar to sadism – opulopathy. So they play war games.

Posted by: blues | Nov 13 2015 2:09 utc | 30

Thanks b, MoA, my first stop always.

blues @ 29: Hit the nail right on the head.

Posted by: ben | Nov 13 2015 2:26 utc | 31

There are no signs of any TELs in the Live Leak images from Syria. From what I can make out the 96L6 radar highlighted in the images can be used with the S-300 but can also function as a low-altitude detection set surveillance radar. So it might just be there to provide warning of low-altitude aircraft approaching the airfield

Posted by: blowback | Nov 13 2015 2:26 utc | 32


I really appreciate this news and appreciate also the fact that you were in a hurry when you wrote this.
Still, no matter what kind of a hurry you were in you should never write a sentence like the following: " After yesterday reliefing the IS besieged Queires airport east of Aleppo, more ground around the airport was taken today."
It is hard be get any sense out of this one. But my best guess would be "IS finally recovered Queires airport," which I am quite sure is not what you meant to say.
No matter how pressed you are for time, you should never hurry.

Posted by: Roger Milbrandt | Nov 13 2015 3:05 utc | 33

While reading about the liberation of Kweires airbase in Syrian Perspective, there was a Maria Engström among the commentators who seemed to be well respected by all other posters for her credentials on Syria.

Her name linked to a Google+ page, and there I found the following videos. The first one is about a very emotional Syrian reporter giving a narrative of the link-up between the SAA and the Kweires soldiers under siege. First version of the video link is only Arabic without subs, the second one with a "drunken sailor" subs translation.

Syria SAA reach Kuweires military airport

News Report: Syria Army Breaks the 3-Year Siege of Kweires Airbase, Capitalizes on Russian Support

The second video I actually caught on Maria's page, but was removed by YouTube for graphic reasons, and it shows the final stages of the assault on Kweires airbase. Now you have to sign in to watch it, a real drag. Sorry.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Nov 13 2015 3:38 utc | 34

Forgot the link to the second video. Here it is.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Nov 13 2015 3:41 utc | 35

@32 Roger Milbrandt.. you seem like an intelligent person.. when english isn't a persons first language, how do you factor that in? curious..

Posted by: james | Nov 13 2015 3:52 utc | 36

You have to hand it to Louis, his thinking is so simplistic that he can't imagine any difference between two groups which both fit the description: "Islamic rebels". Those are more than two vague words for Louis - they are a value judgement as well. He has, apparently, so intellectualized and romanticized his notions of "Islamic" and "rebels" that they are apparently no more than fluffy abstractions.

"Islamic rebels" must be above reproach because we all know that "Islam" is not the bad thing right wing racists characterize it as, and and "rebels" are good because "rebellion" is means fighting the powerful, and that is always a good thing. "THE END" says Mr. Proyect - and I agree with him here, and on both counts! But then to stop the thinking there is a grave mistake, certainly. Because of course there is Islam which is right wing and fascistic itself! And there is rebellion - such as those that the Nazis carried out against the Weimar Republic - which is disastrous and wrong. There is a huge difference between such as "Islamic Rebels" like Hezbollah and "Islamic rebels" such as ISIS.

Oh well, I'm actually jealous of Louis. It must be an incredibly easy world to live in, where you can simply plop yourself down on your cooshy notions and kick your feet up on a stereotypes and call it a day!

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 13 2015 3:54 utc | 37

"The [US] operation succeeded faster than expected."

We'll of course it did, The American's can fight! It's good news that the Iraqi government chalks up another victory - though sadly this is just more proof that the US has been holding back during this war.

The US seems to be picking up the pace. Who knew that the idea of capitalist competition could successfully be applied to wartime? ;) Maybe France *should* get involved as well. After all, the US military wouldn't be caught dead making a weaker war effort than the French! They might even go capture Mosul just to make a point....

I'm personally just glad to see that $1Trillion a year can actually make a force which produces some military victories. I guess that trillion gets the US people more than just corrupt contracts for shitty, overpriced fighter jets and to paying high profile billionaires some extra millions to show some basic patriotism.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 13 2015 4:12 utc | 38

It is hard be get any sense out of this one. But my best guess would be "IS finally recovered Queires airport," which I am quite sure is not what you meant to say.
No matter how pressed you are for time, you should never hurry.
Posted by: Roger Milbrandt | Nov 12, 2015 10:05:12 PM | 32

Unsolicited advice rings a bit hollow when ignored by the "expert" offering it.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 13 2015 4:15 utc | 39

I think this YouTube comment pretty much sums up the feelings of the US people:

Jason Brown 1 day ago
Anyone but those Daesh retards

The US propagandists really outsmarted itself this time.

It let its allies set up this ruthless terror organization so that US officials could go all over the news screaming about the ISIS threat. But when they tried to pull the (re)switcheroo (bad Assad, no - bad ISIS, no - bad Assad again!) and remind us all that Assad is the enemy here - the image of ISIS as totally ruthless animals stuck so hard that no one even cares about Assad as a "threat" anymore.

And no amount of phony videos, false flags, or references to barrel bombs seem to be able to reverse that feeling.

Tsk tsk, Mr. Obama.... "When at first we practice to deceive..." and all that jazz, ya know?

It seems Syria is here to stay - and Iraq too, Inshallah.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 13 2015 4:29 utc | 40

Saw this map on twitter today if you want it.

NEW MAP: #SAA / #Hezbollah captured strategic town of #Hadher and is attacking #Al_Eis. #Aleppo #Syria #FSA #Nusra

— Peto Lucem (@PetoLucem) November 12, 2015

Posted by: gemini33 | Nov 13 2015 4:31 utc | 41

Shameless Yale Hussies

The rich and pampered become protesters of political erectness. While Skull and Bones remains comfortably within their midst.

As per usual. All red herrings aside, that the parties holding condensed wealth are paying the peasants to destroy each other. Most rich (relative to the peasants) people develop a mental derangement similar to sadism – opulopathy. So they play war games.

Yet they pretend to “protest”.

Super-rich vampires never can get enough peasant blood.

Posted by: blues | Nov 13 2015 4:57 utc | 42

Oh yeah I love my college (Yale). No safe space here.

Rich kids need lots of space safe. (From the rest of us.)

We are the unclean.

Yale Students Whine and Moan About a Lack of Safe Space

Posted by: blues | Nov 13 2015 5:16 utc | 43

Citizen X @ 14,
Regarding Saudi motives. Many of us think the Saudi extra oil production which tanked the price was requested by the US to tank Russia's economy. Obviously this has hurt the Saudi budget too, especially while they are supporting two wars. But the straw that broke Saudis back may be the expected FURTHER drop in oil prices. Zerohedge is announcing that most storage sites everywhere are full & so are a lot of tankers, left as floating storage.

Posted by: Penelope | Nov 13 2015 5:42 utc | 44

About the IS/CIA Toyota trucks referred to at # 16, is a good introduction to the subject.

Posted by: Alexander Grimsmo | Nov 13 2015 6:17 utc | 45

RUSSIAN PLANE: Sorry off-topic, but there's news Scroll down to video of a man in a checked shirt. He is Flightradar24's Mikael Robertsson.

He says the speed went from 400 knots to 62 knots!

If the airframe was intact this cannot have occurred unless it was approaching a stall. (That is, unless the nose was pulled up steeply so that the airspeed over the wing was insufficient.) Since a pilot would not do that and there was no ferocious storm, only the electronics being hacked or a backdoor in the software would be capable of taking the plane's attitude in the air away from the pilot. However, that is ONLY if the airframe
is intact.

New material:

Posted by: Penelope | Nov 13 2015 6:35 utc | 46

@42 - what in the world was that about?

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 13 2015 7:15 utc | 47


Americans never cared about Assad in the first place. That's why there's been all this nonsense with proxy armies; because the push for a direct invasion of Syria ran up against nothing but negative public opinion.

Posted by: Plenue | Nov 13 2015 7:24 utc | 48


The Iraqi government has seized two planes of the US-led anti-ISIL coalition member states that were carrying weapons to the Kurdistan Region without prior coordination or information of Baghdad, Head of the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Commission Hakem al-Zameli disclosed on Monday.

“The inspection committee in Baghdad International Airport has found a huge number of rifles equipped with silencers, as well as light and mid-sized weapons,” Zameli said.
He noted that a Swedish and a Canadian airplanes were going to fly to Iraq’s Kurdistan region, but they were seized after arms cargoes were discovered.
Also in February, a senior lawmaker disclosed that Iraq’s army has shot down two British planes as they were carrying weapons for the ISIL terrorists in Al-Anbar province.

Posted by: Penelope | Nov 13 2015 7:35 utc | 49


Ground speed 62 Kts. At that time the plane was in a very steep dive. The PDF put out by flight radar had had GPS data for ground speed, vertical speed and heading. PDF available from flightradar24 site.
I mapped the positions of tail debris, wing?forward fuselage debris, first pressure anomaly in the data, last known location.
Tail debris is within 500 to 1000 meters from first anomaly in the data. From the last known position the wing/fuselage section turned back towards the tail section, perhaps inverted.
After the first anomaly the aircraft started to nose over into a dive. At last GPS recorded position, the remains of the plane were in a near vertical dive at 26000 ft. From that position the debris ended up 2-3 kilometers back towards the tail.

Posted by: Peter | Nov 13 2015 8:03 utc | 50

re 27

"You'll notice I used the qualifier 'practical'."

I see you're only capable of living in a world of well-made two-lane highways. Other people are more resourceful.

That's even supposing that the road is really cut. Kurdish conquests are frequently less complete than they claim. It's better not to believe the partisan maps which show grand conquests.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 13 2015 8:42 utc | 51

the lebanesr bombing
45 is a number that could have been much, much higher if it weren’t for the bravery and courage of one man named Adel Termos, a father of two. When the first suicide bomber committed the first terrorist attack, Adel saw the second one approaching the crowds gathering outside the targeted mosque.

He ran at him and tackled him, causing the second terrorist to self-detonate. Tonight, Adel and his daughter are no longer of this world, but both their legacy will live on for years, and the repercussions of their heroism will become a tale to tell: Adel is the reason we are not talking about fatalities in the three digits today, he is the reason some families still have their sons, daughters, fathers and mothers, he is a Lebanese hero whose name should be front and center in every single outlet.

Posted by: brian | Nov 13 2015 8:50 utc | 52

at the other end of the spectrum re lebanon bombing is this man:

US senate candidate' @SternEverett, who cheered on the bombing in Beirut

he might decide to delete some tweets later- so here's a snapshot summary of his TL

Posted by: brian | Nov 13 2015 8:51 utc | 53

I assume that the smart move now for Assad is to offer amnesty for any unicorn fighters who would have (nominally, anyway) owe their allegiance to the failed "govt in exile".

Assad has always offered full amnesty to anyone who gives up / changes sides (from the anti-Gvmt side.) In July 2015 he also offered amnesty to Syrian Army deserters / draft dodgers.

just two MSM top of goog

for more you have to dig.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 13 2015 8:58 utc | 54

Plane. Penelope at 45, Voltaire net post. Really the crux of the matter is if USuk via Israel states it was a bomb without any evidence except ‘chatter’ and social media - at a moment when no forensic evidence could have been collected and analysed, why on earth should one believe them? As I’ve always said, explosive residue is easy to test for, and a negative is definite, it is not like ruling out the presence of xyz bacteria, with other ‘unknows, unidentified’ possibly lurking.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 13 2015 9:10 utc | 55


Ladies and gentlemen, this is Carl Phillips again, at the Wilmuth farm, Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Professor Pierson and myself made the eleven miles from Princeton in ten minutes. Well, I . . . I hardly know where to begin, to paint for you a word picture of the strange scene before my eyes, like something out of a modern "Arabian Nights." Well, I just got here. I haven't had a chance to look around yet. I guess that's it. Yes, I guess that's the . . . thing, directly in front of me, half buried in a vast pit. Must have struck with terrific force. The ground is covered with splinters of a tree it must have struck on its way down. What I can see of the . . . object itself doesn't look very much like a meteor, at least not the meteors I've seen. It looks more like a huge cylinder. It has a diameter of . . . what would you say, Professor Pierson?

Of the creatures in the rocket cylinder at Grovers Mill, I can give you no authoritative information -- either as to their nature, their origin, or their purposes here on earth Of their destructive instrument I might venture some conjectural explanation. For want of a better term, I shall refer to the mysterious weapon as a heat ray. It's all too evident that these creatures have scientific knowledge far in advance of our own. It is my guess that in some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute nonconductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, much as the mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light. That is my conjecture of the origin of the heat ray.

So there you go, P, it's global warming after all.

Posted by: Chipnik | Nov 13 2015 9:32 utc | 56

The United States targeted British Islamic State leader "Jihadi John" in an air strike in northern Syria and evidence was growing on Friday that he was killed.

A U.S. official said Thursday's attack in the town of Raqqa probably killed Mohammed Emwazi, a British citizen who was nicknamed "Jihadi John" after appearing in videos showing the killings of American and British hostages.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said four foreign militants had been killed in U.S. air strikes.

"A car carrying four foreign Islamic State leaders, including one British Jihadi was hit by U.S. air strikes right after the governorate building in Raqqa city," Rami Abdulrahman, Director of the UK-based Observatory told Reuters.

Read more at Reuters

Posted by: okie farmer | Nov 13 2015 12:19 utc | 57

@56 - dead men tell no tales...

@52 That choade is running for the US Senate? Such an evil, heartless, blood-soaked mentality.... he a shoo in!

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 13 2015 12:36 utc | 58

@okie farmer@56

Okie, I think this is a crock...a boastful attempt to justify the f'ing Brits intervention in Syria. "Jihadi John" is/was a CIA/MI6/Mossad recruitment poster boy, designed and created to illustrate how naughty, cruel and "powerful" IS is/was, magnified by the MSM stenographers (thanks to Hoarsewhisperer for that one!), to show how Westerners flocked to support the takfiris, in order to recruit more useful idiots in the West. Targeting "Jihadi John" tells us how limited the Brits military objectives are in Syria, another "campaign" with the same US intentions of keeping IS/Ja'N intact, while pretending to fight them. "Jihadi John" is a clown of the US/UK/NATOstan created circus, killing him is part of the show, as it is fighting IS.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Nov 13 2015 13:36 utc | 59

Sputnik News carries a story denying S 400s are deployed in Syria.

Posted by: sarz | Nov 13 2015 14:10 utc | 60


Any attempt to establish a no-fly zone will have to confront the Russian air force, not something that anyone other than U.S. presidential aspirants are eager to do.

We have some hierarchy of idiocy: run-of-the-mill idiots, Saudi princes, US presidential aspirants -- especially the "serious ones".

As an aside, the Counterpunch article exaggerates Saudi idocy. For example, it is patently false that KSA (and the same was said about Russia elsewhere) needs oil price about 100/bbl to balance the budget. This is for budget that is including a quick build up of financial reserves. the "net budget" is much lower, and includes unnecessary projects. Second, any attempt to remove from the market high cost producers, like Canadian tar oil and American shale oil has to last few years. The kingdom does have competent oil economists. Extraction projects have time horizon of at least 10 years, if not decades, and few months of low prices do not change the balance sheet too badly, but few years of losses will make financing new projects distinctly unpopular among the money people. That said, unlike Russia and Iran, KSA seems to have very little of non-oil economy, and indeed, it is burning the reserves much faster.

However, the more princely tasks of international strategy and military planning are indeed in the hands of morons -- aping the West, aren't we? That said, USA does have a share of well trained soldiers and officers, while KSA seems badly behind UAE in that respect, and this is a low bar. When USA engages in a stupid war, it runs it better AND far from its borders. War in Yemen goes on so badly for KSA that it actually helps: in a more "optimistic" scenario, at this time they should worry about the occupying forces being beset by guerrilla attacks, but they are very far from that, which actually decreases their losses. However, the failure may cost them dearly and the current precarious situation makes them vulnerable to Russia.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 13 2015 14:37 utc | 61

The Russian intervention has shown how weakly the US was conducting the war on ISIS. The probable reason is the presence of the Saudis and the Qataris in the coalition who prevented the US to attack anyone who was a fighter against Bashar Al Assad. The Gulf countries have left the coalition and are busy trying to get out of the Yemen quagmire.( I can't help thinking that the USA has deliberately pushed SA and Qatar in the Yemen trap, from which they will come out emasculated and more obedient to their masters)
The Russians had no such scrupules, they bombed anyone who was attacking the legitimate Syrian army. They probably enjoyed bombing the 'sacro-saints' moderates terrorists militias funded by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Suddenly the USA felt freer to do the same. The Kurds and the Iraqi army mostly composed of Shias are taking on the Sunnis extremists in Iraq. The USA will move on to Raqqa soon.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are in a state of panic. Erdogan calling again and again for the safe zone that would "save" his militias in the North, threatening the Syrian Kurds and stupidly talking about a ground invasion.
The killing in Beirut against the Shias is one of the Saudi ways to show that it has a role to play in the region, the coward murderer.
Saudi Arabia is repeating at nausea that they don't want any role for Bashar al Assad in the future of Syria.
All points to a deep desperation and the bitter realization that Bashar al Assad is winning and that they are the ones who will have no role in the future of Syria.

Posted by: virgile | Nov 13 2015 15:54 utc | 62

@51 brian.. thanks for sharing that story on Adel Termos.. a real hero indeed.. the exact opposite of the sick nutjobs from wahabbi land..

Posted by: james | Nov 13 2015 16:35 utc | 63

Moderate rebels seem in full retreat south of Aleppo, the government offensive is accelerating in the last 48 hours, they had to concede a lot of territory and a key highway. I would guess that the supply of TOWs in that area run out, rebel also complain about "scorched earth" tactics. Almost every hour reports new locations under the government control, and the number of miles covered is quite large -- not blitzkrieg yet, but this is not WWI anymore.

I guess we need to wait few days before predicting what next.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 13 2015 16:45 utc | 64

James: on the matter of Moon writing in English and English not being his first language.

You specifically ask how one factors in the fact that a given writer might be not be working in his/her first language. Well, first one should be tolerant and forgiving. However, if the writing is incomprehensible you will not be able to understand it no matter how tolerant or forgiving you are. A second thing one might do – especially in a case where the writer in question is normally clear but sometimes lapses into incomprehensibility – is to alert the writer when this happens. In the case of Moon of Alabama – a special case because in my opinion MofA readers as a group are the most alert and informed readers of any website I ever visit – I think all readers should take it upon themselves to alert Moon of any case in which he/she crosses the linguistic red line of intelligibility.
Some would probably suggest that Moon find an editor (for example, a retired English professor like me) to read his posts before they are put up and correct any lapses. However, I know from experience that this is time-consuming and cumbersome and if it were implemented we would lose one of the most prized virtues of Moon of Alabama – the promptness of its response to important developments.
I think this is a time for readers of all lands to unite to try to make Moon of Alabama as good as it could possibly be. We have nothing to lose but our ideological shackles.

Posted by: Roger Milbrandt | Nov 13 2015 17:03 utc | 65

One could also speculate from unclear English what the German is for what b was trying to say.

Posted by: lysias | Nov 13 2015 17:19 utc | 66

Syria. There is *that thing* about mercenaries.

When they aren’t paid they move off, over, elsewhere, or go home. When they aren’t performing they aren’t paid. When an exhileratin’ and dangerous arrangement which is nevertheless a cosy system, is disrupted, the forces can’t handle it well or possibly at all. They need not only arms and ammunition, deliveries, and all the maintenance and energy input that goes along with that, control (transport routes), but to eat, smoke, sleep, dress, and possibly drug, everyday. (They take over local communities, ok ok.) Plus some org. for the wounded, etc. Sure some suicidal djihadis exist, yet overall 90% of ppl are not psychotic, and don’t aim to die for lost causes to join virgins in heaven.

Idk what Russia is doing about the supply lines (Turkey etc.), but that is a key point.

What does support from the US .. KSA to whatever entity (say, to take two powerful countries) amount to? On the ground? Not in money terms, money is a lousy measure. Sincere question.

Leading from behind ... bwaahhh.

In 2-5 months Russia, Iran, the Hezb, will defeat IS (al q, daesh, the whole lot, etc.) and there will be many international meets and jockeying etc. Some face saving ‘political’ solution will be agreed on. And then the competition for re-building contracts, energy routes, etc. will take off.

—- Barring accidents that will lead to WW3.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 13 2015 18:00 utc | 67

@66 "Barring accidents that will lead to WW3."

A somewhat ambiguous sentence Noirette. Perhaps Roger will help you rephrase it.

Posted by: dh | Nov 13 2015 18:08 utc | 68

SAA on the roll, just today they liberated 6 more villages, ICARDA Military Base, several important hilltops, and rolled out to M-5 highway.

It seems "moderate" jihadis got their backbone broken in South Alepo, finally. ISIS also not doing so well, after losing fight for Kuweiris base, they are also conceding territory at rapid pace.

Posted by: Harry | Nov 13 2015 18:15 utc | 69

Re: my comment @10

Sinjar was liberated earlier today. I was wondering what would happen when the PKK and Rojava/Yazidi militias met the KRG Peshmerga in town. Well, wonder no more. Barazani simply denied they were part of the operation in this tweet:

KRP Massoud Barzani: As you can see, no force other than the Peshmerga has participated in our operation to liberate #Shingal.

An interesting observation as he fashions himself Sinjar's savior, but this is pretty much a repeat of how he played Kobane: Do nothing while the people are slaughtered and the town is overrun, then (and only then) call in American airstrikes and send the Peshmerga to liberate the town. He seems to care less about the Yazidi people themselves than planting 'his' KRG flag over their dead bodies:
KRP Massoud Barzani: Aside from the flag of Kurdistan (ala Rangin) we will not allow any other flag in #Shingal.

He was never a big fan of the YPG/YPJ and treats the PKK like his mortal enemy. Typical psychopath - he's not terribly interested in the welfare of 'his' people. He is only interested in expanding Kurdish territory, seeking total control of all Kurds (and their money), ethnically cleansing Kurdistan and controlling as many oil wells in Syria and Iraq as possible when the smoke clears. Oh, and having his clan become as wealthy and powerful as possible while the rest of the Kurds starve.

It is disturbing to say the least how the U.S. sat back while Kobane and Sinjar were overrun, offering nothing except a token bombing here or there while the YPG/YPJ, Yazidis and PKK begged for air support. Yet the U.S. seems plenty effective when their puppet Barazani gets around to sending in 'federal troops' (=Peshmerga) to claim more territory for the KRG. I have to say, this looks like how the U.S. 'assisted' Saddam Hussein when Iraq was at war with Iran. The U.S. seems adept at grooming psychopathic tyrants they'll have to overthrow a decade or two later. For whatever Barazani's contributions WERE to Kurdistan, he's a psychopath and an enemy of the Kurds today.

I don't mean to besmirch the reputation of the Peshmerga, themselves. It's their president-for-life Barazani and the KDP land-stealing mafia I have a problem with. They can only be pushed so far in forcing Barazani's KDPized, mafia-run Kurdistan on the Kurds.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 13 2015 18:25 utc | 70

It is high time for Egypt to stop relying on foul and taamiyya only!

Posted by: Mina | Nov 13 2015 19:31 utc | 71

A little historical anecdote about mercenaries. On the lands of Prussians and western Pomerania, Teutonic Order have build a state, and a mighty castle, Marienburg, as the seat of the government. This castle was never conquered by arms (even in 17th century!). But Polish kingdom had a lengthy war with the Order in 15th century about the disputed western Pomerania, and the order had to hire mercenary infantry from Bohemia, while their revenue went down. Being behind payments, the order put Marienburg as the collateral, and after missing more payments, Polish king paid the debt and the mercenaries performed repossession.

But this was a proper mercenary company: when paid, they delivered, and when not paid ... (even better is the history of mercenary Black Army of Hungary, how they performed when paid, and how when unpaid).

By the way of contrast, FSA was never more than a label used by independent local units, most so small that they seem to be village level brigands. They had neither an energetic paymaster nor coherent ideology allowing to unite etc. And Islamist movement had both.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 13 2015 19:55 utc | 72

dh at 68 :) ;)

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 13 2015 20:40 utc | 73

Peter, Did you read the Voltaire link @ 45? Egyptian newspaper carries declaration of investigating team that there was no explosive trace found. This is buttressed by detailing the specialized detector. Valentin then describes the actual movements of the plane-- which obviously exceed its structural strengths:

"First of all, we note a 3-second descent, with a loss of altitude of 150 metres, which led to a negative overload of 2 G. This manœuvre is too sudden, producing an « air-pocket » sensation, to have been commanded by the flight crew.

"The second command was the aircraft’s recovery, climbing 800 metres in 2 - 3 seconds, causing positive overloads of between 5 and 6 G, values which only exist for fighter aircraft in close combat

"The third command consisted of switching from a 40° to 50° climb to a dive of 20° to 30°, with a negative overload of 4 G, and it is impossible for this manœuvre to have been executed by the crew of a passenger aeroplane, because everybody loses consciousness,"

The last airbus that went down, excepting the German "suicide pilot", was AirAsia's on Dec 28th. The plane inexplicably climbed at an angle & speed exceeding what the plane's programming would have permitted, even if the pilot were so crazy-- then of course it crashed in the sea. The accepted cause for the crash was the severe storm which was occurring, and it's possible that the storm might have thrown the plane up like that. But there was unsatisfied controversy about it at the time, especially in the Australian press, where stunning details were presented.

Well, I certainly don't insist on any one interpretation. Thank you for the data on the crash debris. Are you indicating the weight of the evidence indicates structural failure of the tail? Because the movements described by the voltaire link and Flightradar video would certainly have helped along any structural weakness. I am taking as a second source the statement from Flightradar video that there were changes in "up & down" speed. But perhaps this was just a vagary of a person for whom English is not his mother language.

As Noirette points out, comments by the US/UK govts are suspicious. Their insistence that ISIS is the guilty party seems intended to placate the public and a rather frenetic attempt to distract from other possibilities.

Posted by: Penelope | Nov 13 2015 20:42 utc | 74

Guest77 @ 36,

Inspired comment. Thanks. & @ 39, too. You're really witty today.

Posted by: Penelope | Nov 13 2015 20:44 utc | 75
Alive and kicking Escobar!
If true, the Ottoman contractions are more than worrying. 1917 again?

Posted by: Mina | Nov 13 2015 20:45 utc | 76

@65 Roger Milbrandt.. thanks. i understand what you're saying.. i think your idea would require more staff.. i don't believe b is in a position or interested in hiring staff.. as a non-conformist myself, i don't see it as an issue.. i understand what he's saying, but maybe my active imagination helps in combination with a less rigid attitude towards written english mistakes... maybe i'm just fooling myself.. either way, i think we're getting off topic!

Posted by: james | Nov 13 2015 21:41 utc | 77

@76 - thanks mina..

Posted by: james | Nov 13 2015 21:46 utc | 78


The most intriguing thing about the battle for Sinjar is that there was no real battle, when the Peshmerga entered the town there was little resistance and the IS forces were mostly gone, if there were ever many there.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Nov 13 2015 21:52 utc | 79

Wayoutwest @79

If true, this would be a fine example of what I call "Grenada principle": the best way to win is to find an easy place to win. Check "Operation Urgent Fury".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 13 2015 22:43 utc | 80

WoW seems correct. "Daily Beast" claims that it had an "embedded reporter" who witnessed the non--battle, and quoted Peshmerga general Zaim Ali: “There is not a big ISIS resistance,” he said. “We just blew up three ISIS car bombs, one with a MILAN rocket and the other two were taken out with airstrikes.”

Ali added that the battle was originally delayed because of the weather, but now the main problems were dealing with IEDs. A radio in the background crackled with news of more explosives being detonated.


There article also reports that about 100 ISIS bodies were posted on social media as casualties, so perhaps there was some battle there. Warfare in a desert is different. To site Wikipedia, "For exhausted travelers in the desert, an inferior mirage may appear to be a lake of water in the distance."

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 13 2015 23:08 utc | 81

Map regularly updated. Recommended to block notifications.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Nov 14 2015 0:02 utc | 82

oh geez.. fighting has been going on for a long time in and around sinjar, but if the west and israel want to frame the last episode as a win because isis walked away or whatever - fine.. folks need to explore alternative viewpoints like this to consider all the news and or propaganda out their to choose from..

Posted by: james | Nov 14 2015 0:04 utc | 83

@75 Come on now Penelope, I'm not above being flattered you know ;)

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 14 2015 0:37 utc | 84

@65 RM

Hey, Rog ... since you don't understand the post, and have nothing to say of interest to anyone else ... you could just not bother to come here, right? Or ... you're a troll whose 'greenfield' tactic is to bite the hand that feeds us all in an effort to get a rise out of the rest of us? OK. It worked. One time. Bye bye.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 14 2015 1:47 utc | 85

A sort of a public service announcement on that Russian T-90 in Syria.

If you click on the link, the caption says (in Russian) - "T-90 guarding the Khmeimim [sp.] airbase". At least one of the commenters however suggests this is a T-72BA rather than a T-90. The two model use the same chassis (a T-90 is basically a modernized T-72) and the shot is in profile (easier to tell them apart from "en face"). So either or.

Of course, it is difficult to treat a Twitter photo as 100.0% authentic. Nevertheless, it was known from the start that the Russians will have some battalion-sized grouping of ground forces attached to their air contingent for base security purposes, and yes, this might ultimately grow to brigade-size and will include some amount of heavy weapons such as tank.

Whether these weapons will ever be utilized outside of Russian-controlled areas, of course, is a different matter. Politically this appears to have been ruled out for the moment.

Separately but importantly - note the comment to the tank photo where the soldier's face is "unmasked". The text reads "Wasted your time trying to smudge up his snout. We've already figured out who he is and dropped the info about him and his family to the Syrians." What this refers to is that after Russia went into Syria, a number of Ukrainian right-wingers and their affiliated sites began a sort of a public campaign to give any personal information (names, etc.) on Russian soldiers serving in Syria to "the Syrians" (including ISIS/Daesh, stated explicitly) in order to, err, facilitate reprisals against said Russian soldiers (and, apparently, their families). Somehow this fits under the whole "fighting against the evil Russians who are responsible for all evils everywhere" rubric. The point is that this campaign is a thing, at least in social media, and Twitter comments like this, shall we say, occur very frequently (and are apparently not at all in violation of Twitter's policies, but whatever).

Posted by: Angry Panda | Nov 14 2015 16:55 utc | 86

At the moment, it seems that most astonishing maps of the government progress south of Aleppo were a bit futuristic, but the temporary mapping consensus is impressive enough. As far as I can figure out, the progress on a front in Syria requires copious cover by artillery, and a dash forward, but artillery can cover the attackers for less than a minute. Air support is not better. And after a while, another dash. Pedestrians cannot go to far in that manner, and vehicles can be strived with missiles -- if defenders have missiles. This is partially a speculation, but the bottom line is that quick progress is possible only if there is an incredible concentration of artillery/air support, and there is just not enough helicopters, planes, howitzers etc. for that, or if the opponent runs out of missiles.

So at the end, I guess the rebels moved some TOWs from a less active front, like Aleppo city, while the government side started to be low of ammunition, and the latest gains, north of ICARDA, were not sustained. After some truck convoys will bring another 1000 tons of supplies, there can be another offensive. Rebels are far from collapse, but if the government side succeeds in two more offensives on that scale, Idlib mini-state of the Army of Conquest will be in bad shape. My guess is that one priority is to connect to Shia villages under siege, and located just west of Idlib. A relief to those villages is probably an emotional cause for Shia volunteers that form a large part of the offensive. The second goal would be connecting to a similar pair of villages next to Afrin canton. Combined, it would put rebels in Aleppo under siege, with only very tenuous supply route from Turkey. A third offensive would cut Idlib mini-state into three pieces.

Rebels are not exactly down yet. They had an offensive of their own on the southern boundary of Idlib, and they managed to make a counter-attack I have mentioned. We can only speculate to what extend their logistics are compromised by air attacks. The most dire news for the rebels are that Syria+Russia+Iran put their act together and they can bring more resources to the battle. I suspect that Russia increases slowly their air force and that Iran will bring yet more men, at which point both rebels and ISIS may start to collapse.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 15 2015 3:28 utc | 87

Update on the Queires Airbase and Al-Hadher-M5 (south of Aleppo) fronts as of 11/19

SAA has launched drives to the west along Highway 4 from Quieres towards Gibb Al-Safa and east-southeast towards Al Jaboul Lake. The westward drive penetrated about 8-10 km and flank clearing is underway to the north and south. Control of the chemical plant (refinery?) SYSACCO has been contested for a couple of days and SAA is being supported by Russian airstrikes. The east-southeast drive has captured a major junction and the villages Tel Ayoub, Umm Zilayla, and Umm Al-Marra within the last couple of days. Progress to the southeast appears to be rapid and any ISIS forces in the vicinity of Qutbiyah to the west face the prospect of being cut off once SAA closes the remaining 5 km or so to Jaboul Lake.

West of Al-Hadher, territory extending about 6-8 km east of Highway M5 previously shown under SAA control is now shown as contested, with Al Qaeda still in control of the villages Banes and Tal-Hadya. North of Al-Hadher SAA has pushed Al Qaeda about 6 km westward, leaving a 2 x 6 km salient of Al Qaeda to the north. M5 is important to both Al Qaeda's position west of Aleppo and to any SAA efforts to relieve besieged towns near Idlib, so it can be expected to be hotly contested.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Nov 19 2015 21:25 utc | 88

Update (again)

The territory between Al-Hadher and M5 that was previously shown as contested is now shown as under Al Qaeda control.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Nov 20 2015 5:54 utc | 89

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