Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 04, 2016

Syria: The U.S. Is Unwilling To Settle - Russia Returns For Another Round

The Obama administration does not want peace in Syria. The Russians finally have to admit to themselves that the U.S. is no partner for a continuation of a cease fire, a coordinated attack against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda and for peace in Syria. Indeed, as Lavrov explains, the U.S. has again asked to spare al-Qaeda from Russian air strikes even as two UN Security Council resolutions demand its eradication. Huge supply convoys (vid) from Turkey are again going to the "rebels" who will, as always, share them with al-Qaeda and other terrorists.

The current renewed Syrian Arab Army attack towards Raqqa is being obstructed not only by sandstorms but also by a timely attack of al-Qaeda, Ahrar al Sham and Turkestan Islamist Party forces against government positions in the south Aleppo countryside.

More than 1,000 militants have begun an offensive against Syrian army positions southwest of Aleppo, the Russian ceasefire monitoring center in Syria said in a statement on Saturday.

The center also reported civilians in Aleppo as saying armed groups partly made up of Turkish soldiers had appeared north of the city.

The exactly same scheme happened in March and April when a move towards eastern Syrian by the Syrian army had to be stopped to prevent further losses against al-Qaeda south of Aleppo. It seems obvious that these moves U.S. supported forces are planned to prevent any gains of the Syrian government in the east.

Today Lavrov again talked to Kerry:

"Lavrov expressed concern about attempts to delay the resumption of political negotiations under various pretexts," the [Russian foreign] ministry said.

As the U.S. is unwilling to settle the Syria conflict Russia will have to retake the initiative.

Is this a trap? Does the U.S. want Russia to sink into a quagmire in Syria? That is certainly a possibility but it is hard to see how this could happen when Russia comes back with a vengeance and strikes hard and fast.

Russian airstrikes against terrorists in Syria have tripled over the last days. Additional resources have been silently dispatched:

Without stirring a buzz similar to that of their first military intervention in Syria, the Russians this week disembarked ground forces and paratroopers in the port of Tartus to support more than 3,000 Russian volunteers dispatched to the region in the past few weeks, in a bid to revive coordination with the Syrian army.
Syrian sources stated that the Russian joint command staff, which coordinated aerial support operations last fall, had returned to the Hmeimim military base in Latakia province to begin preparations for new operations.

One can only hope that the Russian leadership has learned its lesson. That it will not stop to pursue the enemy for no political gain when it is again, as it likely will soon be, on the run.

Posted by b on June 4, 2016 at 18:11 UTC | Permalink

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>> Is this a trap? Does the U.S.
>> want Russia to sink into a
>> quagmire in Syria?

Could the "trap" be in reverse?

Which empire's people are growing angrier and angrier at the government and the political choices? Which empire can afford to continue investing so much while the misery index climbs sharply? (The drop in oil mitigated the misery. But, I suspect the price oil has bottomed. The fracking "weapon" is nearly exhausted, because people are growing angrier over water supply poisoning.) One empire's people has known misery and endured it. Another empire has mainly heaped it on others and not known it for itself, in 150 years.

Posted by: dumbass | Jun 4 2016 18:59 utc | 1

One question that I'd love to know the answer to is this.

If insufficient military manpower is the reason for this back and forth useless ceasefire game played by Russia/Iran/Syria, then why not solve them manpower problem and have the Syrians invite Chinese participation in the conflict with perhaps 50,000 troops dispatched to Syria to mop up the terrorists?

I can think of 3 reasons, which one is it, or if more than one of them, what proportion is with each possibility.

1) The Chinese don't believe they have force projection capabilities to put any number of troops in harms way on the other side of the world lest these troops be cut off and suffer heavy losses.

2) The Chinese simply don't want to insert themselves in a meaningful way into a Middle Eastern conflict by putting 'boots on the ground' as this has all sorts of unpredictable geo-political consequences and at this stage it is simply their view that it is infinitely more prudent to keep their powder dry for when it might possibly really be needed, or not, but it's good to have the option rather than make a perhaps unnecessary commitment (from their point of view).

3) The Russians have made it clear they don't want any Chinese involvement as Syria is their backyard and they will 'solve' this problem without Chinese assistance (which would undermine Russian claims to be the major bulwark against the West). If this third point is the reason, I believe that is a 'macho' mistake to adopt that attitude and dissuade the Chinese from getting involved. It seems clear to me that there is no clear path to a unified Syria under the Government of Assad anytime soon. Russia has been involved in Syria hardcore since September - nearly 9 months - and what major cities have been recaptured in that time?

Idlib? Nope. Aleppo? Nope. Raqqah? Nope.

Palmyra has - but that is an outpost in the desert, hardly a major city.

What is the timeline? It seems infinite, and that can only breed resentment amongst the Syrian people if they see a Russian intervention doing nothing to halt the prolonged suffering in the country. If a solution is not provided quickly it merely becomes a part of the problem.

Posted by: Jules | Jun 4 2016 19:35 utc | 2

Seems unlikely Putin will return to hit them "hard and fast." His capitulation to Washington on Syria (often obscured by pro-Putin pundits) has been obscene & unforgivable, especially recently. Don't forget, it took Putin over 4 years before he chose to intervene in Syria at all - a 2012 intervention would've nipped the whole thing in the bud. But no, it looks like Donbass 2.0. He'll do anything to avoid serious conflict with USA, it appears, even selling out his own people in eastern Ukraine. As many have noted, Putin is now doing what he had previously said could not be done: demanding the separation of "moderate" terrorists from "extremist" terrorists. The head of Russia's top security body Evgeny Lukyanov signaled that Russia wasn't planning to stick its neck out for Syria: "[Syrians] must solve their issues for themselves."

Posted by: Mark | Jun 4 2016 19:35 utc | 3

Russia on Friday, May 20, called for joint operations against Al-Qaeda’s Al-Nusra Front with the United States. US officials, however, didn’t respond kindly to the idea. Instead, Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said, “We do not collaborate or cooperate with the Russians. The US has different military objectives in Syria than the Russians do.”
The US stalling is obvious to everyone, and was evident at the fall of Palmyra, when the US state department could not decide who was worse, the Syrian army or ISIS. The gloves must come off,or the US will try and partition Syria.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jun 4 2016 19:39 utc | 4

But B told us that some of the previous ceasefires were a victory for Russia !!! At least in the PR department, and worth next to zero.

And too many Syrians had to be slaughtered by the rearmed US empires terrorist proxies - in part thanks to The stupid and cowardly Russian leadership - for the message to finally get through. More slaughter is Exactly what some of us were saying would happen.

Too bad so many had to die while Putin-bots thought Putin was too genius to be outplayed by the evil US Empire.
Oh and how many here at Moon of Alabama including B was singing Putins presience when Putin ludocrisly said that this war would take only 4 months. And I called it be an obvious BS timetable, day 1, just like all first announced war timetables.

The whole insane idea of Russia out working with the greatest evil the world has ever seen and intent on Russia's subservience if not destruction, should finally be put to bed FOREVER. In Syria, or anywhere else.

Posted by: tom | Jun 4 2016 19:45 utc | 5

Gotta give Putin and Co credit for making it absolutely clear that they gave "The Empire" a chance to do the right thing by cooperating. That "THE Empire" didn't was no surprise ... and it is clear that Russia never expected "THE Empire" to do so.
The next step, from my jaundiced perspective, is to watch the great American "Booboisie" allow itself to be duped once again by the propaganda machinery. No doubt Americans will be told how awful Russia is, while most of the non-Anglophone world will see once again who can be trusted and who can't. What is really sad is that so many Americans will believe the bullshit, even those who post to this site. In fact, it has already begun ... see above!

Posted by: rg the lg | Jun 4 2016 19:51 utc | 6

Russia is using Syria as a trading chip, purely for its own interests, just like in Donbass. No wonder almost entire Resistance is pissed at Russia, but its nothing new. It was actually naive to expect anything else.

Posted by: Harry | Jun 4 2016 20:06 utc | 7

Quagmire? SHOCKED. Dismayed? US not cooperating in defeating ISIL?
Syrians lost momentum on the ground?

If you read you would know that for months now.

You would know that from the very beginning the ceasefire was a sham and Russians knowingly played along.

Now refreshed with new money and weapons terrorists regain initiative in some strategic points and started attack Russian military infrastructure. What's worse Syrian people are angry.

There is no doubt that so called ceasefire was not about Syria but an attempt for some kind of geopolitical deal to detriment of Syrian people since otherwise did not make any sense for Russians.
Unless they are stupid which they are not.

Posted by: Kalen | Jun 4 2016 20:22 utc | 8

Harry @7

Russia is a long term ally of Syria. Russia, Syria, Iran have a mutual defense pact. An attack on one is an attack on all ...

Just in the ME our side has double dealt and back stabbed Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, etc. Then there is our double dealing in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Yes Russia is operating in its own best interest. But if you check recent history, the last 40 years or so, you will find that it was our side who backed a disastrous war between Iraq and Iran. Then back stabbed Saddam who ran the war as a US puppet.

Posted by: ALberto | Jun 4 2016 20:28 utc | 9

Exposing the degree of Outlaw US Empire support for terrorism and against peace is a major policy goal of the Russian government, and this latest refusal atop the inviting of a terror group leader to Washington just guilty of a massive terror bombing providing the icing on the cake for that goal's achievement. For the first time in decades, the global balance of soft power is no longer controlled by the Outlaw US Empire. The Diplomat has published a recap of the ASEAN-Russia conference at Sochi and provides a conclusion that could only be arrived at due to Russia's ascendancy as an even handed peace seeker:

"Yet a larger security role for Russia in the region should be regarded as a common rather than narrow interest. The security challenges in the 21st century are quite complex. To combat these challenges, the Asia-Pacific should not be dominated by the Western conception placing the United States as a single hegemonic power. Likewise, the region should not be ruled by a Chinese foreign policy agenda that treats other countries as its servant. And the Asia-Pacific should never again fall under the Cold War shadow."

The global power tide is changing about as swiftly as the ice melts at the poles, which is accelerating nowadays.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 4 2016 20:36 utc | 10

@2 Jules

You cannot operate in the realm of fantasy. The PLA is not a gang of heroes ready to deploy and save the day. China has just as many strategic and economic relations with the GCC and US as with the resistance axis countries. They also have no idea how their army will function in a real conflict, and stepping into 10 different mini stalingrad infantry meat grinders is not exactly the easiest way to win military prestige. No benefit, lots of risk, no Chinese troops.

Russia is clearly trying to define their intervention as a completely legal and rational exercise against terrorism, and they've done it well. However, the Syrian state is at such a manpower disadvantage that the war needs to be ended as soon as possible, Russia and Iran need to be decisive in finishing the conflict. The US and GCC are happy to keep the flow of weapons and foreigners until every last Alawite is dead.

Posted by: Cresty | Jun 4 2016 20:43 utc | 11

ALberto | 9

Russia is a long term ally of Syria. Russia, Syria, Iran have a mutual defense pact. An attack on one is an attack on all ...

Russia doesnt have true friends or alies per se, it has situational friends, which it supports (or throws under the bus) according to what benefits Russia more at that moment. Like it screwed Iran many times over, or screwed Syria with recent ceasefire and is perfectly fine with US plans to divide the Syria. Its just US who wants even bigger cake without any compromise, hence the friction.

Syria - Iran - Hezbollah are true alies by the definition.

US backstabbing its alies isnt new either, but strictly speaking it doesnt have true alies as well. More like subordinate regimes around the World.

@ karlof1 | 10

Exposing the degree of Outlaw US Empire support for terrorism and against peace is a major policy goal of the Russian government

I doubt its "a major policy goal of the Russian government" because everybody who wanted knew it already, and since this exposing absolutely doesnt change anything in behaviour or narrative in the West, what would be the point?

What Russia is doing is playing a long-term geopolitical game to increase its own power, while allowing semi-bloodless exit of US as superpower, avoiding direct confrontation and spending the least resources possible.

That would be perfectly fine, except that Russia is a lot like US in the sense that they are both governed by cynical realpolitics with no higher ideals (they both profess these ideals daily, but its just a PR), and under heavy influence of oligarchy.

They act differently mainly because of vast difference in power and influence, if their roles would be reversed, we would be talking about US leading the resistance and obeying International law, while Russia being the Evil empire.

Posted by: Harry | Jun 4 2016 21:21 utc | 12

@2, jules,

The Chinese never have and never will involve themselves on the ground, in the air, or at sea in the Middle East. They certainly are not taking orders from the Russians.

@12, harry, 'They act differently mainly because of vast difference in power and influence ...'

I certainly agree there. But your hypothetical reversal of positions and subsequent mechanical, deterministic projection is a bit over the top. The Russians are besieged on every side by the evil empire and are on their own, doing the best that they can in the face of the US/EU encirclement and KSA/GCC/Turkish terror. Too many people are equating Russia and the US in terms of brute physical force, and that's just not the case. Not only is the US outsized militarily, but it has its obedient, slack-jawed vassals in the EU to play off as buffers and pawns who take the hit when things go wrong. It's all still 'over there' to the USA, as it has been for the past century. Not so with Russia, or the deaf, dumb, and blind Europeans. To put it mildly.

Posted by: jfl | Jun 4 2016 22:12 utc | 13

If round two of support for Syria has started then Russia should wreck vengeance on western backed proxie vermin with no letup until the vermin are exterminated like the rats they are.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Jun 4 2016 22:44 utc | 14

One can only hope that the Russian leadership has learned its lesson. That it will not stop to pursue the enemy for no political gain when it is again, as it likely will soon be, on the run.
Posted by b on June 4, 2016 at 02:11 PM

Yep. Great post, b.
It's certainly attracting a lot of oafish and infantile wishful thinking, sour grapes and denial from the trolls. This is one conflict which the NYT and WaPo haven't got a snowflake's chance in Hell of helping AmeriKKKa to win...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 4 2016 22:47 utc | 15

Jules @ 2:

Nice argument but insufficient manpower on Syria's side is not the sole issue. If the US, Turkey and various other countries weren't supplying ISIS and al Nusra with arms, fighters, money and advice (and in the case of the US, air cover for the takfiris against Syria) in the first place, the SAA would have got rid of the terrorists quickly by now.

Posted by: Jen | Jun 4 2016 22:51 utc | 16

thanks b... good comments from many..

i think russia has a difficult road to balance.. everyone figures they ought to have finished off the headchopper usa/ksa etc support cult asap... fact is, it is very apparent that the usa and etc have no interest in letting this situation in syria go into a freeze.. russia was able to pull that off somewhat in ukraine, but not here.. the way i see it, more and more folks are seeing the west for what it is - not interested in a multi-polar world... meanwhile everyone wants to trash russia and think somehow that china would get involved - that is a crazy thought which i very much doubt, but we might be getting their faster then not if this continues..

how many major fires does the west want to start? how many can russia put out? i really believe russia has to play a long game here.. they don't have the same set up on the chess board that the usa has... people can complain all they want about finishing the jihadists off, but it ain't gonna come easy, or if the usa/ksa and etc can help it..

somebody named harper has post up at sst which i related fairly well to.. i guess trashing russia is the quick thing to do, but i just don't see it the same way as a few folks here.. sure, i would like the shit over, but i don't think this is an easy thing with constant fuel being thrown at it by the usa and all the others seeking their own reasons and rationale for same...

Posted by: james | Jun 4 2016 23:25 utc | 17

As long as jihadis and weapons continue to flow across Turkish border war will not end. Turkey and KSA must be made to pay a VERY high price if they continue on current course.

Posted by: Andoheb | Jun 4 2016 23:30 utc | 18

@18 ahdoheb...i agree with you.

i encourage everyone who hasn't already - to watch the video that b linked to at the top - supply conveys... now, the usa and etc will say it's humanitarian aid.. russia will claim it is all weapons, or a combo of both...

am i missing something, or does the usa/ksa/turkey and etc - have some international right to give weapons to ''moderates''? this turns syria into a war zone thanks these same countries.. is this something the un and international body condone? syria has invited russia - that is a big difference.. i must be missing something here.

Posted by: james | Jun 4 2016 23:50 utc | 19

dumbass@1 Never, never underestimate the ignorance of the majority of Americans. Sure they're angry! Sure they're suffering! But that is only opportunity knocking for the 24/7 propaganda machine to direct that ignorance, anger and suffering away from or towards whomever it wishes.

Posted by: Macon Richardson | Jun 4 2016 23:53 utc | 20

Many of the comments here criticize Vladimir Putin for not pursuing the Syrian conflict to an end, and various negative rationales for this are given.

Consider, however, that this is an election year in the US. Like Br'er Fox, Putin must lay low until that rambling circus and its various side shows are over. By the middle of November, Putin, Russia and the world will know what to expect in the future. By the middle of November, they will know how to proceed. At this point it would be the height of foolishness for Valdimir Putin to give ammunition to any candidate in the US presidential race, especially to any candidate in the primary races who already calls him the new Hitler.

Sander, Trump and Putin were all born and bred in the briar patch. All three understand one another and neither Sanders nor Trump see Putin as a monster. Putin is right to just cool it until mid-November.

So are we all.

Posted by: Macon Richardson | Jun 5 2016 0:16 utc | 21

It's been said before, of course, but I would like to ask if this comes as a shock to Lavrov and Putin? How many times in the last few years were cease-fires declared when US-backed forces were facing a catastrophic defeat? How many times has this paid off for Russia and its allies?

I can't help but wonder if there is some strategic reason for this process. Did Russia need more time to prepare its military forces for a larger war? Perhaps its defenses (S-500)?

Posted by: Perimetr | Jun 5 2016 1:03 utc | 22

Is the direct Russian effort cheaper (as a % of their GDP) and thus more sustainable than Oceania's multinational effort involving layers and layers of politicians, contractors, mercenaries, and religious nuts?

Someone on this board once mentioned that Russia is using its "training budget" to wipe out ISIS. I don't know if that was offered as an exaggeration. But, it does lead me to ask my introductory question.

Posted by: dumbass | Jun 5 2016 1:16 utc | 23

Macon, yes, I understand the "rage" is channeled to serve TPB. But, with the standard of living dropping and with a majority of Americans vehemently hating both candidates, I wonder whether the oligarchs have made some "mistakes" that will actually cost them. (I can dream. Can't I??)

Posted by: dumbass | Jun 5 2016 1:20 utc | 24

@22 perimeter, 'I can't help but wonder if there is some strategic reason for this process. Did Russia need more time to prepare its military forces for a larger war?'

Some folks have Russia preparing to 'eliminate' the missiles the US has put in Romania and plans to put in Poland next year. I don't think they're foolish enough to do that ... to start the hot war ... but I certainly do note that they have lots more in addition to Syria on their plate, and much less brute force to apply to their problems, even if they wanted to, than does the evil empire.

Russia is forced to exercise reason and restraint.

Posted by: jfl | Jun 5 2016 1:22 utc | 25

Russia is leading the Syrian Army into a most spectacular victory for the Syrian government.When Bashar al Assad said he wants to reconquer all of Syria, the MSM laughed at him, convinced that Russia was not going to help and that the ISIS capital would remain for long time untouchable.
Now there is a rush. The group that gets Al Raqqa will get all the honors. It seems that it is the SAA that will free the ISIS capital.
After Palmyra, Bashar al Assad will get more recognition within the country, despite the expected assault of the media, frustrated again by the military achievement of a leader they thought will not last.
The reconquest of Al Raqqa will be followed by the reconquest of Aleppo. That will be the ultimate victory of the Syrians, its army and its government.

Posted by: virgile | Jun 5 2016 1:24 utc | 26

@24 dumbass, 'I wonder whether the oligarchs have made some "mistakes" that will actually cost them'

Interesting to note the difference in perspective between the white folks and the black folk in the two part 'interview' of Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter by Chris Hedges. I'm with Ralph Poynter. White leadership is so twent-i-eth century. In the twenty-first century, in America as surely as around the world, black leadership, not white at any rate, will be what saves us. Or doesn't.

Posted by: jfl | Jun 5 2016 1:36 utc | 27

dumbass, Yes! Please dream! Dreams of what the world might be like are the only things to make us angry enough to fight for those dreams. Those who don't dream only trudge along filled with impotent resentment.

Posted by: Macon Richardson | Jun 5 2016 2:54 utc | 28

jfl at 24 Have you read articles by Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report. He's inspiring! As was Ali, Malcolm and MLK.

Posted by: Macon Richardson | Jun 5 2016 2:58 utc | 29

Re: Posted by: Cresty | Jun 4, 2016 4:43:44 PM | 11

I happen to agree any Chinese intervention is most probably a fantasy. Surely it is in the Chinese interest (or so they presume) to have Russia squeezed out of its dominance of the European gas market by Qatari pipelines through Syria to Europe for instance. That would obviously then make Russia increasingly dependent on China for their gas exports.

I point this out as this also shows up the other fantasy. Russia & Iran & Syria have comprehensively demonstrated over the past 6 months that they are simply not capable of returning the great majority of Syria to the Assad Govrnment and wiping out ISIS, al-Nusra etc. in the process.

It's been more than 6 months - they're simply not able to do this.

Posted by: Julian | Jun 5 2016 4:47 utc | 30

Re: Posted by: Jen | Jun 4, 2016 6:51:48 PM | 16

In fact what you say sounds absolutely like insufficient manpower if they can't wipe out all the takfiris and that includes the new takfiris supplied by US, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia etc.

I'll let you in on a little secret, there is not an infinite supply of takfiris to send to Syria. Do you believe they are simply conjured into being out of thin air? If it were so the conflict in Syria would already be over.

Posted by: Julian | Jun 5 2016 4:54 utc | 31

Re: Posted by: james | Jun 4, 2016 7:50:09 PM | 1

Have you seen The Night Manager? What you describe is pretty straight out of the script of that one.

Posted by: Julian | Jun 5 2016 4:58 utc | 32

Here's a thought… What is the number of indoctrinated Salafist crazies kicking about? It’s relatively tiny I would imagine. A war zone is the only place that one can kill them with impunity (and with the certainty that they have “declared” themselves by being there.)

Maybe this is the opportunity: you leave the rat lines open to reinforcements… So that they can then be eliminated en masse.

It’s a shitty choice but in the context of a world of shitty choices.

Posted by: Oddlots | Jun 5 2016 4:59 utc | 33


Posted by: radhaz | Jun 5 2016 5:32 utc | 34

Totally off topic.b has announced that Russia Insider is a fraud. He is right. I quite accidentally tried to post something there and found myself in some kind of maize that required me to provide information that was totally different from any site I have ever entered. Folks, avoid Russia Insider, it is a serious trap. They have more cookies and other types of worms that one could imagine.

It is too bad that Saker continues to allow his posts to show up there. Saker may be a real nut case in many respects but his serious analysis often hit the spot.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 5 2016 7:35 utc | 35

@33 yeah that's the cauldron strategy, which is probably an auxiliary strat from the West, as they don't want Assad to 'win', nor do they want Islamist terrorists in their country.

But Russia threw a monkey wrench in the works, and Turkey basically dropped the refugee bomb on West Europe, which may well be the start of a complete cultural revolution (and eventually WW3).

I hope Russia can eventually outmaneuver American meddling to the point that the cavalier neocon soft-war crap becomes nonviable, because Billary will probably be elected president

Posted by: aaaa | Jun 5 2016 7:36 utc | 36

a reconquest of Aleppo is getting more unlikely everyday.
Rebels not only made swift gains in southern Aleppo and Handarat, they inflicted heavy losses on loyalist troops.
It seems Jaish al Fateh is awash in TOWs and other ATGMs, which they not only fire - very succesfully - at tanks but also at artillery pieces, troop transporters, fortified positions and ammo depots, and increasinly also at single formations of 3-4 soldiers.
Going by many recent clips it seems the victims have no clue from where they are fired on, often exposing themselves and easily being targeted.
The loyalist troops lack the slightest battlefield overview and are apparently incapable of using drones to monitor the surroundings and detect ATGM shooters or approaching rebel formations, despite the latter often deploying groups big enough to be discovered.

Just look at these devastating clips to be assured that Aleppo will never be captured:

How stupid can these guys be?

Posted by: KerKaraje | Jun 5 2016 7:39 utc | 37

I think I'll have to go all the way back to dumbass@1 and agree with the notion of a trap. Not a trap R+6 necessarily set for Team Chaos, but one they are in nevertheless and are unable to extricate themselves quickly, willingly or easily from the pit. Putin peers over the edge every few weeks and asks if they need a hand, which they always refuse. Puting shrugs his shoulders and says, "OK. Well, good luck down there..."

I'll have to disagree with many that Russia was willing to let Syria be partitioned or didn't care one way or the other. A western or Alawite Syria with Damascus is simply not viable. Water, gas, oil and agriculture are all in what would be either Kurdistan or Sunnistan. A western Syria could not both recover from the war and rebuild any kind of economy without those resources. Russia knows that and would not let it happen, although I admit they send mixed signals at times. I know Russia has no intention of creating some kind of parasitic welfare state merely to claim Tartus. Putin stubbornly insists Assad (or whomever) stands on their own two feet and run the country.

What really cemented my idea of U.S. desperation and refusal to disengage are the latest Raqqa/Manbij campaigns. Great ideas, but the U.S. still doesn't have an army for either one. I still insist the SDF's YPG/YPJ will never set foot in Raqqa or Manbij. It's not their fight. They'll help US proxies get close, but that's it. Unfortunately, that's not enough. If the Kurds are not willing to fight and die to retake those cities, then it's just not going to happen.

The Arab SDF forces the US did manage to scrounge up seem to be a collection of power-seeking ex-FSA ideologues and a motley crew of displaced or unemployed Arab fighting-age men looking for some kind of job/life back in either city after they are liberated. The first group are reliable fighters, the second - well, not so much. The biggest problem with these Arab SDF forces are that it's up to them, alone, to take Raqqa and Manbij. This is maybe a few hundred for Raqqa (despite inflated claims otherwise) and even less for Manbij. They are only interested in 'their' cities, not the grander US schemes to retake all the Arab cities in northern Syria.

The original Manbij effort, if anyone recalls, started with Tishreen Dam months ago. THAT group was suppose to retake Manbij, remember? What happened? Well, nobody showed up. The few hundred Arab SDF were stretched far and thin and took casualties moving up from the dam. A few token Kurds and a handful of US SF or JTACS, but no YPG/YPJ. The entire effort stalled. CENTCOM quietly changed their tune and said that was only the first phase or some such nonsense.

So what's this second, current push? Maybe a hundred more Arab SDF guys crossing the Euphrates further north at the ruined Qarah Qawzaq bridge site. They did manage to ferry a couple of pieces of armor (APC and a light tank), and maybe a dozen or two technicals (pickups with anti-aircraft guns) across. US air strikes took out *some* of the Sajur River bridges so Jarabulus headchoppers would have difficulty joining the party, but the rest of the airstrikes ended up taking out laughable high-value targets like an ISIS pickup truck or a sniper position. In other words, they have no intel and no real air targets. It's a hundred door-kickers behind an APC looking for ISIS.

In the mean time, those ground forces have been inching along taking over tiny, half-deserted villages a few km from the river. This is suppose to be some kind of second, northern front to move on Manbij. The entire idea is preposterous - I doubt they'll even reach Manbij, much less be able to take it from a well-armed, heavily dug-in ISIS. On top of that, this second front already suffered a number of casualties and injuries from an ISIS car bomb. They're suppose to hook up with the refortified Tishreen Dam crew, but it's not clear that that has even happened. Not that it would make much difference - these guy are spread way to thin and vulnerable as hell. Even with the Tishreen crew, there is no way on earth a couple hundred guys with air cover are taking back Manbij.

Raqqa is even more of a non-starter. The current SDF campaign is actually the 'Northern Raqqa' campaign. The YPG/YPJ SDF is helping take back the little villages north of Raqqa, but then what? A force of a few hundred Arab SDF (ex-Raqqa Revolutionary Front) guys are going to somehow take back the ISIS capital? Really, CENTCOM? It's damn embarrassing (aside from being unconstitutional and treasonous).

Honestly, the longer Russia just sits and waits, the less credibility the U.S. will have among the ex-FSA Syrian Arabs and the Kurds. CENTCOM burns through time and equipment and maybe American lives, yet accomplishing nothing. Saudi Arabia and Qatar's support is increasingly meaningless as their proxy armies disappear in the sand. ISIS will eventually scurry back to Turkey, Jordan or Libya and be someone else's problem.

When the smoke clears, Russia will still be there to help Syria pick up the pieces. Team Chaos will be off to their next misadventure somewhere else.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jun 5 2016 7:46 utc | 38

some more - all from recent days:

The much I hate to say it: These are CLEAR hits on troops, but do we see anything comparable from the loyalist side? Any clear hits? Does RuAF film any aerial attacks like Nusra and co. dronetape their attacks and convincingly display their effectiveness?

Posted by: KerKaraje | Jun 5 2016 7:50 utc | 39

@26 sucks that it took the past few months of crap for Russia to come around. According to the forum, Iran kind of pushed Russia's hand by pushing ahead as Russia relented with the ceasefire nonsense.. or something.

Russian mentality seems to be a big problem for itself. Doing business with Russians is usually a nightmare, while doing business with Americans tends to be a generally pleasant experience. That can go a long way in geopolitical relations. Obviously American leadership will shake hands and backstab at the sametime, but Russia's managed to make almost every bordering country hate it to the point of being surrounded by NATO, so the general Russian mentality is not beyond reproach

Posted by: aaaa | Jun 5 2016 7:56 utc | 40

@39 these attacks were probably coordinated wtih Turkey and or USA as the resistance axis aimed to push west. They probably were operating with full recon assistance

Once again it highlights how stupid it was for Russia to pull the ceasefire crap,as it resulted in many deaths for the home team.

Posted by: aaaa | Jun 5 2016 8:02 utc | 41

Once again it highlights how stupid it was for Russia to pull the ceasefire crap,as it resulted in many deaths for the home team.
Posted by: aaaa | Jun 5, 2016 4:02:18 AM | 41

Since when did the success or failure of a military strategy rest solely on whether it instantly prevented any friendlies from being killed (during a war)? Killing the killers and their sponsors is the best long-term life-saving strategy for Syria. Beefing up the takfiri headchoppers when they thought no-one was watching was typical US-UK supremacist dumbfuckery writ large.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 5 2016 10:32 utc | 42

re 39

These are CLEAR hits on troops, but do we see anything comparable from the loyalist side?
The rebels spend their time making fake Youtubes. The government side doesn't. It's well known. So what were you trying to prove?

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 5 2016 12:51 utc | 43


"Doing business with Russians is usually a nightmare, while doing business with Americans tends to be a generally pleasant experience."

You bet! Just as pleasant experience as business with a vampire.

Posted by: virgile | Jun 5 2016 13:37 utc | 44

The Average American will continue to be fed a steady and increased diet of anti-Russian propaganda which belies reality and logic.

Do they have now - or can they be manipulated - propagandized to develop an appetite for a hot war with Russia? This is the next challenge for our psychotic neocon overlords.

Is Trump still saying lately (albeit couched verbiage) that he prefers diplomacy with Russia instead of war? Did that talk with Kissinger end that line of reasoning?

Are the EU countries being fed the same bullshit "news" as in the US?

Posted by: fast freddy | Jun 5 2016 13:38 utc | 45

An amazing Israel hasbara piece on its relationship with ISIS. In it, it admits trhat Israel has unleashed ISIS on Europe as punishment. The piece has been pulled from the Israeli source, so here is a backup.

Posted by: Heironymous Dosch | Jun 5 2016 13:57 utc | 46

@38 paveway

I think you're right on. The MSM makes a lot of noise, but the KSA/GCC/Turkey funded/armed contingents are falling down, when they're not fighting each other. Interesting to see if the Russians do now pick up the pace, as they've been telegraphing that they will. I'm sure the Syrians would be happy if they did, 'When will this all end?', must be uppermost in their minds.

Posted by: jfl | Jun 5 2016 14:12 utc | 47

umm, people seem to be confused or simply confusing the issues on purpose.

a)the battle for Syria(and a lesser degree, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon)is no less than a crucial battle between the forces supporting a multi-polar world and those in favor of a uni-polar one. this is where the 'line in the sand' is drawn.the outcome of the conflict now raging in the middle east(i'm talking about the countries mentioned above)will determine the projection of influence in the world for the next 100-200 years. Syria is hence the key piece here. If Syria falls, next will be Iraq..then iran, then the forces of evil will rage hell on Russia's 'soft' underbelly (the 'stans' countries) as well as the caucus regions. After Russia succumbs, China will be forced on her knees. Iran, Russia and china know this very well.

b)early this year, china did something quietly, yet unprecedented; they appointed a 'special representative ' to Syria crisis. The Chinese are involved behind the scenes coordinating with Russia on future moves regarding Syria; in support of the assad gov.
It's safe to say now that the manufactured crisis in the south china seas is a red herring created to keep china on one foot and away from militarily getting involved in Syria. China could very easily ship-drop 100-200k troops in Syria and overwhelm the place.If the u.s did so in Iraq w/ 500k troops in 2003, why cant china in Syria and check-mate the situation in the levant! But it is not yet time for 'check' move from will come at a later date when turkey and ksa and the u.s. nato get further drawn in to Syria and fall into a 'trap'. also as someone else stated, its not at all bad for the wahabi/salafi's to get drawn into a killing field in Syria so they don't end up on Russia and china's doorstep or beyond. So the ace card is still being kept close to the chest, so to speak.

c)Russia and china are ancient civilizations who wrote the book on international diplomacy and military tactics/doctrine. Add to this the Persians and you get the picture. they are not rash like anglo-Zionists are. so ppl, have faith, will ya.

d) the Syrian people, both Christian and muslim(Shiite/sunni) are united behind their army more than what has been reported or presumed. this does not bode well for the beheaders.

e)daesh and co. are caught between a rock and a hard place. infighting, the kurds, the saa and Hezbollah, the Russia aero-space force, saa airforce and the now finally mobilized Iraqi military and allies spells defeat for the u.s. and co. sponsored crazies in the not so distant future.

f)iran and Hezbollah: arm the Yemeni houthis and army, arm them, arm any and every way possible..with enough fire-power; these brave and fierce warriors are tougher than the Pashtuns and could make a serious break for inside territories of the Saudi kingdom if not straight to the capital. there is a reason the u.s military sent a bunch of special forces and advisors to Saudi allies in yemen. its because the situation is lost and out of control for the u.s Saudi's there.

g)thank you for taking the time to read my take on the situation, however strange it all probably sounds.he he.

Posted by: bored muslim | Jun 5 2016 14:38 utc | 48

Laguerre@43. Like this one.The modus operendi of NATO backed terrorist groups, commit shocking crimes, blame them on the Iraq/Syrian governments.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jun 5 2016 14:50 utc | 49

Syria has a long, porous border with Turkey. Any long term solution for Syria will have to come to terms with that issue. Perhaps Russia will leak weapons to Kurds in Turkey at a comparable rate to Turkey arming Sunnis in Syria?

Also, as long as the conflict is in current form, Iran and Russia remain on the same side in the region. What happens after the "Sunni Threat" is Syria is neutralized? Both nations have very different goals, cultures, and economies. Unlike George W Clinton and Hillary Bush.... Putin does not want to transform the politics on the ground without a clear plan as to a sane end-state. Keeping Syria solidly in Russia's sphere of influence versus losing out to an Iranian vision of the greater Shia crescent.

Posted by: Anonymous1 (A1) | Jun 5 2016 14:51 utc | 50

To be honest, Putin thought, maybe the Syrian army could do the job on its own after withdrawing some of his air force, that way the Syrian army could claim all the credit and ensure the West could not accuse Russia of propping up Assad. Unfortunately it is not just the head choppers Assad is up against, The US are still sending 1000's of tons of military equipment through Turkey paid for by Saudi Arabia, so it could be said that Syria is taking on The West including Israel, the GCC countries, and Turkey. A truly David versus Goliath fight. If more boots on the ground are required they are more likely to come from Iran, than China.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jun 5 2016 15:04 utc | 51

I said as much awhile back. It seems it took it bit longer for the penny to drop over here.

Posted by: Andy V | Jun 5 2016 15:09 utc | 52

I think "bored Muslim" is on to something. This is a long game with a great deal at stake. The Russia-Iran-Syria side may have more resources at their disposal than it seems. I think "bored Muslim" is closer to reality than the inverted neocons who frequently write to this site, regretting that Putin is not Hilary Clinton, believing there is an instant military solution to every problem.

Posted by: Roger Milbrandt | Jun 5 2016 15:25 utc | 53

@harrylaw (51)

I concur, there is no chance of Chinese troops.

Iranian troops could be moved to the theatre relatively quickly. The logistics to keep those troops in the field for a significant period of time are viable, but expensive.

If there is one thing Putin needs to avoid, it is large numbers of "Iranian boots on the ground" in Syria.

From Putin's perspective, Hezbollah is rather inconvenient as an Iranian funded/proxy force. Right now they are shooting Sunnis. However, who will they fight when that immediate enemy is no longer in the picture?

Posted by: Anonymous1 (A1) | Jun 5 2016 15:49 utc | 54

@32 julian - haven't seen the night manager... i don't watch tv or movies..

@38 paveway.. thanks for your post..

@48 bored muslim.. excellent commentary which i obviously agree with..

Posted by: james | Jun 5 2016 16:07 utc | 55

bm 48 - there is a reason the u.s military sent a bunch of special forces and advisors to Saudi allies in yemen. its because the situation is lost and out of control for the u.s Saudi's there.

I wonder what is makeup of the Saudi fighting forces. Could they be using filipino mercenaries? They use filipinos for everything else.

Posted by: fast freddy | Jun 5 2016 18:03 utc | 56

Re: Posted by: james | Jun 5, 2016 12:07:21 PM | 55

Just to provide context, The Night Manager is a (BBC I believe) 6-part series put out this year with the basic story-line of a British aristocratic fellow supplying weapons and arms to Syrian jihadis & head-choppers (but with this fellow posing as a great humanitarian providing humanitarian relief via humanitarian convoys), with the covert support of his friends in the Turkish military, US & UK Shadow Governments/ Spooks.

Basically sending weapons and arms to jihadis in Syria from his safe areas in southern Turkey - assisted of course by his friends in the Turkish/US/UK establishment.

Sounded very much like what you were describing.

In the show his operation is infiltrated by another branch of British intelligence and I guess you can get the rest. Turf Wars in Whitehall/Langley etc. and all that.

Posted by: Jules | Jun 5 2016 18:28 utc | 57

@54 What is 'good' for Russia isn't necessarily good for Syrians. Iran wants Syria to be whole, as a defeat becomes an existential threat to Iran, and will continue the humanitarian crisis of Syria. If Raqqa is taken by the American contingent, the country will be fractured for years, if not decades, and the existential threat of total Syrian annihilation by outside forces will continue unabated

Posted by: aaaa | Jun 5 2016 18:42 utc | 58

@57 jules.. thanks... sounds like reality..

1 minute vid - about paper with editor Can Dündar in jail while Cumhuriyet is either shut down or not being released in english online anymore as it had been.. i think the gov't took it over under dictator erdogans tutelage..

Posted by: james | Jun 5 2016 18:54 utc | 59

further to 59 this article appears to cover it well.

Posted by: james | Jun 5 2016 19:00 utc | 60

Here is the real question for Putin and Iran's leadership:

What are you going to do about Saudi, Turkey and Qatar?

This war will only end when those entities stop supporting Jihadists and they are only going to stop that when doing so causes them sincere pain

Posted by: Alaric | Jun 5 2016 19:07 utc | 61

This was a mistake from the get go to stop the bombing right before Aleppo fall.For Aleppo is the economical heart Of Syria .They wouldn't be any means to negotiate after its fall and the western powers fighting for Syria would have been in one way or another forced to give in.I understand that Russia has its own motivations behind this war but have she cared about the people dying in Syria and be smarter The situation would have been different as of now.Western defeat would have been clear for everyone.

Posted by: lebretteurfredonnant | Jun 5 2016 19:27 utc | 62

June 5, 2016 - You cannot make this stuff up ...

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign minister said Washington has asked Moscow not to target the al-Qaida's branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, but the U.S. insisted Friday that it only wants Russia to carefully select it targets to avoid hitting civilians and legitimate opposition groups.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner, speaking to reporters in Washington, said that Kerry had emphasized the need for Russia to carefully distinguish between the IS and Nusra and legitimate opposition units."

source -

Posted by: ALberto | Jun 5 2016 20:04 utc | 63

that's about the mostest bizarest looking convoy i've ever seen. damn, that's a lot of trux.

Posted by: john | Jun 5 2016 20:21 utc | 64

I think the email scandal has finished Clinton. Hopefully, in January a Sanders presidency can support an end to the Syrian war.

Posted by: Edward | Jun 5 2016 20:30 utc | 65

KerKaraje @ 39
It's interesting that the rebels don't wait for the dust to clear to show how many of the government forces were actually killed - TOW missiles are fitted with shaped charge warheads which are designed to project the force of the blast forward as a narrow jet of super-hot gas to penetrate armour rather than a conventional fragmentation blast designed to kill as many people as possible. So although the dust cloud looks spectacular I have to wonder how lethal it is. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't like to be that close to an exploding TOW warhead but I'm just not sure how lethal it would be.

Posted by: blowback | Jun 5 2016 21:06 utc | 66

Are the EU countries being fed the same bullshit "news" as in the US?
Reply to fast freddy at 45.

From the UK. Yes we are being fed the same lies as you are in the US. Put simply, 'you own us, we are your bitch'. The news media, including the once decent BBC, are all purveyors of UK gov bullshit and lies. The sheepie here ignore most stuff because they can't be bothered, but those who do listen believe the lies. Worries the hell out of me.

A perfect example is the lies Tony Blair told the UK (reason for war weapons of mass destruction). The Chilcot, so called, 'enquiry' has taken some 10 years to issue and still hasn't been issued... The system self protects its own.

Posted by: eric bloodaxe | Jun 5 2016 21:49 utc | 67

@67 From my limited knowledge (Guardian, BBC, Telegraph) I get the impression people like Corbyn, Farage and Johnson are being demonized at the same rate as Trump and Putin.

Posted by: dh | Jun 5 2016 22:07 utc | 68

@64 john... are you saying the supply convey video b posted is false? i'm curious.. thanks..

Posted by: james | Jun 5 2016 22:46 utc | 69

Some recent news posted at stating that the SAA has entered Raqqa province. Jules / Julian, whoever you are, should I still believe you about the SAA being unable to retake Raqqa because of insufficient manpower or should I believe what my eyes looking at Al-Masdar are telling me?

Syrian Army enters Raqqa after liberating the Zakiyah Crossroad, 47 km to Tabaqa: map

The Syrian Arab Army’s 550th Regiment of the 4th Mechanized Division and their allies liberated the strategic Zakiyah Crossroad at the Hama-Raqqa border on Friday after a violent battle with the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS). According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent in the region, the Syrian Armed Forces liberated almost 35 km of territory along the Salamiyah-Raqqa Highway in the last 48 hours, putting them just 47 km away from the Tabaqa Military Airport. ISIS has attempted to slow down the Syrian Army’s advance with several roadside bombs along the Salamiyah-Raqqa Highway; however, the engineering corps is working diligently to clear all IEDs (improvised explosive devices).

The 550th Regiment was not alone in their advance on Friday, they were backed by the Desert Hawks Brigade, National Defense Forces (NDF), Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), Galilee Forces (Palestinian paramilitary), and Syrian Marines.

SAA entry into Raqqa province confirmed here:

Posted by: Jen | Jun 5 2016 23:58 utc | 70

new post at sst - Is Russia About To Resume Its Campaign Against Al Nusra In Syria? by Willy B

Posted by: james | Jun 6 2016 0:19 utc | 71

also - can someone who has posting privileges at pat langs give him this document in relation to his request for a citation from annamaria on the bottom of this thread.. i guess pat lang is so ''old school'' doing a simple google search is beyond his grasp..

Posted by: james | Jun 6 2016 0:33 utc | 72

@38 pw, 'I still insist the SDF's YPG/YPJ will never set foot in Raqqa or Manbij. It's not their fight.'

Raqqa, OK, but I wonder what you make of the animation at South Front of the recent goings on around Manbij? Seems to show increasing activity this month. Isn't the entire north of Syria along the Turkish border of great interest to the Kurds?

Posted by: jfl | Jun 6 2016 0:36 utc | 73

Recently updated article in NOW: Why are rebel attacks against ISIS not successful?

Article focuses on issues rebels are having in Marea, Azaz and the Bab al-Salam crossing point. What I thought was particularly interesting were these couple of paragraphs near the end of the article:

...Moreover, some rebel groups have begun whispering about a conspiracy by the US to allow ISIS to take over areas controlled by the rebels so that the SDF can later advance and seize the areas from ISIS, which would avoid creating tension with Turkey. “The US-led coalition was aware of ISIS intentions, observing their reinforcements to this area for days without doing anything. The coalition’s planes did not engage when ISIS began attacking, which was something we could not understand. The US plan against ISIS has become clearer now, they want to allow ISIS to capture opposition areas so that the SDF can capture it later,” Colonel Ahmed Uthman, military commander of the Sultan Murad Brigade, said to Al-Modon. Although talk concerning a US conspiracy is a bit far-fetched, the SDF is definitely taking advantage of the rebel losses to advance and gain new areas. A deal was reportedly made between rebels and the Kurdish forces to handover the town of Shaykh Isa to the SDF in exchange for allowing civilians to cross from the ISIS-besieged town of Maraa through SDF-controlled areas into Azaz. It was also reported that the SDF told rebels in Maraa over the weekend to handover the town peacefully or threatened to seize it with US air support..."

Is there anyone else besides me that finds it easy to believe that the US has thrown the rebels under the bus in favor of the SDF as of late? I can see how the SDF is a good 'Plan B' for Syrian land theft since the FSA couldn't get the job done. That's why the whole CIA-corrupted PYD seems mighty dam suspicious to me. The Kurds - like everyone else on earth - would be far better off having nothing to do with our evil empire. I trust they are clever and skeptical enough to understand the tenuous position of being allied with the US for anything. As others here have pointed out though, the Kurds have little choice right now but to seek out these alliances for survival. It serves a purpose today, but they count on nothing for the future. They might be 'the rebels' being thrown under the bus by the US tomorrow for whatever reason.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jun 6 2016 0:49 utc | 74

@74 I suspect the 'rebels' gravitate towards whoever the US/Saudis are backing in any particular week.

Posted by: dh | Jun 6 2016 1:09 utc | 75

PavewayIV @74: "Sometimes backstabbing use used as a mere figure of speech, because the blows are delivered with heavy weapons rather than knives". Turkey and USA clearly have different favorites, and as Turkey was shelling American pets, Americans were not eager to help Erdogan. Why Turkey did not use enough howitzers to protect their precious but oxymoronic "safe zone" I do not know. Instead Turkey found time to send some troops on an excursion into Afrin Canton. If Erdogan had the benefit of his pets as a high priority, he would cut some deal with Kurds, like lifting the blockade of Afrin. And cut short on his fits of anger that American support SDF. But his top priority is his war with Kurds (or PKK related Kurds).

And you do not name your unit "Sultan Murad Brigade" if you want to cooperated with Kurds or their allies, and in general, if you do not want to look like Turkish puppet.

For a while, "Azaz enclave" made impressive progress against ISIS along the Turkish border, and surely with Turkish support. Howitzers can shell up to 20 miles away, far enough to support those gains. But you also need manpower, especially if ISIS is the opponent. And the fresh manpower and ample weapons, TOWs, vehicles etc. were delivered, but to attack SAA and allies. Seems that the success of rebels against ISIS was not the second priority for Erdogan but third at best. You cannot expect Turkish officer to complain against Erdogan, but the account is not really consistent. When ISIS attacked, there was, unexpectedly, no US air support, but why there was no Turkish air support of long range artillery support?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jun 6 2016 1:33 utc | 76

@74 paveway... from reading your link - nowmmedia site - looks like a propaganda site to my eyes - this from reading the top article on idlib rebels claim moved bases out of capital - quoting the white helmets and etc... sorry..

Posted by: james | Jun 6 2016 1:56 utc | 77

jfl@73 - Re: Nathan Ruser's South Front animation. I think that suffers from a little too much social media wishful thinking combined with CENTCOM's PR boys. They're showing the Qarah Qawzak forces meeting the Tishreen forces day one (June 1st) and ANHA is reporting this just happened today. So is an internet crowdsourcing analyst using tweets right or is a relatively tiny and unknown news agency affiliated with the PYD right? I don't mean to diminish Ruser's work - it's great to have anything like that. It's a good guess, but just not realistic given the forces involved. On a side note, Nathan has a bright future at CENTCOM: they do love their PowerPoints and an animated gif like this would make the command staff absolutely squeal with delight. (Trust me on this one, Nathan. A nice Florida gig and E-4 to start if you can prove PowerPoint proficiency to Votel).

If ISIS was actually defending the unpopulated areas, farms and little villages in the yellow areas, then the SDF wouldn't be claiming such gains for the little force they have fielded. If the SDF WAS encountering fierce fighting and were able to plough through that much territory in a few days, then that would be mighty damn impressive, but I don't believe they are. The air strike target quality tells me everything about the ISIS presence so far. SDF calls in air strikes to take out a pickup or two, then the SDF door-kickers go in. Ten hours later, they can 'claim' a 100 person village, but then what? Do they leave someone behind with an AK-47 and an RPG? Sorry, but the first Hilux with a crew of captagon-fueled jihadis is going to 'reclaim' the village for ISIS again if they want. I'm sure ISIS is a lot more worried about Manbij then Scratch Farm Junction or Billy Bob Mohammed's Chicken Farm in the middle of nowhere. Manbij or the first-ring towns around it are an entirely different matter.

"...Seems to show increasing activity this month..." - Yes, I agree. It's because the old Tishreen offensive stalled. This is Tishreen 2.0 with a side of Qarah Qawzak and a helping of fresh JDAMS. I wish them luck, but I doubt it's enough. I have little doubt the Manbij Military Council or whatever the ex-FSA guys are called WANT to retake the city, but I don't think the head-choppers want them to return. That's going to be a problem.

"...Isn't the entire north of Syria along the Turkish border of great interest to the Kurds?..." - That's certainly the impression one gets from the english versions of Kurdish media and western MSM outlets. The PYD (and their CIA handlers) will insist it all must belong to a unified Syrian Kurdistan. Problem is that an olive farmer from the middle of Kobane canton doesn't trust the corrupt PYD and damn sure isn't going to die for some sand 100 km away just for Kurdish bragging rights. He wants to kick ISIS out of Kobane and go back to his family and the burnt ruins of his olive farm. He will concede that it's important to close off the Turkish Corridor from ISIS, but it's not his damn job. Likewise, a unified Syrian Kurdistan would be nice, but he knows damn well that it will be run by US lapdogs and rich, corrupt Kurds - not olive farmers. Again, nothing he's willing to die for.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jun 6 2016 3:13 utc | 78

I initially thought that the 'rebel' action against ISIS around A'zaz - which seemed successful - was fake, that ISIS was handing over the territory to the 'rebels' so that they might hold it when the real ceasefire came after ISIS left for Libya. But now ISIS is taking back all the territory the 'rebels' took from them previously.

So perhaps it will be the same scenario, but from the east now. ISIS will dispatch Erdogan's guys and then fold before the SDF? The Kurds involved with the SDF are aligned with Barzani, aren't they? Aligned with the US. They're used to US betrayal. The Syrian Kurds are aligned with Russia, aren't they? They are the ones Russia wanted in Geneva?

Neither the Syrians, nor the Iraqis, nor the Iranians are particularly fond of Kurds, are they?

There're Kurds, and then there are Kurds ... depending on your point of view.

Posted by: jfl | Jun 6 2016 3:31 utc | 79

@78 pw. 'If ISIS was actually defending the unpopulated areas, farms and little villages in the yellow areas, then the SDF wouldn't be claiming such gains... '

Yeah. That was my thought. ISIS taking a fall, giving it up to the SDF and the US' Iraqi Kurds. ISIS is on the way out, it's a question of who fills the vacuum when they've gone to Syria, and/or the Central Asia 'stans.

Thanks for your insightful analysis. All I know is what I read on the internet.

Posted by: jfl | Jun 6 2016 3:41 utc | 80

when they've gone to Libya

Posted by: jfl | Jun 6 2016 3:42 utc | 81

Piotr Berman@76 - I mostly agree Piotr. Disclaimer: I'm no artillery guy, but 20 miles (32 km) is kind of a stretch for artillery support. 20 km is about as far as Turkish 155mm can reach, but accuracy is poor (relatively speaking) at that range. Something like 200m CEP if you can precisely locate a target that far out (difficult). Fine if you're dropping six dozen rounds on a fixed position, but relatively useless against disbursed mobile forces (other than for harassment). 30 km if they use a certain kind of shell called base-bleed (sort of a low-drag projectile) but accuracy is even worse with them. 40 km is about the limit for the Turk 155s if they used rocket-assisted projectiles, but those are expensive and I don't know if Turkey even has them. A band extending maybe 15 km into Syria would be plenty lethal if Turk 155mm Firtinas were near the border, but everyone beating on the Turkish FSA as of late seems to be aware of that and keeps their distance. You're right about Erdogan not figuring on a fight with ISIS - his Turkmen FSA are ill-equipped to go one-on-one against them with no air/artillery support.

Turkish air support is just not going to happen. After the Russian jet 'incident', I doubt any Turkish pilot would be insane enough to get anywhere close to the border. There's a few Russian S-400 crews with itchy fingers just waiting for some payback.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jun 6 2016 3:50 utc | 82

james@77 - It wasn't meant to be taken at face value. I'm aware the NOW News site is anti-Assad, pro-rebel propaganda (White Helmets, etc). Taking THAT into consideration, it's interesting that they would even publish the 'rumor' that their US buddies were using ISIS to remove rebel groups with the intention of sending in the SDF/Kurds later on to claim it for themselves.

I would expect rumors of some evil Russia conspiracy against the rebels, but not the US. NOW News is mildly critical of the US at times, but otherwise treats it with kid gloves (while suggesting the need for more TOWs). I would not expect such an overt suggestion (rumor or otherwise) of US scheming against the rebels. It strikes me as oddly out of place there, even though the author points out the conspiratorial nature. Why would he even bring it up?

If this were a pro-Assad, anti-Rebel site instead, then I would have paid little attention to similar rumors of some US anti-rebel conspiracy.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jun 6 2016 4:23 utc | 83

jfl@80 "...Thanks for your insightful analysis..." Thanks for the compliment, but honestly I just plagiarize most of this stuff right off of Pinterest. It's my go-to site for foreign affairs and other useful knowledge.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jun 6 2016 4:35 utc | 84

@83 paveway.. thanks for this and your other comments which i always appreciate.. yes, you make a good point. i got sidetracked, but it is a good one.. even rebels are questioning us involvement and strategy here.. that is interesting..

Posted by: james | Jun 6 2016 5:22 utc | 85

The only thing anyone cares about is Brexit vote, and whether Merkel will block Erodgan's extortion racket to hold back the flood of Syrian refugees, in return for $3B looted from EU taxpayers for Erdogan's private slush fund, and her promise of no-visa travel for 79,000,000 Turkish flooding into the EU for social welfare benefits, so collapsing the State. Merkel denied Georgia no-visa travel, and apparently Ukraine won't be allowed into the EU, they'll just be kept off at an arms-length, $35B in Kerry-Kohn Aid junk bond default interest looted from American taxpayers, and paid to the private IMF tax dodge elites.

In fact, you could make a very good case that 2016 is the Night of the Long Knives for Old World Western Civilization, morphing into a perverse Caliphate, while the Estados Unidos and Casa Blanca continue the systemic $4,000B a year looting debauche of the health and human services safety net for war profits,
morphing into a perverse Zionazimistan, setting up a dynamic where unlimited funds can be extorted from taxpayers for the EU-US National Security States, simply by unelected technocrat elites pounding out a daily 5 Minutes of H8 from US to EU and from EU to US. "Give us moar, or you'll end up like them."

No, I'm afraid everything is going exactly as planned. In that global conflagration, Syria is a rice tent poster child for the National Security State.

Posted by: Roitan | Jun 6 2016 5:41 utc | 86

A good article (new) from Wladimir van Wilgenburg published in The Daily Beast (Hillary Approved). He's affiliated with the Jamestown Foundation (old-line conservatives still fighting the cold war). I find van Wilgenburg's coverage of Iraqi Kurdish affairs detailed and fair - even if a bit too easy on Barzani. Understandable because van Wilgenburg is based in Erbil. He headed out to Syria for this report. He describes a much more significant YPG presence in the Manjib Op than I am speculating about:

BATTLE LINES06.05.16 2:58 PM ET
On the Front Line in the Bloody Fight to Take Manbij From ISIS
Who is really taking the lead in this battle? Arabs? Kurds? American Special Forces? The fog of war is complicated here by the fog of politics.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jun 6 2016 6:21 utc | 87

james @ 69

are you saying the supply convey video b posted is false

no james, i'm not prepared to say that...just something about the clonal tonality of all those trucks suggests cardboard, but i suppose it's just the resolution lost in those grainy, nebulous images from SkyCam inc.

Posted by: john | Jun 6 2016 9:01 utc | 88

My posts are not posting. For what reason?

Posted by: V. Arnold | Jun 6 2016 9:59 utc | 89

@87 pw

Wladimir claims ISIS is not going to take a fall. We'll see soon enough.

Posted by: jfl | Jun 6 2016 13:49 utc | 90

Russia to provide active support for Syrian army to prevent terrorists from seizing Aleppo

MOSCOW, June 6. /TASS/. Russia's military grouping in Syria will provide active air support for the Syrian army to prevent terrorists from seizing Aleppo, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday.

Also more on the Turkish border ...

Posted by: b | Jun 6 2016 15:03 utc | 91

@87 paveway.. thanks for the link/story by Wladimir van Wilgenburg.. i recall you talking about him before.. what i don't understand is how they hold manjib, assuming they get it from isis.. the kurds can help, but unless the kurds want to hold onto it, i don't see how it holds..

@88 john.. thanks.. i hear what you are saying and i agree the resolution of the video doesn't help.. it is one hell of a build up of a convey if it's real..

Posted by: james | Jun 6 2016 15:50 utc | 92

@86 I'm thinking real estate in USA is going to boom over the next few years, thanks to spooked wealthy European immigrants bringing their money and high-level skills.

I'll take it!!

Posted by: aaaa | Jun 6 2016 16:14 utc | 93

Unidentified jet crashes near Aleppo

Probably a Turkish jet that was providing air cover for the rebels.

Posted by: Les | Jun 6 2016 16:39 utc | 94

It is no wonder that the US is not taking russia serious!!

US takes russia to river for a walk and then brings her back thirsty and Russia keeps falling for that BS over and over. It is about time for Putin to hold his coconuts and put on a serious fight.

Posted by: shoes | Jun 6 2016 18:31 utc | 95

The news from Veterans Today via ALberto regarding SAA + allies race to Raqqa to prevent the CIA and their terrorist from establishing air support facility in the airbase in Taqba may be confirmed by recent declaration of the (anti)Polish (Khazarian origin) MoD Maciarewicz about sending 4 Polish F16 and unspecified number of special ops to Syria soon "to help the US fight ISIS", of course without asking the Syrian government for permission.

The Polish puppet government has also started to lock up anti-NATO dissidents:

NATO arrests Mateusz Piskorski, the Polish Leader of the Opposition

Posted by: ProPeace | Jun 6 2016 22:14 utc | 96

The Syrian attack upon Raqqa: I would imagine that it's a column of Toyota half-cabs with cannon on the back advancing on the hard road from Palmyra through Rusafa to Tabqa. Like any desert movement, the issue will only come when they approach the defended point. Will that be before Tabqa?

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 6 2016 23:15 utc | 97

About "Polish opposition leader" that was arrested: on one hand, there is a very small splinter movement, of which he was a leader, so the phrase is a bit misleading. On the other hand, people were wondering how the heck it was possible for him to be a "spy" given his perfectly overt pro-Russian activity. Piskorski had no access to any secrets. There is a more general problem of all major or even middling political parties being "pro-American", while the sentiment is not all that general. For example, those who are more xenophobic, of which there are many, tend to hate Ukrainians, at least the nationalistic Ukrainians who like Bandera. Lastly, the current regime is not particularly a puppet, more like loose canon.

Most sadly, compared to "victator" Orban of Hungary, while having similar anti-democratic attitudes, the current Polish government is pretty stupid.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jun 7 2016 19:53 utc | 98

I admit I know nothing about the history of the Kurds, but this new Syrian Girl video hangs together well:

Posted by: RudyM | Jun 8 2016 13:01 utc | 99

Russia has to accept the fact that this doesn't end until US regime change. Israel and Saudi may not be as bold if a Nationalist, noninterventionist is in the White House.

Posted by: Russell Shaver | Jun 8 2016 13:18 utc | 100

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