Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 15, 2016

The "Race To Raqqa" - A Syrian Campaign Plan

There is today a lot of indignation in "western" media over the Russian air campaign in Syria. One, two, three, ... hospitals were bombed!. And schools! An the rebels lost more villages! Barrel bombs! Cluster bombs! One must ask how many of these "hospitals" were really hospitals and not just quarters for Jihadi "rebels". From the videos that were published I could identify only one destroyed building that might have been a real hospital. But ever there no medical equipment was visible in the debris. Could this probably arranged media assault be the preparation for some new false flag stunt or some other planned escalation?

Hardly any mentions was made today about continued Turkish shelling of Kurdish towns in Syria. As soon as the Syrian artillery will be near the border, in a week or so, such shelling will be answered and the situation will then escalate very fast.

The Russian promised that the The “Gates of hell” will be open in the coming months in Syria. The current massive Russian bombing is the beginning of that campaign. "Rebels" running away from a town due to bombing are not able to kill the Syrian soldiers that then enter that town. Houses and infrastructure can be rebuild but dead soldiers can not be resurrected. That is the simple rule that now guides the Syrian government campaigns. There are no hints yet of how exactly the liberation of Aleppo province, rebel held parts of Aleppo city and in Idleb will proceed. There is a bigger campaign plan behind it but it is not yet visible.

Visible though is the Syrian plan of the Race to Raqqa against the Islamic State.

map via The 'Nimr' Tiger - bigger

From the south west a brigade sized force of the Syrian army (red), soon to be reinforced by volunteer units, is pushing north-east towards Tabqa airbase which lies south of Route 4 and the city of Al Tawra. Both are held by the Islamic State (grey). The troops are now some 15 kilometers away from the base. Should the Syrian army take the base it would achieve firecontrol over Route 4 from Turkey via Al Bab to Raqqa and could stop most Islamic State traffic on that road. Should the army take Al Taqra city it could also capture the Taqwa dam of the Assad barrier lake. Then all Islamic State forces west of the Euphrates would be completely cut of from Raqqa and Iraq. They could be further split up by Syrian army forces coming from Aleppo going east and in the north by Kurdish forces (yellow) going west . The Islamic State would lose a lot of terrain in that move and, much more important, its sole open access route to Turkey. The difficult attack on Raqqa city itself, some 15 kilometers further east, would only come after the Tabqa base and Al Tawra are taken.

But few military plans survive the contact with the enemy and there are other forces that would like to get their hands on Raqqa before the Syrian army reaches it

Last week the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim visited the Turkish President Erdogan in Istanbul. Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar have declared that they would join the announced Saudi ground campaign against the Islamic State should the U.S. take the command and lead. Saudi fighter jets are said to have landed in Incirlik airbase (not verified). A Kuwaiti air transport plane landed in Hatay today, allegedly filled with weapons. The Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu is visiting Ukraine with a large delegation. Is there some coordination ongoing? A diversion in Ukraine to keep the Russians busy in Ukraine while an Turkish/Gulf Arab attack is launched on Syria? Or vice versa?

While the situation for the Syrian government and its allies looks much better now than six month ago, the war on Syria is far from over. It may well expand and escalate further before an end is in sight.

Posted by b on February 15, 2016 at 18:56 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Anyone care to discuss the possibility that the forces gathered for the Saudi "Northern Thunder" could be used as a "coalition" invasion force into Syria?

Posted by: Perimetr | Feb 15 2016 19:08 utc | 1

Hope war expands all the way to Saudi Arabia with Putin "persuading" what's left of ISIS to overthrow the House of Saud dogs.....wonder what POTUS Trump will do?

Posted by: Steve | Feb 15 2016 19:15 utc | 2

The Saudi Air force is coming: After Yemen, MSF hospitals bombed in Syria.

Posted by: virgile | Feb 15 2016 19:35 utc | 3

I think this will be turkey's attempt to kill Russians in response to Russia's campaign which is allegedly killing turks in northern syria. "See we can kill your ethnic people too." Erdfucko will seek to have the Ukraine army kill russians to stop the Russian military near Turkey's syria border.

Erdogan if fucking crazy. He has to be removed and preferably executed.

Posted by: alaric | Feb 15 2016 19:37 utc | 4

The most recognisable hospital destroyer lately, is the US terrorist military. The US should be candidate number one for suspicion with these possible hospital bombings in Syria.
And the war propagandist MSF, declared they don't know who did it, but they know it was either Russia or Syria! And this fuck wit said that illogical bullshit with a straight face.
I personally wouldn't put it past the Syrian goverment since their record is shitty.

Ever since the propaganda piece about prisoner extermination under the Syrian government you knew that the media BS onslaught for western criminal invasion was on. This hospital story is part of that propaganda onslaught.
It's obvious the media is so in on the coordinator propaganda campaign and share criminality with Western State terrorists.

Posted by: tom | Feb 15 2016 19:48 utc | 5

Erdogan/KSA/Qatar led from behind by the mastermind US/CIA have all along cultivated the seeds of terror and chaos and will put 'the gates of hell' into practice, I concur.

Every day passes by some 'false flag' operations (which has been, as expected, claimed by Wahhabi/Neo-Ottoman Erdogan-Davutoglu duo) more chances the team Chaos would get what they want at this point (quasi regional war) and further instability spreading further into veins of TR/KSA/Qatar.

The US wanted chaos from the get go and squeezing Russia from Ukraine-Syria sans China has always been preferred method of getting rid of 'Putin' via economical (crude oil/gas/mineral) and military angles.
Let's see how Putin would respond into further escalation by team Chaos.

Posted by: Truist | Feb 15 2016 20:01 utc | 6

Syrian army advances into Raqqa province – captured strategically important Tal Masbah hilltop | RT |

Syrian government forces and Palestinian armed militia captured the strategically important Tal Masbah hilltop
, the last entrenched Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL) position.

The fortified position guarded approaches to the Salamiyah-Raqqa highway, leading to the terror group’s stronghold in the city of Raqqa, Al-Masdar news outlet reported, citing a military source.

Later that day, the Syrian government army launched a massive assault on the village of Zakiyah and seized an important crossroads near the village, cutting IS’s major supply route from Raqqa to nearby Hama province.

Posted by: Oui | Feb 15 2016 20:13 utc | 7

@1 Perimetr

I suggest you look closely at maps of that region since there are no roads or even decent tracks through the desert there for an assault in a straight-line direction. Iraq has said it will fight any attempt by the Saudis to cross their territory which contains the only possible road net. Otherwise, it's a long trip through Jordan and Syria to get to Raqqa. And unless local air superiority can be established, the Saudi armor will look just like the Iraqi's did at the end of Gulf War 1's "Highway of Death."

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 15 2016 20:15 utc | 8

Military maneuver planned in Saudi Arabia | Iranian PressTV |

    Saudi media said some 350,000 forces from the Persian Gulf Arab states and a number of other countries will take part in the Saudi-led military maneuver in the area of Hafer al-Batin in northern Saudi Arabia.

    Some 2,540 warplanes, 20,000 tanks and 460 helicopters will also participate in the exercise, dubbed "Northern Thunder.” In 18 days of maneuvers, the airspace over northern Saudi Arabia will be closed.

    Media reports say the maneuver will be the largest throughout the history of the region. Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Persian Gulf Arab states are among the 25 countries that will take part in the military exercises.

    The maneuver comes at a sensitive time after Saudi Arabia announced readiness to participate in any ground incursion in Syria if the US-led coalition decides to start such an operation.

Iraqi Shiite Militia Groups Warn Saudi Arabia Against Drills Near Border

Posted by: Oui | Feb 15 2016 20:17 utc | 9

The horrible Mrs Merkel getting desperate to save her ISIS-saudi puppets, advocating no fly zone in Syria!
Seriously? Does this woman seek confrontation between Nato, that is Germany incl. and Russia?!

What the heck have become of this world? Lunatics!

Posted by: Trombol | Feb 15 2016 20:21 utc | 10

Possible good cop bad cop game going on to motivate jihadists to stay in Syria as opposed to leaving and avenging those who "betrayed them".

In the field they're thinking now that Turkey, the Saudis and their "American friends" are about to save the day. That keeps them in positions that get surrounded instead of running into Turkey and planning more terror.

Just a theory.

Posted by: Jake | Feb 15 2016 20:26 utc | 11

It also keeps sleeper terror cells quiet around the world as they assume the west is on their side. They've also probably been told that Trump would win if there is another attack so "it's best to lay low. "

Posted by: Jake | Feb 15 2016 20:30 utc | 13

Is there some coordination ongoing? A diversion in Ukraine to keep the Russians busy in Ukraine while an Turkish/Gulf Arab attack is launched on Syria? Or vice versa

A coalition of desperate leaders- what could go wrong?

turkey hopes poroshenko will join a high level strategic council meeting

Posted by: Nana2007 | Feb 15 2016 20:41 utc | 14

North Thunder military exercises begin in Saudi Arabia | Gulf News |

The official Twitter account for North Thunder said the exercises were being held at King Khalid Military City in Hafr Al Batin from February 14 until March 10.

“A military exercise will be commanded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the participation of 20 countries and the Peninsula Shield force as well,” the account said. “The main objective is to demonstrate the high combat readiness of the participating armed forces and their readiness and ability to function successfully in joint operations,” the account said.

Posted by: Oui | Feb 15 2016 20:43 utc | 15

Any aggression against Syria must be led by the US said the Saudi Foreign Minister. In my opinion the US will not lead. OBama does not want a confrontation with Russia in Syria. Kerry did tell opposition supporters a few days ago "You want us to go to war with Russia!!!" I would not be surprised if he uttered under his breath you must be effin mad, after after that statement. Putin is deadly serious, this is what the Moscow Times reported on Putins meeting with the Turkish Ambassador "..then tell your dictator president he can go to hell along with his ISIS terrorist and I shall make Syria to nothing but a 'Big Stalingrad' , for Erdoğan and his Saudi allies are no vicious than Adolf Hitler," replied Vladimir Putin in the 2-hour closed door meeting with Turkish emissary.,-i-will-make-syria-a-big-stalingrad-for-him In my opinion the Saudi/Turkish threat is just frustration at what they perceive as US spinelessness.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 15 2016 20:47 utc | 16


Just adds more evidence how naive Iran have been now standing effectively without possible nukes against these ISIS supporting sunni states that are eager to bomb shiites to death.

Posted by: Trombol | Feb 15 2016 20:49 utc | 17

That "Northern Thunder" operation is no less than the prelude to an invasion of Syria under the pretext to fight Isis.

First, you got the Gulf countries ready to join the Saudis "should the U.S. takes the command and leads" as b said.

Second, you have that massive gathering of "sunni" countries participating in the "exercise" (btw how comes the MSM never mention that?).

Third, you have pratically all Nato countries announcing their will to fight against Isis and to send help (Poland the latest: The call for a no fly zone by Merkhel today is not a coincidence either.

Four, you have Nato presence right at the Russian border, plus that naval operation in the Egean Sea supposedly to control "refugee traffic".

No wonder the SAA is rushing to take Raqqa before it's too late, 'cause when you'll get all GCC + Nato countries invading the Eastern Syria, they'll be overwhelmed and the Russians too. How Russia will respond to an invasion that mighty? It's anyone guess.

But there's clearly a war party within Nato that got the momentum and who couldn't care less about diplomacy. They want to punish Russia for meddling in their business. WWIII here we come!

Posted by: jeanv | Feb 15 2016 20:54 utc | 18

"Just adds more evidence how naive Iran have been now standing effectively without possible nukes"

Indeed Iran does not posses nuc'lur weapons. But what Iran along with Syria do have is a mutual defense pact with Russia. An attack on one is an attack on all.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 15 2016 21:10 utc | 19

@jeanv | Feb 15, 2016 3:54:47 PM

The Russians and Iranians will have to respond. This is an existential threat. This is the war that the neocons and R2Pers have longed for, the disaster they have been building toward since this all started with the invasion of Iraq. It is a death cult.

Posted by: chuckvw | Feb 15 2016 21:16 utc | 20

A Tu-214R AWACS aircraft has flown from its base in Russia to Latakia. It made some odd movements over the Caspian and a big dogleg around Baghdad. I guess the Russians don't want to be caught out by any surprise moves from the Turko-Saudi forces.

Posted by: Anon E Mouse | Feb 15 2016 21:27 utc | 21

BBC reporting schools and hospitals being struck by Syria/Russia so apparently the U$ west coalition of the well paid is getting its collective arses kicked.

I can find no up to the minute unbiased reporting as to what is really happening on the ground.

Blut und Stahl - Same as it ever was

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 15 2016 21:39 utc | 22

About the "hospitals"... I happened to listen to a radio show featuring a spokewoman of Medecins sans Frontiere (MSF) earlier today. She explained that there's no MSF personal in the hospital that was shelled. She said it was too dangerous for foreigners to be there, so instead they keep contact with "a hundred" of Syrian's "hospitals" that give them accounts of what is going on (ahem!).

On the same program, the correspondent happened to be at Kilis, just on the other side of the border heading to Azaz. So she has seen in the first place the injured brought to the turkish hospital. What a coincidence!!!

At the end of the same show, the radio host asked a University Professor: "Why Russia is deliberately targeting civilians?" At least the professor answered that it was nonsense.

Posted by: jeanv | Feb 15 2016 21:43 utc | 23

Ok, may be I'm going color blind but I don't get the map.

If SAA is red, who is green? And what color is al-Nusra et al. terrorists?

Posted by: Denis | Feb 15 2016 21:58 utc | 24

Anyway, who do these hospitals help? rebels aka terrorists?

Posted by: Trombol | Feb 15 2016 22:08 utc | 25

@24 I think the green is supposed to represent the 'rebels'. It's hard to be more precise because they keep running around so much.

Posted by: dh | Feb 15 2016 22:10 utc | 26

Yellow: YPG Kurds
Green: "moderate" headchoppers (al-Qaeda and al.)
Grey: ISIS
Red: Syrian govt

Posted by: jeanv | Feb 15 2016 22:22 utc | 27

Just to clarify. Syrian Rebels moderate or extremists ARE NOT UNDER GENEVA CONVENTION PROTECTION even if they run hiospitals especially if they are officially unmarked and undeclared to UN. A place where doctors operating on soldiers or civilians is not a hospital legally anyway unless is clearly marked by huge cross on the roof and in adjacent ares and openly declared to UN. Why all those moderate Rebels did not provide hospitals coordinates to Russians or Syrians or publish them? This is all BS propaganda, although it is impossible that Russians did not kill one civilian, and they should be giving their assessments of civilians casualties. Assad has implanted among terrorists many spies so he knows what's going on, that' why Russians are so effective in bombing campaign.
For those who are shocked by Merkel incoherent utterances about no-fly zone, below is a piece that reveals true face of EU serfdom under US imperial power for last seven decades.

Posted by: Kalen | Feb 15 2016 22:26 utc | 28

Those poor poor people of Syria. At least what's left of them. Now it will become a playground for the rich and famous? There's enough a**holery for all!

Posted by: CRMH | Feb 15 2016 22:35 utc | 29

in response to karlof1 | Feb 15, 2016 3:15:18 PM | 8

Thank you for your reply. I wasn't clear on the precise location of the exercise, but I see you are correct about the need for the Saudi force to cross Iraq, which explains the protests now coming from Iraq. I was interested in logistics, too, since it is always a problem to supply an army in the field.

I have also seen a report from an UK based Islamic website that a spokesman for the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (Shiite militia, forces numbering 100,000) is warning the Saudis that they will make Iraq their graveyard if they attack. see

The same story says that the forces in Northern Thunder number 350,000 with 20,000 tanks . . .which I think is a gross exaggeration, since the Saudis are said to have a total of 1200 tanks in their armed forces.

However, it does seem more than a coincidence that all this is going on now. At the beginning of this thread (a few days ago) it was suggested that the 101st Airborne was going to lead the Saudis in an attack . . . I still would like to hear more about that.

Posted by: Perimetr | Feb 15 2016 22:52 utc | 30

Please take a look at this map, and note where the military exercises are to be held at King Khalid Military City, which is down by Kuwait. Then look at the legend and note that it's well over 600 miles in a straight line to Raqqa. That's a very long distance to move the participants and their equipment without being noticed. Plus, the planning for the training op was done well before the arise of current circumstances, not as a response to them.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 15 2016 23:00 utc | 31

@30 "However, it does seem more than a coincidence that all this is going on now. At the beginning of this thread (a few days ago) it was suggested that the 101st Airborne was going to lead the Saudis in an attack . . . I still would like to hear more about that."

You aren't the only one. The whole world is waiting to see what the US does. One thing you can be sure of...the Saudis won't go in without them.

Posted by: dh | Feb 15 2016 23:01 utc | 32

From my earlier post ...

Secr. Ashton Carter: Lasting defeat of ISIL depends on coalition strength

WASHINGTON, (Jan. 13, 2016) -- Delivering a lasting defeat to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, must be a global effort, and coalition partners and others must step up their contributions to the escalating fight, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today on Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Such a lasting defeat also must be achieved and sustained by motivated and capable local forces, the secretary said, and reach beyond the military campaign to enable political stability in the region.

Carter's stop on Fort Campbell to address Soldiers assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's headquarters and 2nd Brigade Combat Team, who will deploy to Iraq later this year, is part of a two-day trip this week to three military bases.


During his speech, the defense secretary said the lasting defeat of ISIL must be a global undertaking because the terror group is a global threat.

"Any nation that cares about the safety of its people or the future of its civilization must know this: America will continue to lead the fight, but there can be no free riders," Carter added.

As the United States invests in accelerating the campaign, he said, so must every coalition partner and every nation in a position to help.

"That means greater military contributions but it also means greater diplomatic, political and economic engagement. It means development and reconstruction [and] … actions at home and abroad to disrupt, dismantle and degrade ISIL's capabilities. It means stepping up," the secretary said.

Carter said he has personally reached out to defense ministers in more than 40 countries seeking more special operations forces, strike and reconnaissance aircraft, weapons and munitions, training assistance and combat and combat service support.

"Many nations are already contributing greatly," he said. "Many can do more."

Map: Counter-ISIL Coalition Campaign – Destroy the parent tumor in Syria and Iraq by collapsing ISIL control over Raqqah and Mosul

Posted by: Oui | Feb 15 2016 23:19 utc | 33

Here we have a major dissing of the Saudi armed forces that's somewhat amusing, but lacks 100% credibility due to its several falsehoods. Yet, it does serve as a bit of Comic Relief,

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 15 2016 23:20 utc | 34

VT great video explanation with maps about what is most likely going on in Syria/Turkey ...

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 15 2016 23:25 utc | 35


Impossible to say, these events could be planned long time ago you know.

Posted by: cz. | Feb 15 2016 23:29 utc | 36

It seems that thing are crazy in the short-lived Wikimapia entity "Azaz-Mare-Rifaat pocket" that Erdogan tries to defend. YPG took Rifaat and they proceed full speed eastward. Twit: Breaking #SDF liberate KAFIR NASIH, negotiations still on going to hand over Mare #tiwtterkurds #Syria

I suspect that good folks of Afrin have their hands full, so probably their comrades in Cizire/Hasakah are furiously updating the border of the pocket in Wikimapia. Previously it was reported that Afrin has 5000 troops, they also have Arab allied militia so the combo is called "Syrian Democratic Forces", and they are assisted by the Russians, but I suspect that Afrin mobilized reserves and got much more weapons from Russians and Iranians that 5 tons that were previously reported. In other words, there is a steamroller there, and 500 fighters transported by Turkey make little difference.

If you know Russian war songs, this is "Tachanka" versus "Lieutenant Golitsyn" ("Red army mows the enemies with machine guns" versus "the last battle before the exile").

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 15 2016 23:44 utc | 37

Re: Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 15, 2016 3:15:18 PM | 8

That is true, but the claimed 350,000 forced amassed near the Saudi/Kuwait border could be marched North-East.

In other words, straight through Kuwait into Iran, even as the Turkish force sweeps down into Syria from the North.

This would prevent Iran sending reinforcements to Syria for one. They'd have their own problems to worry about.

Posted by: Julian | Feb 15 2016 23:46 utc | 38

@33 Too bad Ashton can't bring himself to give Assad and Putin any credit.

Posted by: dh | Feb 15 2016 23:48 utc | 39

NBC evening just reported about the bombed hospital with a film of a 'rebel with a newborn baby and showed pic of crying kids in bandages with no discussion of where the bombings happen or any details. there was Assad waving his arms presumably like a crazy person i think where aiming for and no mention of the turkish shelling. same rubbish, different day.

Posted by: heath | Feb 15 2016 23:54 utc | 40

The horrible Mrs Merkel getting desperate to save her ISIS-saudi puppets, advocating no fly zone in Syria!
Seriously? Does this woman seek confrontation between Nato, that is Germany incl. and Russia?!

What the heck have become of this world? Lunatics!

Posted by: Trombol | Feb 15, 2016 3:21:36 PM | 10

My take is that Madam Kanzlerin is serious on matters like sticking it to Greeks. On other foreign policy matters she tends to be all over the place, a bit like the French, but they do it with esprit and elan and she does not. A shorter answer is "Seriously? Nope."

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 15 2016 23:57 utc | 41

I have looked around but have found no sources that verify the size of the forces gathered for "Northern Thunder". 350,000 seems extremely high to me.

Posted by: Perimetr | Feb 16 2016 0:02 utc | 43

Turkey is not only attacking ethnic Kurds in Syria but also attacking Europe by flooding it with mainly Arab refugees. So I'm guessing that the NATO membership is off the table?

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 16 2016 0:04 utc | 44

Erdogan tells EU: Act in Syria, or get ready to accept more refugees | Oct. 2015 |
Merkel’s Faustian embrace of Turkey | RT |

Turkey is pressuring Germany to create “safe zones” inside Syria as a “price” for alleviating the EU’s refugee crisis. It’s a Faustian bargain that could escalate the Syrian conflict, where NATO forces could end up pitted against Russia’s military.

Posted by: Oui | Feb 16 2016 0:18 utc | 45

Apropos Turkey-Ukraine, besides planning a decoy, part of the purpose could be to take delivery of "Russian" ordnance (of which Ukraine has plenty) to "prove" Russia's responsibility for the "hospital" strikes.

Posted by: Petra | Feb 16 2016 0:21 utc | 47

Concerning the dissing of the fine military forces of the Kingdom (not the United one). Indeed, Fadel is a biased source, I would be first to contradict him, KSA rulers and fighters are most assuredly hominids. The war for restoration of the legitimate democratically elected authorities in Yemen is not proceeding as well as some hoped, but the reasons are unclear, few reliable reports, so the conjecture that the lack of decisive victory there is caused by ineptitude may be rash.

What is better documented is the fact that half of Saudi military was kept away from the war in Yemen to assist orderly proceedings of the Hajj. And what a fine job did they perform! Just as a preliminary, a crane have fallen on the pilgrims. Then a hotel was on fire, then there was one of the most tragic mass stampedes ever, and in the aftermath, Saudis did not even bother to count the bodies.

Equally well documented is the success of Saudi military in procurement. They rejected patrolling boats from one company and decided to buy from another, for a ten times larger price. Then their boats were decimated by the Yemenis.

Wikipedia: The Royal Saudi Armed Forces (Arabic: القوات المسلحة الملكية السعودية‎, al-Quwwāt al-Musallaḥah al Malakeeya as-Suʿūdiyyah) consists of the Saudi Arabian Army, the Royal Saudi Air Force, the Royal Saudi Navy, the Royal Saudi Air Defense, the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), and paramilitary forces, totaling over 200,000 active-duty personnel. In 2012 the armed forces had the following personnel: the army, 75,000; Royal Saudi Air Force, 20,000; air defense, 16,000; Royal Saudi Navy, 13,500 (including 3,000 marines); and the SANG had 75,000 active soldiers and 25,000 tribal levies.[6] In addition, there is a military intelligence service, the General Intelligence Presidency (GIP).

SANG are the folks who supervised the Hajj. And sure, the Kingdom has a lot of allies, for example, Bahrein, but how in the name of Norway can they field 350,000 foot and horse for a military exercise when they also need troops here and there? Perhaps, like in Middle Ages, any military force of note has to march with a complement of man servants, maids, cooks, whores, minstrels, etc. etc. who were more numerous by far than the chivalry.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 16 2016 0:26 utc | 48

"Dr. Mego Terzian of Doctors Without Borders confirmed that at least seven people had died in a hospital in Idlib Provence that was hit by an airstrike. He cast blame on the Syrian and Russian governments.

"... Doctors Without Borders has found its hospitals increasingly under fire in conflict zones. American airstrikes killed 42 people at an affiliated hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last year. The charity’s hospitals have also been hit in a Saudi Arabian air campaign in Yemen."

The same group has made accusations against Americans and Saudis. There is no basis for portraying them as a propaganda arm of the U.S. government, as some commenters have done.

As for who the hospital serves:

"The hospital had 30 beds, 54 staff members, two operating rooms, clinics and an emergency room, and its destruction leaves 40,000 people without medical care, the charity said."

And there's this:

"Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that has been tracking attacks on health care workers and infrastructure amid the Syrian conflict, says that 697 health care workers have been killed in 336 attacks on medical sites, the vast majority of them carried out by the Syrian government and its allies."

Here's a link to the PHR website with maps, methodology and findings:

I really don't understand the reflexive reaction here. Assad is a bastard. Putin is as cold, calculating, militaristic, and deceitful as the American government. Russian Empire or American Empire, what's the difference? "Leftists" shouldn't be jingoistic drum-beating nationalists at the expense of truth and the little guy, who is inevitably the victim in all of these geopolitical chess games. None of these governments is the "good guys". They all have the blood of the innocent on their hands -- blood which they have knowingly budgeted for in their foreign and domestic "image" calculus.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 16 2016 0:35 utc | 49

@harry law

I happen to believe like you. Whatever bragging Saudi Arabia is doing they would never act alone against Russia. And if they did the United state would not follow them.Plus their involvement and alliance with Isis will be revealed as I don't see how The royal Saudis will seriously bomb and Attack the monster(Isis) they helped create and with which they are so tied, without any repercussion on them.Plus we have to think that Saudi Arabia is already waging a war In Yemen and that its national Politic isn't going that well with the Shia and so on.Such a move by them will just revealed more to the world how Saudi Arabia is in Bed with Islamist terrorists and weak and only sustained by US military presence on their soil.In the same Way it goes without saying,that a Saudi's military attack in Syria will be noneffective Against Putin who is pretty damn serious about protecting Syria.
Honestly, I don't see the Us wagging a war against Russia for the doe eyes of the Saudi and their allies in the region. That would be stupid in the current situation and it would be the downfall of the united state.In the same way world war Two was the last straw for the British Empire.If a war with Russia and Iran in the Region Should ever happen it would last years and the only winner on the global scale will be China that will emerge triumphant as the new worldwide dominant power. In the same Way the united State had been the winner at the end of World war Two after the downfall of the British. The Us are already declining and a full out war or partial war in the middle east against Russia and Iran will be suicidal.

In my opinion all these happening are just wishful thinking made by the neo-con and their allies around the world who hope that turkey or/and Saudi Arabia and any stupid states for that matter will make a war for them against Syria and Russia but it is just a wishful thinking.No one wants to enter into a conflict with Russia and Iran in teh middle east,no one for many obvious reason of internal politic and lack of resources(even the crazy Francois Holland would no do such a move).

Everyone smart knows that Putin and Bashar Al Assad already won this battle.The new center of the world is now the pacific and it is in this context that we should understand the alliance made by Obama with Iran to allow The united states to focus more on the pacific and control it instead of Chiana.Of Course the united state have a plan for the middle east and they would love to see Syria fall to pursue their politic of "divide and conquer" and thus strengthen their influence in Europe through the Qatar-turkey pipeline but they would never do it by starting a war in the middle east unless some people there lose it.

It means what it means but Kissinger Met with Putin a few days ago and it's probable that they reach an agreement or some kind of understanding about Syria.We all know what Kissinger represents to the American Oligarchy and its role as international broker. So I wouldn't be surprise if some back deal and understanding has been made.And that after a while an official deal comes up between all the regional and international powers involved in Syria.

Anyway just like b said it the battle will be long .The US won't just let the Russian and Bashar al-Assad have it easy if they can.They will not bomb their minions.Once the operation on the ground will be indisputable the deal will come in a heartbeat and sealed. But before that, I believe the taken of Aleppo By The Syrian army and Russia will be necessary especially with of course a closure of the Turkey's supply to the terrorists.

Great Article b.

Posted by: lebretteurfredonnant | Feb 16 2016 0:37 utc | 50

A lot has to do with the morale of the combatants. Fighting in Aleppo could be over quickly except for a small hardcore. If the 'rebels' think they have outside support they will keep going. If they don't they will fade away. Likewise the SAA will keep going with support from Russia, Hizbullah and Iran.

Posted by: dh | Feb 16 2016 0:49 utc | 51

I'm not sure I buy into the numbers put forward for Northern Thunder. They're ridiculous.

The west knows that Putin has gone all in as far as Syria is concerned. I don't think they will try to bluff him. But they're looking at a situation that involves one side or the other losing a great deal of influence and prestige. Same for Russia, they hired on to be tough shits, and now it's time to fill the bill.

A pretty potent mix. Not one that lends itself to diplomacy. I don't think that the US would allow Turkey or the KSA and Gulf States to start a world war on their own. If we see an invasion of any size from anywhere, then it's on.

With the SAA and their allies starting to move towards Raqqa, I guess the fat is in the fire. The west can't sit on their ass any longer if they ever hope to salvage any influence in this theatre. If there's any truth at all to the reports of the different military moves being made by all the players, then the stage has been set.

Oh goody. We can all chew the rag online till the satellites get blasted out of the fucking sky.

Posted by: peter | Feb 16 2016 1:06 utc | 52

The USA and Russia become allies in Syria
by Thierry Meyssan

Cheers Fred

Posted by: fredjc | Feb 16 2016 1:39 utc | 53

I am not sure that the White House is in full control of NATO or Langley. Somehow I wouldn't be surprised to see some "unexpected" development lead to a push for military involvement.

Posted by: Perimetr | Feb 16 2016 1:43 utc | 54

I really don't understand the reflexive reaction here. Assad is a bastard. Putin is as cold, calculating, militaristic, and deceitful as the American government. Russian Empire or American Empire, what's the difference? Emil Pulsifer | Feb 15, 2016 7:35:16 PM | 49

Actually, there is a difference. By trial and error, triangulating between wishes and possibilities, our Establishment finally design a master plan for Syria that was very nicely explained in NYT

[Lots of explanations by KAREN ZRAICK and ANNE BARNARD FEB. 12, 2016]

What Is the U.S. Doing on Syria?

There is a lot of confusion over the United States’ aims in Syria. American policy has been to give insurgents enough support to keep them going — not enough to help them actually win. The question the rebels are now asking is, will the United States let them lose outright?

The United States still insists on trying to separate the civil war from the fight against the Islamic State. That is a distinction the rebels largely reject, insisting that Mr. Assad must go.


To summarize, US breaks a huge bunch of laws by trafficking weapons, training terrorists, and for what? So that a "little war" goes on forever? Putin and Assad wish to end that war. Everything being equal, the goal to end a war is better than the goal of perpetuating it. Moreover, one can conceive a justification for a war in terms of a desired aftermath, but how to justify extending it with no such hope?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 16 2016 1:59 utc | 55

I think you're seeing a Saudi/Turkish pysop here. Don't fall for it.

The Saudi/Gulf Monarch ground force is positively comical both in the exaggerated numbers being thrown around and in the idea that they can fight anything more challenging than an unarmed 2 year old.

The Turkish military could invade (and they are really the only ones who can on short notice because Jordan ain't doing it) but the hand they played consisted of attacking kurds. Yeah they can attack the Syrian Army or her allies or Russia but everything the Turks have done wreaks of cowardice. The Turkish military is ultimately just a little better than the IDF. They mostly kill civilians and then send out armor and air strikes against lightly armed kurds that mostly kill unarmed civilians. The Turk army has a well documented moral problem and it will crumble if it faces a real enemy. It will revolt against Erdogan too.

The plan here is to threaten and increase threats to force Russia, Iran and Syria to stop the destruction of the Jihadists in Western Syria. They're going to throw a huge PR/psyop at Russia and friends and they are going to perform cowardly SU-24 actions but the massive ground force ain't coming.

The problem here is that Erdogan and the Saudi's in particular are going to escalate the provocations in hopes that Syria or Russia responds so they can run to NATO. Russia, Syria and/or Iran will eventually have to respond.

Posted by: alaric | Feb 16 2016 2:12 utc | 56

Seems we're at a point where the US either has to go big or go home.....a very American concept.

Posted by: dh | Feb 16 2016 2:13 utc | 57

"Erdogan is fucking crazy. He has to be removed and preferably executed."


Posted by: Huffington Aviation | Feb 16 2016 2:13 utc | 58

The Saudi-Turk proposals for an invasion are so transparent that I'm left in awe. Nevermind the Turks' and Saudis' conspicuous lack of action against ISIS - they have spent 5 years aiding and abetting ISIS, as well as Al Qaeda and all the assorted jihadists terrorizing Syria. Now, finally, Russia and Assad threaten victory, and the Saudis and Turks suddenly clamor for a ground invasion to take out ISIS once and for all. The House of Saud and Erdogan clearly have no shame, decency or above all dignity to pretend that their goal is to annihilate ISIS, and not to reopen the supply lines. Their pretext is a farce, and the West is so weak that it declines to publicly call them on it. A pathetic spectacle all around.

Putin must call Turkey's bluff: make clear that any incursion will be met with overwhelming force. Put the nuclear option on the table as an even bigger, and unanswerable, bluff.

Posted by: Huffington Aviation | Feb 16 2016 2:27 utc | 59

From the link @ 53: Brett McGurk served in Iraq under President George W. Bush from 2004. He is part of the team directed by John Negroponte ."

Seriously, directed by J. Negroponte? The war criminal responsible for thousands of deaths, at the hands of American sponsored death squads in central America? Oh, please!

Posted by: ben | Feb 16 2016 2:37 utc | 60

Interesting that suddenly Medvedev is the public face of Russia again...

Posted by: paul | Feb 16 2016 2:43 utc | 61

If the Turks and Saudis are actually led to invade by the US, and the US actually does not intend to start WW III, and if the Turks and Saudis are then defeated and humiliated by Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia ... cui bono?

Why is the US proceeding along this track? What do they plan to gain?

Or is Washington DC really out of control/reimplementing the Nixon madman pretense?

Posted by: jfl | Feb 16 2016 2:45 utc | 62

Although there has been some defensive reactions to the bombings of medical personnel, it's a common reflex reaction in partisan environments, also seen for example after the Afghanistan hospital attack. In today's case, the MSM jumped on the story in a way they never do in other contexts, and so it was being used as a propaganda construct rather than straight reporting. Nevertheless it is a deplorable situation which should emphasize that armed conflict is first and foremost a humanitarian disaster. Most of us know, even as the MSM lies, who is ultimately responsible for the disaster in Syria. At the inception of the UN, international law held that an attack on Syria as perpetrated by US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey was a criminal action and the political leadership should be held accountable. (of course this has been theory not practice) Understanding this, the performance of the MSM, particularly after the Russian engagement, has been beyond pathetic.

Posted by: jayc | Feb 16 2016 3:24 utc | 63

"Why is the US proceeding along this track? What do they plan to gain?
-- jfl #62

The answers seem to lie at the very macro-strategic level. fredjc at #53 just posted a link to Thierry Meyssan's latest, which suggests that the Obama faction is successfully asserting its position over the neocon position.

Meyssan has all along I believe reported on this situation as being one in which the US doesn't want to be involved, and has secret agreements with Russia to take over the US's position of influence. Penelope is more expert on this view.

I've seen several native commentators from the Middle East state that the US wants out of ME and is counting on Russia and Iran to stabilize a region that it has lost control of. And we also see the thought in various sources that the US wants out of the ME in order to turn its full attention to Asia. Frankly, I've never found this last one a very convincing reason to get out of ME, and I haven't seen any strong collateral from the west for this - but I also haven't studied this at all.

My own view agrees with the "two faction" struggle within Washington - which explains a lot of the schizophrenic policy - and I think the more cautious of the two is prevailing at present. But I personally think what's happening is that militarily the US has run into a wall called Russia, and some parts of leadership - in the Obama faction - now realize that the US cannot cross Russia's red lines with impunity, and that Russia in fact holds the superior force of violence.

I think of the US as a mime on stage, appearing to be struggling forward, and yet actually sliding backwards. I speculate that Russia is backing the US down, with things like the shoot down of the US cruise missiles 3 years ago, the Donald Cook episode, and amazing fighting capability showcased in the Syrian initiative. And as I've said here before, Russia I think gives the US lots of room to remain the bully because Russia is trying to calm the madman and build peace in the world, rather than score points or win wars.

In short, everything the US is doing makes sense and even perhaps becomes predictable if we think in terms of retreat in face-saving ways at every turn.

Posted by: Grieved | Feb 16 2016 3:32 utc | 64

@49 emil.. thanks for confirming my initial impression of your posts..

Posted by: james | Feb 16 2016 3:54 utc | 65

I don't reckon the bombed hospital stories have been planted in the hope that Joe/Joanne Citizen of the western hemisphere will rouse themselves outta their war weary vicarious/voyeuristic ennui and demand "something must be done", that there must be fukUS 'boots on the ground'challenging the cruel Ruskie.
The stories are a small step in a long journey of re-indoctrination mixed with a dash of whataboutery.

Even amerikans deafened and blinded by the continuous stream of msm delivered propaganda will recall of a certain Afghan hospital when reading/viewing this story.
But now the most indoctrinated have a comeback should some untoward home truth sprout from ugly seed of doubt about manifest destiny and amerikan exceptionalism planted when the Kunduz hospital butchery was confirmed. "The Russkies did it too" they will cry "More than our accidental one" blah blah blah.

The Russian airforce may well have hit a genuine established hospital. That is one of the under-advertised consequences of war, However, unlike amerikan gwot strategy, Russia's doesn't appear to regard destroying vital social infrastructure in order to 'win' the contract to rebuild it, as an essential way of funding their exploits, so the odds are high that the bombing was the result of an error.

The Russians weren't taken completely unaware by the "Look what Russian bombs do" fingerpoint because this story leaked by a source within the UN mandated Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) appeared shortly after the 'Russia bombs hospital' yarn surfaced.

According to the article in the link ISIS has been gassing YPG Kurds with mustard gas.
That much has been proven but since this is the Guardian, the meat of the horror show, that ISIS has the desire and means to unleash weapons of mass destruction upon those deemed to be apostate is buried beneath a welter of evidence-free assertions that the mustard gas was obtained from chemical weapons stockpiles which the 'Assad regime' deliberately failed to declare back in 2011.

I didn't notice any reference to an earlier OPCW finding in the Grauniad piece - that the release of Sarin gas in the early stages of the tinpot rebellion was performed by mercenaries of the 'resistance' in a stupid and failed effort to force amerika into more direct participation in the festival of headchopping Salman and Erdogan had planned.

Sally & Erdy - headchopping planners extraordinaire

Posted by: Debs is dead | Feb 16 2016 4:09 utc | 66

@65 @49 emil.. thanks for confirming my initial impression of your posts.. You and I both.

@49 I really don't understand the reflexive reaction here. Assad is a bastard. Putin is as cold, calculating, militaristic, and deceitful as the American government.

Well then, you are more then welcome to leave and go pollute other boards where you and your pals can complain about the sad nihilistic state of affairs the current zeitgeist has become and leave us poor saps enjoy yet another bright day watching the SAA & friends kick ass..

Posted by: Lozion | Feb 16 2016 4:25 utc | 67

@fredje - #53

".. Obama faction is successfully asserting its position over the neocon position"

Please! Obama and minions have followed the neocon positions on foreign policy from the beginning ... Libya, Syria, Ukraine and AfPak region, Yemen, Somalia and Mahgreb with drone strikes. Thx in large part to HRC, Vicky Nuland, Joe Biden, William Burns, Dennis Ross, Frederic Hof on the Palestinian issue. OpEd: Obama's MidEast team. Most of these "centrists" were removed under John Kerry in order to make gains on the nuclear deal with Iran. The transition came 5 years too late! Severe trauma and half a millions deaths later ... :-(

Posted by: Oui | Feb 16 2016 4:37 utc | 68

@63 jc, 'At the inception of the UN, international law held that an attack on Syria as perpetrated by US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey was a criminal action and the political leadership should be held accountable. '

Roll that back to the attack on Iraq on 20 March 2003 ... 4716 days ago ... the USA has been directly or indirectly responsible for every death, for all the devastation and destruction since. Robert H. Jackson

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

@65 grieved

I'm sure the US exective is of at least two minds concerning its 'program' in the Middle East ... but to carry on as they are, knowingly, deliberately causing more death, devastation, and destruction along a path they know they will abandon when the 'moment of truth' arrives ... that's a very special brand of depravity, that cannot be attributed to anything other than disgraceful personal human failing, to the moral collapse of the individuals involved. Needless and heedless moral collapse.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 16 2016 4:57 utc | 69

It seems to me these facilities are not marked or known as a MSF hospital as was clearly the case in Kunduz and in Yemen.

Syria: An Endless Night Getting Darker and Darker | MSF |

Posted by: Oui | Feb 16 2016 5:03 utc | 70

Three of the hospitals that MSF supports have been hit recently. Were these attacks been deliberate? | MSF – Feb. 10, 2016 |

In the last week alone, three hospitals MSF supports with donations have been hit by bombs. Because of the insecurity, the Syrian medical teams we support have not been able to get back into these facilities to assess the damage. There were no casualties in these bombings, as far as we know. [Later update proved there were 3 deaths – Oui]

One of the hospitals was an ex-MSF hospital handed over in June to a Syrian medical association, but we continued our support with donations of medical equipment and drugs.

Syria: MSF-supported field hospital in Tafas hit by airstrikes

Posted by: Oui | Feb 16 2016 5:04 utc | 71

“In the current situation it would be helpful, if there could be such an area, where none of the parties are allowed to launch aerial attacks, that is to say, a kind of no-fly zone,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday told the daily Stuttgarter Zeitung, when asked by the publication about opening up areas to host refugees

Refugee holding pens, perhaps to be used as human shields? Well since you asked so nicely it would be rude not to oblige you...

Posted by: Nana2007 | Feb 16 2016 5:12 utc | 72

Its difficult to know with any certainty what will happen. I would be cautious about relying upon any single statement.

1) Saudi's will join "US-led" action.
That doesn't preclude a Saudi-Turkish action.

2) Turks talked of imminent action but nothing happened.

3) Obama's political persona is to be the "reluctant warrior". He scolds the left as he pretends to hold off the evil right - but ultimately caves in to the right. The Obama Administration will talk about peace but ultimately support its belligerent allies with a "lead from behind" shrug.

So maybe USA reacts only after an anti-ISIS force is attacked by the 4+1 Coalition? This would add to the demonization of Putin/Russia.

Or, maybe USA is waiting for another ISIS terr0r attack to galvanize the public?

Or, maybe Syria is a lost cause and USA+allies realize that all they really need is a corridor for the gas pipeline to replace Russian gas. Maybe this could be had just by occupying ISIS-held territory in Iraq?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 16 2016 5:55 utc | 73

fredjc @53

I agree with critical remarks of ben@60 and oui@68.

If the USA and Russia have become allies in Syria then why the 4:30am phone call in which Obama is said to have rebuffed Putin?

I don't think anyone paying attention would believe that the Russian's would participate in political kabuki with Obama.

The article claims that "Obama regains control of the Syrian situation". This palace intrigue BS is just that. Does anyone believe that Obama gives a rats ass or ever had 'control'? LOL!

This article shows why many believe T. Meyssan to be a source of disinfo.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 16 2016 6:04 utc | 74

Syria Says US Not Russia Responsible for MSF Hospital Attack

“American warplanes destroyed it,” Syria’s Ambassador to Moscow Riad Haddad said of the bombed hospital in an interview with Russian state television channel Rossiya 24. “Russian warplanes had nothing to do with any of it — the information that has been gathered will completely back that up.”

Haddad argued that blaming Russia for the strikes is part of a Western-backed war of information against Moscow.

At least five medical facilities and two schools were among the buildings hit by missiles on Monday in attacks that left almost 50 civilians dead, including children and women.

Waiting on that information ...

Posted by: jfl | Feb 16 2016 8:41 utc | 75

@Emil Pulsifer 49
Well said
I don't see any evidence, just opinion, re MSF bias. The organization seems to strive to stay neutral and focus on providing service to all....

Posted by: Bluemot5 | Feb 16 2016 8:53 utc | 76

I would like to sing this song to the Saudi Royal perverts, its lyrics have become proverbial for futile action.
Oh, The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 16 2016 9:36 utc | 77

This is an update on KSA two fronts in Yemen and Syria:

Posted by: Anonynouse | Feb 16 2016 10:01 utc | 78

BREAKING NEWS The KSA and Russia have just jointly signed an agreement freezing oil production at January levels.

Doesn't that strike you's as sorta outa left field !?!?!? Some sort of Putin de-escalation master stroke, or - and I find the idea that Putin wouldn't be all over anything involving "The Enemy" as ludicrous - is it just random business-as-usual from the Oil Ministry with little or no input from the Kremlin?? Will it end up throwing the Sepo's plans sideways ??

Anyhow thought I'd just drop that in


Chris in Ch - Ch

Posted by: kiwicris | Feb 16 2016 10:10 utc | 79

Emil Pulsifer says:

Russian Empire or American Empire, what's the difference?

as two federal, constitutional republics one might well ask, what's the difference,

and the ensuing commentary could well reveal many similarities,

but when these republics are characterized as empires, well, the differences are so many, so huge, and so obvious, that i can only conclude that the idiocy of your question is, in your case, innate.

Posted by: john | Feb 16 2016 11:01 utc | 80

The race to Raqqa could be said to have started when Russia entered Syria last October, the Russian Ambassador to London claims the US expected the Islamists to capture Damascus by October, after a no fly zone was set up.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 16 2016 13:32 utc | 81

KSA, Turkey get cold feet on Syria troops

"Turkey is not going to have a unilateral ground operation. We are asking coalition partners that there should be a ground operation. We are discussing this with allies," the official told reporters at a briefing in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, a Saudi diplomat said the kingdom was “very serious” about sending ground troops into Syria, but would wait to see if the planned truce would take effect, The Independent reported.

The US seems to have hung them out to dry. Good.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 16 2016 13:43 utc | 82

KSA, Turkey get cold feet on Syria troops

"Turkey is not going to have a unilateral ground operation. We are asking coalition partners that there should be a ground operation. We are discussing this with allies," the official told reporters at a briefing in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, a Saudi diplomat said the kingdom was “very serious” about sending ground troops into Syria, but would wait to see if the planned truce would take effect, The Independent reported.

The US seems to have hung them out to dry. Good.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 16 2016 13:43 utc | 83

Here again I have to repeat what I have said already a million times in the past: the small Russian contingent in Syria is in a very precarious position: far away from Russia and very close (45km) to Turkey. Not only that, but the Turks have over 200 combat aircraft ready to attack, whereas the Russians probably has less than 20 SU-30/35/34s in total. Yes, these are very advanced aircraft, of the 4++ generation, and they will be supported by S-400 systems, but the force ratio remains a terrible 1:10. ..... The current situation is full of dangerous and unstable asymmetries: the Russian task force in Syria is small and isolated and it cannot protect Syria from NATO or even from Turkey

Week Eighteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria: a dramatic escalation appears imminent

Posted by: virgile | Feb 16 2016 15:29 utc | 84

Syria: The Winners and Losers Are Becoming Clear in This War
Patrick Cockburn • February 14, 2016

Posted by: virgile | Feb 16 2016 15:35 utc | 85

kiwicris @79:

Doesn't that strike you's as sorta outa left field !?!?!?

ZeroHedge explains:

... as expected the two failed to agree to any production cut; instead what they did agree on was to "freeze" production at January's already record levels, and furthermore make the agreement contingent on other OPEC members complying, something Iran has already said it would not agree to.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 16 2016 15:41 utc | 86

If reports of PYG taking Marea are correct , this puts them a town away fr Dabiq, ISIS 's historic apocalyptic town

Posted by: Nana2007 | Feb 16 2016 16:40 utc | 87

Tuesday,February 16 2016
As reported by the Turkish media:
Free Syrian Army abandons Aleppo, leader flees to Turkey

Posted by: virgile | Feb 16 2016 16:45 utc | 88

@76 Bluemot5.. if you like some arsenic with your meal - go for it..

Posted by: james | Feb 16 2016 16:46 utc | 89

Former head of the British army Lord Dannatt said the UK Government have it all wrong in Syria, they are backing the losers. They should be backing Assad and Russia. Too true.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 16 2016 17:10 utc | 90

a little arsenic anyone?

Posted by: james | Feb 16 2016 17:20 utc | 91


I think of the US as a mime on stage, appearing to be struggling forward, and yet actually sliding backwards. I speculate that Russia is backing the US down, with things like the shoot down of the US cruise missiles 3 years ago, the Donald Cook episode, and amazing fighting capability showcased in the Syrian initiative. And as I've said here before, Russia I think gives the US lots of room to remain the bully because Russia is trying to calm the madman and build peace in the world, rather than score points or win wars.

In short, everything the US is doing makes sense and even perhaps becomes predictable if we think in terms of retreat in face-saving ways at every turn.

Excellent imagery, Grieved! I believe you are correct. Thank you.

Posted by: juliania | Feb 16 2016 17:29 utc | 92

Angry Arab Feb 15, via Xymphora:

From 2011: "U.S. Officials: Assad's 'Days Are Numbered'"
From 2012: "President Obama Confident 'Assad's Days are Numbered'."
From 2012: "Clinton Says Assad's Days Are Numbered"
From 2012: "Arab League says Assad's days are numbered".
From 2013: "U.S. intel says Assad’s days are numbered." OK. I can go on and on but have other things to do.

Xymph's guess is 10,000 to 15,000.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 16 2016 17:31 utc | 93

@92 Give or take a few Friedman Units.

Posted by: dh | Feb 16 2016 17:37 utc | 94

"a little arsenic anyone?

Posted by: james | Feb 16, 2016 12:20:26 PM | 90"

You are so cute :) Ass-uming that is indeed Aleppo (which I can't see from that vid) - of course those long deserted ruins are "civilian areas"... only they haven't seen a civilian for quite a while, like two years at least. Unless you count the liver-eaters as civilians that is.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 16 2016 18:03 utc | 95

Recep Erdogan's Original Amateur Hour.

Personally I am trying to locate my A$$ as I have just laughed it off as in 'laughing my A$$ off.'


"Turkey is asking allies including the United States to take part in a joint ground operation in Syria, as a Moscow-backed government advance nears its borders, raising the possibility of direct confrontation between the NATO member and Russia."

source -

Posted by: ALberto | Feb 16 2016 18:06 utc | 96

@95 LMAO! So Erdo and his saudi pals want to make that "gog vs. magog" happen in their legendary place of prophecy. In a certain way, I kinda hope they'll try, their fall will basically destroy 98% of all terrorism world-wide.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 16 2016 18:13 utc | 97


Meyssan was spilling the beans about Russia's military build up, their planned intervention, and American acquiescence when b was poo pooing the idea (no offence b). Meyssan is credible. Viewed through the prism of the Iran nuclear agreement, Syria was a sideshow to turn the screw on the Iranians and force a deal. It worked. Now Obama wants out, leaving the festering mess for Russia to clean up, or at least west of the Euphrates. Both have also taken the decision to shaft mad dog Erdogan, recognising the legitimacy of Kurdish aspirations and their credibility as an anti-IS force. The SDF is proving itself to be a potent force under the umbrella of Russian airpower around Azaz - that same SDF being trained and armed by the US north of Raqqa.

It's an orgy, and the opposition are being fucked by Uncle Sam and Mother Russia.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Feb 16 2016 18:17 utc | 98

It is clearer by the day that the USA is fed up with Erdogan's dangerous megalomania and his Islamist proselytism. Like Russia, the USA would like to have Erdogan out. Yet, as Turkey is part of NATO, the USA cannot directly confront him.
Therefore it has been setting up several traps and taking advantage of Erdogan's blindness to throw Turkey in increasingly complex dilemmas that are weakening him both internally and internationally.
The USA and Russia hope that in view of the slowdown of the economy (less investment, less export and zero tourism) there would be more civil unrest and that the war against the ethnic Kurds could degenerate into a civil war.
That would be a perfect climate for a military coup.

Posted by: virgile | Feb 16 2016 18:41 utc | 99


Nice try Virgie but that HDN report was from 11-18-2014

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 16 2016 18:50 utc | 100

next page »

The comments to this entry are closed.