Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 08, 2016

Syria - Waiting For The Next Moves

We had expected a Syrian Army "Election Campaign", a large size attack on Al Bab or east-Aleppo. That did not happen despite the right "assets" being in place and I have heard no reason yet why it was delayed. The Russian aircraft carrier group, which was expected last Friday along the Syrian coast, will only arrive this evening. It must have intentionally slowed its travel. There has been no single Syrian or Russian airstrike on east-Aleppo in last 21 days. "Rebel" shelling of west-Aleppo has not stopped for a day and caused many casualties. That will now change. One Russia source claims the Russian fleet will engage immediately. NOTAMs, NOtices To Air Men, about imminent operations on Syria's west-coast have been released. The declared areas and times of operation correspond to a campaign, not a single strike.

After some 12 days of fighting, the second large al-Qaeda campaign to break the siege on east-Aleppo by attacking the south western side of west-Aleppo completely failed. While the first round nearly achieved a break through but was then contained the second attack was only a alibi attempt which never made any progress towards its claimed aim. The Syrian army has recaptured the housing project 1070 and will soon have cleaned all other areas that were shortly in the hands of the Jihadis. The loss in material and men for the Jihadis were immense. The Syrian army has finally learned how to defend against suicide vehicle bombs: have adequate weapons ready in the front line to kill them on their approaches. Of nearly 20 such bomb runs only 3 or 4 reached their targets and losses from those were less sever than from earlier bombs. The Jihadis and their "western" media and "expert" proxies seem to have given up on east-Aleppo. There is no sign that another break through attempt will be launched.

The Obama administration has announced a campaign to encircle Raqqa in center-east Syria. It bought help from the Kurdish YPG to achieve that and has thereby excluded a Turkish campaign. The taking of Raqqa is supposed to be left to some Arab troops in cooperation with the Kurds. But those Arab troops do not yet exist and hiring and training has not even begun. The whole announcement of the beginning of a Raqqa campaign was obviously not serious. The Kurds will take a few small towns and the U.S. will temporarily protect them from sever Turkish interference in their areas in Syria. Raqqa will not be attacked before next years spring.

The Turks are now miffed (though silently relieved) that they were not asked to take part in the Raqqa campaign. They have been promised that they may help to "develop a long-term plan for seizing, holding and governing Raqqa". That means exactly nothing. But the Turks never had a real chance to go and take Raqqa. It is too far from their borders and the imponderables are too big.

In the area around Damascus the Ghouta rebel hold out has been split and reduced to small kettles which will be eliminated within a few days. The Syrian capital is safe for now and its people can live a rather normal life without fear of being killed in the next minute by some random grenade. A significant number of troops will become available when all the small rebel areas around the capital are gone. Those can be used in future campaigns. The frontline strength of the Syrian army in critical areas will increase and its maneuver force will become more powerful and efficient.

The momentum in all of west Syria is on the side of the Syrian government. The Jihadists are more and more concentrated in Idleb governate and city. When the surrounded hold outs in its back are eliminated the Syrian army can launch an assault on them. The east is complicate. Deir Ezzor is still surrounded by ISIS and will likely be attacked again soon. Reinforcements for the defenders would be welcome.

The Kurds are playing games and change alliances every now and than. For the time they again bet on the U.S. - a hope that has already been disappointed several times. The U.S. will let them fall as soon as it is convenient. The Kurds will learn again that such a policy does not bear tasteful fruits. There is a common Turkish and Syrian interest in cutting them back to size. In a year from now we may see new surprise alliances in that area.

All the positive developments we have seen especially in west-Syria may be for naught if a new U.S. president decides to throw up the chess board and risk World War III by attacking Syrian and Russian positions. Its about the most stupid thing Washington could do and has thereby a good chance to happen. I hope that the Pentagon will lecture the politicians of the very real consequences such a move would have.

Posted by b on November 8, 2016 at 17:12 UTC | Permalink


thanks for your analysis and insight b.. much appreciated.. i agree with your last paragraph strongly..

Posted by: james | Nov 8 2016 17:16 utc | 1

The Pentagon attack on Deir-e-zor killing hundreds of Syrian soldiers to facilitate the Daesh attack on Syrian govornment positions was also stupid and made the US position in this war public. Would stupid teach stupid how to act wise? I don't expect the Kuznetsov to leave very soon.

Posted by: prez | Nov 8 2016 17:35 utc | 2

Could NATO be about to pounce elsewhere?
Russia hacking election machines has been well punted.

Posted by: david | Nov 8 2016 17:36 utc | 3

All the positive developments we have seen especially in west-Syria may be for naught if a new U.S. president decides to throw up the chess board and risk World War III by attacking Syrian and Russian positions. Its about the most stupid thing Washington could do and has thereby a good chance to happen. I hope that the Pentagon will lecture the politicians of the very real consequences such a move would have.

Perhaps finally then, after the war that Hillary started, the same idiots will understand?

Posted by: Zoom | Nov 8 2016 17:45 utc | 4

We had expected a Syrian Army "Election Campaign", a large size attack on Al Bab or east-Aleppo. That did not happen despite the right "assets" being in place and I have heard no reason yet why it was delayed.

Well, maybe you did, but Putin has declared repeatedly that Russia has no plans to re-take east Aleppo and will continue abiding by a Russian-imposed ceasefire that no one observes. As the RT journalist Murad Gazdiev reports: "There has not been a single Syrian or Russian airstrike on East Aleppo in 21 days. Rebel shelling has not stopped for a day." According to reports from both Gazdiev and the Russian military, the Admiral Kuznetsov was not deployed to Syria to conduct operations inside east Aleppo and will be banned from doing so:

"However, the upcoming massive attack won't have any opportunity to resume Aleppo offensive, a source told"

It's become increasingly tiring watching b depict developments in the most favorable light imaginable for the Syrian Army (against all precedent), and whitewash/outright ignore Russian inaction & overt capitulation with NATO. There has been no 'shifting' alliance for the Kurds, who have remained faithful to NATO from Day 1. Nothing has changed on that front, and b's efforts to cast them as independent actors pursuing their own interests is absurd. He continues to make baseless assertions that are never corrected & acknowledged when they never materialize (remember how Turkey was gonna ally with Russia & stop supporting the jihadists?). Phil Greaves on Twitter offers a much more sober, critical and less naive analysis of the situation.

Posted by: Mark | Nov 8 2016 17:59 utc | 5

b - "...Its about the most stupid thing Washington could do and has thereby a good chance to happen. I hope that the Pentagon will lecture the politicians of the very real consequences such a move would have..."

Do you mean the U.S. Pentagon? The administration (Obama, et. al) has been a half-decade long purge of anyone that opposes a neocon-only version of U.S. foreign policy. It's so bad that people are quitting/retiring early to extricate themselves from that mindless cesspool. There are no shortage of neocon sycophants and yes-men to fill their shoes.

The U.S. Pentagon - and its mini-me: NATO - are the single biggest threat to peace the world today. It is more of a threat to the world than either of its bastard children: al Qaeds and ISIS. There will be no 'cooler heads' prevailing on defense policy in Syria. The U.S. Pentagon has been groomed to start WW III, not prevent it. They will attack Syrian and Russian troops at the drop of a hat when Clinton gives the orders.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 8 2016 18:08 utc | 6

The Russians appear about to attack the jihadis in West Aleppo governate in the next 24hrs,

Story in Russian:

This seems plausible as the SAA is attacking West from West Aleppo and making progress, and the jihadis will be trying to regroup. There are stories that some Russian bombing is going on there now.

I don't think we will abandon the Kurds because they represent our seat at the table in the negotiations to come. It we get another Syrian client, we might be willing to dump them again, but at present we seem pretty unpopular outside of Rojava. I think you are right about their loyalty to our agenda.

I think in E. Aleppo they will just starve them out, As some guy on reddit said, they will just keep opening the corridors from time to time, until they give up.

Posted by: bemildred | Nov 8 2016 18:21 utc | 7

Mark, Tom, Paul, etc. As they say in India: "Same same, but different"..

Posted by: Lozion | Nov 8 2016 18:37 utc | 8

why the delay?... Putin is very sensitive to western PR, not because it is substantial, but because it is a pre-text for actions that may be directed against Russia. I see the delay as side-stepping the possible blowback in PR and on the election (against Trump) should Russia have taken more aggressive action earlier.

East Aleppo is puzzling, but appears to be exactly the same as what was allowed to work itself out around Damascus. It seems Russia has an aversion to involving its airforce in densely urban areas - and once secured by the Syrian army leaves them for the locals to grind out. This may be a convenient way to avoid the PR storm of war crimes to which it is very sensitive as it is a cousin to the R2P excuse used for Nato intervention these days.

The Kurds have shown a remarkable ability to refuse to take sides in all of this, the deals that are made are far more logistical than strategic - by that I mean they will take the help proffered by any hand that offers... and even if they shake hands, they do the same for anyone who is a "guest" - at least for the first three days. Friends, on the other hand are greeted with a kiss, the longer the friendship, the more the kisses. There has never been any kissing between Syrian Kurds and western forces of any kind.

Posted by: les7 | Nov 8 2016 18:39 utc | 9

I followed the flotilla on Marinetraffick and they were anchored off the eastern coast of Crete for 3 daysm surrounded by NATO warships (from a safe distance) and then they suddenly went full steam ahead and reached the point were they are now (between the northern tip of Cyprus and Latakkia) in under 24 hours.

Posted by: mikh | Nov 8 2016 18:50 utc | 10

I agree with les7 that the delay by the Russians is related to the US (s)election. I will go so far as to say that when Russia resumes its intervention it will be colored by which of the "proclaimed" presidential winners comes out on top.

Thanks for the summary and analysis b.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 8 2016 19:02 utc | 11

les7@9 - "I see the delay as side-stepping the possible blowback in PR and on the election (against Trump) should Russia have taken more aggressive action earlier."

The problem with PR blowback is that the U.S. was counting on that. Since Russia is not bombing east Aleppo, the U.S. can't clog the intertubes with White Helmet nonsense.

Heres' what Russia is forced to consider in the PR war with the U.S. State Department. It's from Iraq and directed to inflame Shia/Sunni tensions.

First, look at the last/bottom two photographs and captions in this Associated Press article in the Telegraph from 31 Oct 16. Note that it depicts the site of a 'deadly' car bomb in Hurriyah, Iraq at a 'fruit and vegetable market' that killed 10 and wounded many. OH! The HORROR!

Then take a look at security cam footage taken just prior to the horrific Associated Press massacre:

Oops! The U.S. war of PR terror goes on. Russia just wanted a breather in Aleppo. They know the U.S. will do ANYthing to save their terrorists stuck in east Aleppo. The bombing halt doesn't prevent that, it simply delays it until after Hillary is crowned. Russia has no illusions about what will happen with her in command. I expect a rather vigorous east Aleppo bombing campaign to resume shortly.

In the mean time, U.S. soldiers (in non-combat roles?) are being killed in Mosul, but all news of this is roundly censored by western MSM. I expect some kind of meager explanation, i.e, "We're looking into it," from White House spox Kirby next week.

Kirby: "I'm sorry, Matt... that's all the information I have at the moment and we'll let you know as soon as we find out anything more. Now shut up or they'll find you in your garage tomorrow - another tragic victim of a nail-gun suicide. You wouldn't want that to happen, would you Matt? Of course not. Now shut up and write what we tell you. That's your damn job, newsboy."

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 8 2016 19:03 utc | 12

"Its about the most stupid thing Washington could do and has thereby a good chance to happen."

the comic tragedy that is America

Posted by: pA | Nov 8 2016 19:25 utc | 13

b, as always I enjoy reading your analysis of current situations. Like me you are sometimes incorrect. That is part of being human.

Posted by: ALberto | Nov 8 2016 19:27 utc | 14

@12 paveway.. your last paragraph... kirby, toner and trudeau have become so pathetic in their 'daily usa press briefing' denials, it's embarrassing to watch.. i can't anymore, although i was patient and tried for a number of months.. the constant lies, obfuscation and full on propaganda coming from their lips is too depressing to stomach anymore..

Posted by: james | Nov 8 2016 19:29 utc | 15

If one were to look at a map of the Middle East then one could not help but notice that Russia has a large percentage of its portable offensive weaponry right on the doorstep of

It starts with an I

Hint it is not Iran nor is it Iraq

Quite frankly the message could not be clearer

Just me opinion

Posted by: ALberto | Nov 8 2016 19:32 utc | 16

Here's an alternative explanation for the Russian ceasefire: They're trying to siphon out of E. Aleppo as many terrorists as possible and direct them to Idlib where they can be dealt with at some future date. It is impossible to entice anyone out of EA if the place they're directed to is being bombed. Ergo a ceasefire where the options are death in a few weeks (EA) when bombing resumes in earnest, or "live to fight another day" by exiting to the relatively calm Idlib.

That was yesterday. Today the Russians are bombing the crap out of Idlib so they must have made the determination that every terrorist that was going to leave EA had done so. Open season.

Cannily, decreasing the terrorist number in EA was the driver (with added PR benes). The ceasefire/siphon tactic probably did what it was supposed to do. From this perspective the Russian-SAA decision makers seem to know their craft well.

Posted by: ritzl | Nov 8 2016 19:41 utc | 17

Govern with Turkey on Sovereign Syrian Soil !Invasion under the Pretext of Helping!

Posted by: ALAN | Nov 8 2016 19:53 utc | 18

Mark | Nov 8, 2016 12:59:05 PM | 5
It's become increasingly tiring watching b depict developments in the most favorable light imaginable for the Syrian Army

While I often disagree with b's broad strategic picture, this report here gives an adequate take of the military situation. The SAA is about to win the decisive "Epic Battle for Aleppo", and after that I predict we´ll see the (slow) separation of the part of rebels who understand they cannot win from those who prefer the 72 virgins ...

And now the SAA doesn´t halt, news from ~1 hour ago:
Colonel Suheil Al-Hassan: The Northern Tempest has begun and it will swallow every terrorist in Aleppo and its countryside.

les7 #9
Putin is very sensitive to western PR, not because it is substantial, but because it is a pre-text for actions that may be directed against Russia

I really wonder if that is the reason. I mean, the US could create any propaganda pretext out of nothing (new Ghouta massacre?), but large portions of the Western public will resist the call to war. It´s a lot of noise but fortunately without consequence.
It´s true the Russians have stepped up the blame-game about civilian casualties. I prefer to take it as dry Russian humour, meant to expose Western double standards ... with the aim of rattling the Western narrative further.

Posted by: Qoppa | Nov 8 2016 20:33 utc | 19

The Kuznyetsov Stike Force, there to provide spectacular celebratory fireworks on the 9th of November and dedicate the liberation of East Aleppo to Madam President Elect.

Congrats, US f****ards!

Posted by: Quadriad | Nov 8 2016 20:47 utc | 20

So far here is my (tentative) list of present Russian naval forces off or en route to the Syrian Coast:

-Carrier Amiral Kuznetsov
-Battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy
-Cruiser Varyag
-Destroyer Kulakov
-Destroyer Severomorsk (no wiki link)
-Frigate Admiral Grigorovich
-Various supply ships and tugs.
-Possibly 2 or more Oscar II type submarines

Thats a helluva lot concentrated firepower..

Posted by: Lozion | Nov 8 2016 21:06 utc | 21

The situation is Mosel seems to have been poorly anticipated. There are I heard 1.6 million civilians in the city and only 30,000 (about) civilians have fled (and many are not availing themselves of government camps -- either trust level too low or they have other resources, saw report some are living in holes in the desert floor, so suspect the former).

ISIS of course if not permitting them to leave, but this attack has been forewarned for at least a year, with vast announcement of plans for said refugees and newly displaced, etc. etc.

I think the 1.6 million is almost double the civilian population they would have to "protect" while also ousting ISIS ...

I initially thought that surrounding Raqqa was to prevent ISIS fleeing Mosul from finding safety or at least accommodations, since the relocation of Mosel's ISIS fighters to Raqqa would be a long-time predictable outcome of any siege and a PR disaster ...

The NYT said that the project of encircling Raqqa had been in progress for a long time and that any sort of siege of Raqqa was months and months off. They might be trying to avoid suggestion that they were indifferent to the migration of ISIS fighters and/or that they were attempting to define Raqqa (and it's eventual "liberation" or whatever) as American "turf" -- as someone suggested earlier -- and seems likely.

Does give the press corp some new venue to report from.

I've been impressed over the years at how few named "rebel leaders" (possible post-Assad political players) have been named and how poorly-defined the crazy quilt of unnamed militias remains (likely intentional, however, in contrast, the various warlords of Afghanistan had names and defined territories, alliances and histories early on). (Making the sudden appearance of these anti-Assad, pro-democracy civilian "voices" conspicuously without context ...

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Nov 8 2016 21:21 utc | 22

The point about the "attack" on Raqqa was that it was a diversion, to take Da'ish's attention away from Mosul. I have no evidence as to whether it worked.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 8 2016 21:22 utc | 23

To my eye it seems that we witness a perfect series of classical motorized infantry/combined air strategy operations within a brilliant over-arching Theater Strategy. This itself seems to suggest the nature of (and the existence of!) an agreed Grand (global) Strategy. The pressure was put to the criminal mercenaries and they are vastly weakened, while the (un-named western sponsor) forced "reinforcements toward the Allepo cauldron and also many criminal mercs "escaped" to - guess what? Another cauldron (Idlib). These are modern operations, yes, of course, but also classical combined plains warfare very similar to and reminiscent of conflicts we know only from myth as well as Red Army Campaigns against, ah, similar agents.

The timing of the dash? (see Mikh, P-10, above) I'll quote him: "I followed the flotilla on Marinetraffick and they were anchored off the eastern coast of Crete for 3 daysm surrounded by NATO warships (from a safe distance) and then they suddenly went full steam ahead and reached the point were they are now (between the northern tip of Cyprus and Latakkia) in under 24 hours."

I can add that the A. K blows heavy oil smoke and the "west" seems to expect that the ship is about to sink from decay... I saw a claim that A. K was suffering from main propulsion failure. (This is nonsense - Steam Turbine warships have "bullet-proof" main power. - but Ivan may have "faked-out" their NATO "escorts". Then, sleepy-eyed, the NATO commanders had to make haste to keep up? So I bet, but do not know. Anyway I bet they needed to change their shorts...

Obviously the timing coordinated with Large Global Events - it's strategy! How else? US Ritual Coronation is such an event. I would bet a dollar that the action starts at 00:01 9 November US East-coast Time... But only a dollar..

Posted by: Delmar | Nov 8 2016 21:25 utc | 24

Well, it's been a mess. I thought it was a pretext for a pre-election attempted assassination of al-Baghdadi ... but then they announce he was "really" in Mosul and then the next day announced he had "fled" Mosul (after encouraging ISIS fighters to stay and fight ... if it was really him, and/or a contemporary recording).

No Americans care, although if they'd droned Baghdadi it would have resulted in Zero-Dark-30 like celebrations ... I doubt many in ISIS were distracted much, but again, I can't even tell how big or ongoing this is... (the predictions that Mosul was going better and faster than could have been imagined seemed ridiculous then and pathetically political now)

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Nov 8 2016 21:32 utc | 25

Hey can someone tell me where is John Kerry......lots happening in the Mediterranean and he's mia.....maybe voting....

Posted by: notlurking | Nov 8 2016 21:49 utc | 26

PavewayIV | Nov 8, 2016 2:03:19 PM | 12
That was a propaganda exercise but it was directed to persuading people that all the car bombings in Iraq are false flag operations by the Shia. Does the acted scene make any sense unless it was videoed? Have you seen any video of the event recorded from another position? No? Neither have I, so it looks like the acting was done to be recorded by the security camera alone.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 8 2016 21:59 utc | 27

@26 Antarctica. I'm not kidding.

Posted by: dh | Nov 8 2016 22:01 utc | 28

mikh | Nov 8, 2016 1:50:56 PM | 10
The Russian ships seem to have gone dark as I can see no sign of them on marinetraffic. or is there an option to show military vessels?.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 8 2016 22:10 utc | 29

Notlurking @ 26:

Latest news is that John Kerry is visiting McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott research stations in Antarctica. These are US science research posts run by the National Science Foundation.

In case no-one believes me:

He voted in his home state Massachusetts before he left.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 8 2016 22:12 utc | 30

The 'democratic' empire wil strike? can dream on!!!

Posted by: Nur Adlina | Nov 8 2016 22:21 utc | 31

david @3

Ukraine and Transnistria are good bets.

Ukraine military aircraft have been reported flying towards Novorossia.

The US has pressed Ukraine and Moldova into offering Russia 'safe passge' out of Transnistria for its peace-keeping troops based. The Russian response is expected to be 'piss off'.

Lozion @21

Colonel Cassad has more details

Operations are expected to start on 10 November.

Fleet details:

The aircraft count for the Kuznetsov is based on aircraft seen on deck. The carrier has storage capacity for 40 aircraft. I expect there are a lot more Ka-52s in the hangars.

Posted by: Yonatan | Nov 8 2016 23:05 utc | 32

Lozion, what sort of creep are you?

Posted by: paul | Nov 8 2016 23:12 utc | 33

Does an unannounced trip to Antarctica count as "bugging out" to the southern hemisphere to avoid nuclear fallout....or has she really made everyone crazy?

Another topic: is there any substance to the reddit thread that Podesta and his creepy brother match the 'persons of interest' sketches from when Madeline McCann was kidnapped? The thread says they really were traveling in Portugal at the time. And that he scrubbed those two weeks from his email. Is the Murdoch press covering this in the UK? If true, it makes me believe there in a G_d. She really knows how to pick an inner circle.

Posted by: S.H.E. | Nov 8 2016 23:17 utc | 34


Is Kerry bunkering up at McMurdo and Scott-Amundsen?

Well, his timing is impeccable:)

Posted by: Copeland | Nov 8 2016 23:18 utc | 35

@Zoom 4

"I hope that the Pentagon will lecture the politicians of the very real consequences such a move would have. Perhaps finally then, after the war that Hillary started, the same idiots will understand?"

The US generals are fool enough to think they can win a nuclear war!!! Then again they are not literate in nuclear science. For a dire assessment of the nuclear winter aftermath following such a war see:

Be prepared … nut cases are running the world.

Posted by: Krollchem | Nov 8 2016 23:20 utc | 36

@35 All part of the plan. Kerry is keeping a watchful eye on Russian Antarctic activities.

Posted by: dh | Nov 8 2016 23:21 utc | 37

David @3

FUrther shit stirring:

Polish President Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash in 2010. The Polish media have just released reports saying traces of TNT were discovered in the plane. Watch out for western MSM stories that 'Putin done it' and Russia should be declared a state sponsor of terror.

Posted by: Yonatan | Nov 8 2016 23:25 utc | 38

Of course, it would be nice to have something significantly different to say about what is going on in Syria, but that is really up to Putin. Putin just keeps playing the same game, it seems - draw out the war, with an eye towards the ultimate negotiations and carve up. He's looking to be part of a Big Deal.

If Putin isn't controlled opposition to the Hegemon, he's simply a neoliberal who wants a seat at the Big Table. He loves palling around with folks like Erdogan and Netanyahu. I think that says a lot about what kind of soul he has, to use Bush's quaint manner of speaking. Personally I don't think he has a soul. He gets a thrill out of being a deal maker and he enjoys a nice long game of chess. Sociopath. No real human empathy.

The meat grinder will continue.

Posted by: paul | Nov 8 2016 23:28 utc | 39

Putin wasn't president in 2010, was he?

Posted by: lysias | Nov 8 2016 23:38 utc | 40

Antarctica is probably as safe as it gets if there's a nuclear war.

Posted by: lysias | Nov 8 2016 23:39 utc | 41

Secretary of State is on a visit to Antarctica on election day and on the eve of a major Russian offensive in Syria?

Posted by: Lozion | Nov 8 2016 23:56 utc | 42

Ghostship@27 - "...Have you seen any video of the event recorded from another position? No? Neither have I, so it looks like the acting was done to be recorded by the security camera alone..."

I agree. So was there, in fact, an 'outdoor market' bombing that killed 10 anywhere in Baghdad at all? Was that a lie made up to stir up the Shia? Or was the video meant to sour western opinion even more on the Shia? I don't even care anymore - the point is that Reuters, AP and various Arab news services dutifully propagated a suspicious report without doing even the most basic of investigation or fact-checking. Despite the appearance of the video, neither wire service nor Arab media (with a couple of exceptions) has retracted their story or at least called attention to the video since their initial reports of the bombing. No news outlet has bothered to offer an alternate location (initially reported) where this 'popular vegetable market' was located. It's a daisy-chain of lairs and lazy 'journalists' citing unnamed Iraqi police and publishing images from locations inconsistent with the story. Was this whole event and subsequent 'security cam' video meant to discredit the Shia? Well, Bellingcat was all over it, so that rates an automatic 'everything is fake' in my book. Not that it surprises me in the least.

I never believed anything that came out of Iraq since 2001, the year Bush finished Goebbelizing U.S. media. I'll never believe a word of what comes out about Mosul from western MSM. All of it has been sanitized for our consumption.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 9 2016 0:12 utc | 43

@32 Txs Yonathan. Looks like I was maybe wrong about the Varyag though I read it was already in Tartous..
@33 Paul. The kind that can smell multiple handle single IP user's..

Posted by: Lozion | Nov 9 2016 0:17 utc | 44

TEHRAN (FNA)- Sources in the Russian Defense Ministry disclosed that the country’s aircraft carrier group is ready to launch a strike targeting terrorists in the province of Aleppo in the next 24 hours.

The source told Russia’s Gazeta that the attack, which will likely engage Kalibr cruise missiles, will target militants outside Aleppo, and not the residential areas, Sputnik reported.

Posted by: ALberto | Nov 9 2016 0:22 utc | 45

Good article, thanks b.

Guess we'll soon see what that aircraft carrier (group) is capable of - if not, why would it be there? Which is interesting because it shows the power of diplomacy: Russia has only one carrier - the US has how many, ten, a dozen? - but it can't use them for lack of international support. Moscow has cleverly maneuvred and struck deals until there was no more opposition to its intervention.

And I don't see this changing any time soon, whoever wins those elections. No diplomatic backing, and a lot of economic pressure from China - how should it be done? Of course, Russia and Syria will do all they can to create accomplished facts before whoever takes office, but without capable regional allies and a large-scale invasion, there won't be much Washington can do anyway.

Wonder if China will participate at some point, indirectly.

Posted by: smuks | Nov 9 2016 0:35 utc | 46

I recognise that this a pretty vain hope, but if elected I hope hill the shill will find a reason not to escalate the conflict in Syria, Yemen or Iraq, because the fallout from that call will be disastrous for everyone should it be made. Ultimately even the elites will pay a price because a full on war between a Russian/Iranian supported force on one side and a amerikan/Saudi supported gang on the other is likely to be unwinnable by either. It doesn't matter who has the best SAMs, biggest guns or most committed infantry, the war would quickly descend into an unwinnable stalemate that dragged on for years while everyone sweated on whether one side would up the ante & reach for the nukes.
Those who hope that amerikans would come to quickly regret their selection of prez need to cast their mind back to 03 - once shrub actually committed the sound of the illegal invasion's opponents was quickly drowned in a 'support the troops' babel.
His position only became truly untenable once the strategic incompetence of the invaders could no longer be avoided and that took 5 years.
While a lot of that was skillfully manipulated by karl rove and a compliant media it is important to remember that logic played no part in it, the response was visceral borne outta thousands of generations of humans who have endured conflict and have developed an innate sense of the need to support 'us' against 'them'.
The truly terriying end game of that inculcated belief in self against the unknown other is a masada event where humans come to the belief that death is a better 'more honorable' result than surrender and a clamour for dragging out the nukes can be orchestrated.
Sectarian conflict in the ME has rumbled below the surface ever since Mohhamed karked it. The sensible leaders such as Assad senior, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Ghadafi went to great pains to avoid stoking such conflicts because they understood this. Yes Sunni tended to be better off in pre-invasion Iraq but that was more a result of the tribal nature of relationships than any expressly motivated prejudice against Shia, Iraqis in the main understood that and as their own social mileu was heavily weighted towards tribal power-bases there was a level of tacit acceptance.
Those who remember back to the early days of Iraqi insurrection against the invaders, invaders who had imagined they had accomplished something only to find that was a lie, may remember that as soon as Pat Laing & co suggested creating sectarian division would be a way to make Iraqis more manageable, Iraqi leaders on both sides denounced the move as being totally destructive and regressive. The only Iraqis in favour were the known sociopaths such as Chalabi.

The west is 100% reliant on stoking sectarianism as being the only way they can continue to keep a grip on their side of the conflict but as has been demonstrated so many times in the last 800 years relying on the Shia/Sunni divide may keep conflict stoked for a few years it ultimately fails as affected citizens wake up to the stupidity of going to war against their compatriots when the only visible outcome is the enrichment of a few liars, thieves & cheats in control on either side.

So cranking up the fight could allow amerika to steal hydrocarbons for 5, 10 at the most more years but eventually it will fail and create such animosity against amerika plus any allies foolish enough to align with them that they ultimately get nothing. War will also greatly slow down the rate of resource extraction & transportation so hydrocarbon outputs will be low throughout the conflict.
Maybe a dead set ratbag such as Hillary decides 5 maybe 10 is long enough, that she will be out of office after two terms by then but it is difficult to conceive that all her sponsors, co-conspirators and willing minions will see it that way for long.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Nov 9 2016 0:36 utc | 47

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Nov 8, 2016 4:21:57 PM | 22

Susan, a very interesting point about the contrast between Syrian rebel commanders and Afghanistani.
Let's wonder aloud. Being named and having your area of operations defined in 1982 was dangerous, but you still had a lot of freedom to move from safehouse to safehoue, to secured hq.
In 2016, your name and area of operations can easily be tied to communications and signals intercepts, suddenly youre triangulated and a laser guided bomb has blown you to smithereens.

So we get relatively anonymous jihadi commanders, aside from a few, like Alloush, who got the laser guided bomb treatment.

The Syrian Army has named its top field commanders, which is good propaganda, but they're constantly on the move. I think they learned how dangerous complancey with your brass can be after that big car bomb in damascus earlier on in the war.

Once the war winds down, more stories will be told and maybe we'll learn some names. Beyond the generic al-timbuktu of the lions of the revenge ofthe martyrs brigades

Posted by: Cresty | Nov 9 2016 0:53 utc | 48

Posted by: Debsisdead | Nov 8, 2016 7:36:21 PM | 47
Hillary has been bought and paid for by the Saudis, and she tends to deliver for her donors.
But she's enough of a politician to say, we'll continue the same level of support as before and you can continue fantasizing about being a hegemon. That's probably the best case scenario.

I worry about her and saudi /israeli machinations in Lebanon.

Posted by: Cresty | Nov 9 2016 0:57 utc | 49

@47 debsisdead.. thanks for your comments, much of which i relate well to. however, what war has been winnable on the planet for the longest time already? did the usa win in iraq, or libya? is that what a win is supposed to look like? i think winning at present is being able to generate more and more profit off more and more supply of weapons into conflicts that seem manufactured for more of the same.

trying to hold up the mideast conflict as a clash of religious ideology - sunni verses shia is really lame, but it's been made more possible thru wahabbism and the full support it's gotten from the usa and west.. it doesn't seem to me that the west - usa in particular - is interested in severing it's relationship with the saudi and qatar money that continues to flow into the clinton foundation and everywhere else in the halls of usa political power.. quite the opposite seems to be taking place.. so, while a war might be unwinnable here, i don't think these psychopaths really care either way.. i feel much the same way about corporations in general.. profit is all that counts, even if the planet doesn't exist in a 100 years.. and, i don't think it is an exaggeration to suggest this.. the change needed here is very fundamental and it isn't happening. this is what i get for being an idealist..

Posted by: james | Nov 9 2016 1:08 utc | 50

I just remember that actually before geneva II and before the lastest round of negotiations, there were named militias and named representatives who were to be participating in the negotiations (under KSA's sponsorship/vouching that they were "moderate rebels") Agree that satellite technology has created being targeted a much greater danger, but they all use pseuds ...
Since that last round, however, Al-Qa’eda (iirc) issued sharp criticism of all jihadis cooperating (and receiving aid) from the enemies (most obviously KSA) ... and then there was silence and the first big refusal to negotiate. In fact, I had forgotten that Al-Qa’eda condemnation of Saudi-enabled jihadis as collaborators. It's intriguing. OBL was a known "freedom fighter" and Masoud's assassination (by Al-Qa’eda) was significant news on the eve of 09/11/2001. In Afghanistan, we supported freedom fighters and got "the Taliban" -- a convocation of backwater and bumpkin clerics as I have read Al-Qa’eda characterized them.

I've been surprised wrt Syria that we have not created an "our team" as an up-and-coming alternative roster of potential post-assad governance. American ignorance is legendary and mmaking "heroes out of fall guys" is our speciality. The Syrian government includes (or has included) several parties and has "contested" elections between competing candidates.

This new PR anti-Assad/anti-jihadi campaign has to have some end-game ... there were reports within the last week of two militias groups fighting eachother (with guns) in Aleppo.

I wouldn't be surprised if much of the non-foreign aligned resistance collapsed or simply faded away. It's been a very long war and Syria is in tatters ... I just have to wish they'd have spared their country more war years ago.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Nov 9 2016 1:15 utc | 51

I think that what has always been part of the agenda for the global plutocrats in the ME is to create refugees and send them to the EU to overload their social safety nets and stagnate the economies with massive unemployment.....similar to the Shock Doctrine of South America.

It seems to be working quite well, if you are that sort of sick. Bankrupting the EU and America are next up on their agenda by abandoning the US dollar as Reserve Currency once the global plutocrats get all their assets long as they get to keep their global private finance tools (BIS, IMF, World Bank, SWIFT, Fed, City of London, etc.)

Will Syria be the monkey wrench in their plans? I certainly hope so.

To smuks above that was wondering if/when China will show its hand in this deal.....good question. I think that China ultimately is the no nukes threat to the neocons.....I think China has made it clear that if they see nukes coming "their" way they will start lobbing nukes back and not wait to see if they are only intended for Russia.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 9 2016 1:36 utc | 52

For any one that missed it, this is Dunford basically saying Carter is full of it on Raqqa. I don't know much about Dunford but I have been impressed every time he has had some thing to say.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Nov 9 2016 3:10 utc | 53

Lozion @ 21: Thanks for the vessel info. It's one of my fetishes..

james @ 50 said.." i don't think these psychopaths really care either way.. i feel much the same way about corporations in general.. profit is all that counts, even if the planet doesn't exist in a 100 years.. and, i don't think it is an exaggeration to suggest this.. the change needed here is very fundamental and it isn't happening. this is what i get for being an idealist..

Operative few words being.."profit is all that counts"

Keep your idealism, it's not a negative. The "profit uber alles" mentality will kill us all.

Posted by: ben | Nov 9 2016 3:20 utc | 54

thanks ben..

Posted by: james | Nov 9 2016 3:43 utc | 55

Trump elected - watch for all the NeoCons to be fired.

In fact - I encourage every contributor to this board to draw up a list of NEOCON artists serving in the current Administration that must have no place in any future Trump Administration.

He needs to know who he must say "You're Fired" to.

Posted by: Julian | Nov 9 2016 7:28 utc | 56

@PavewayIV | Nov 8, 2016 2:03:19 PM | 12

I had seen the video you mention, but had not been able to satisfactorily settle in my mind the motive for the whole thing. Thanks for your insight. One additional item to notice about the video is that it is not a security camera (which would have a fixed mount), it is actually hand held - which only gives more weight to your observation.

As to the Syrian question being resolved... I am not sure the politics will work out that way. Putin quashed a resolution of the Donbass just when the militia really had the Ukrainian army on the run - ordered a ceasefire and left them in an economically and militarily untenable position - much like Transnistria. If they had taken the port city of Mariupol (they had it functionaly surrounded but with Putin's order had to stand down and withdraw)they would have been able to be economically self-supporting.

With Trump at the helm Putin has a chance to show his willingness to negotiate. I fear/predict this will mean a freezing of active support for Syria once Jan 2017 rolls around. Should Putin go so far as to cut support for the Syrian army,partitioning of the country( or an endless war?) will result - Which was the dream of the neo-cons from the beginning.

The only hope I have in all this is that Trump advocated partnership with Putin infighting the terrorists - and will not have the patience to try to distinguish shades of pseudo-moderation. Will that sentiment survive the contortions of the office? time will tell

Posted by: les7 | Nov 9 2016 9:29 utc | 57

The next Russian naval action would appear to be to destroy jihadi logistics in Idlib to the re enforcement of the front lines.

"...To this goal, Russian intelligence is now gathering information about the jihadists whereabouts, supply lines, bases and weapons depots. Russian forces deployed in Syria have also reportedly increased the use of UAVs as well as satellites over rebel-control areas during the recent weeks."

An infographic of the Russian Naval group is here:

"Local sources expect the intensification of Russia-led military operations in Syria in period between November 10 and November 22. The rumors relates to alleged requests to the Syrian military from the Russian Navy for carrying out flights and firing operations off Syria’s coast.

According to reports, the Russian Navy task force, that includes the nuclear-powered battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy and heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, will conduct flights and military strikes on November 10-15 and on November 17-22 in the eastern part of Mediterranean. There are no additional information about the planned operations."

The Tiger forces have announced a new offensive to the northwest of Aleppo in the Anandan Plains. My guess would be the Russian strikes will be in support of this.

"DAMASCUS, SYRIA (10:00 P.M.) - The Syrian Arab Army's High Command announced on Tuesday evening that their forces are preparing for a new military operation in Aleppo's northern countryside.

"Our military operations will focus on the towns of Haritan, Anadan, Hayyan, and Kafr Hamra," the commander of the Syrian Arab Army's "Tiger Forces," Colonel Suheil Al-Hassan, stated on Tuesday.

"We will unleash hell onto those towns if the terrorists do not surrender to our forces," Colonel Hassan added.

The aforementioned towns are located in the 'Anandan Plains of northwest Aleppo; they have long been under the control of the jihadist rebels, beginning in early 2013."

Posted by: Dean | Nov 9 2016 11:03 utc | 58

dated 9th, but was in news 2 days ago:
Report: US Sends 1,700 Parachute Troopers to Iraq for Unspecified Objective

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Pentagon has sent hundreds of parachute troopers to Iraq, while their commander says that they are not due to take part in any military operation in Mosul, Russian-language media reports said Wednesday.

A sum of 1,700 US army parachute troopers from its special forces will cooperate with the Iraq's joint military forces to help take control of the city of Mosul, the Arabic-language edition of the Russian Izvestia newspaper reported.

maybe this is what for, not MOSUL; note it would be a feint, since Raqqa= SYRIA:
TEHRAN (FNA)- The military operations by the US-back militants to win back Raqqa is just a political gesture and the Syrian army is the only military force that can take back the self-proclaimed capital of the ISIL, a retired general and senior military strategist said.

Posted by: schlub | Nov 9 2016 19:51 utc | 59

@ schlub

War never stops for any stinkin (s)election process but uses the distraction to push its agenda.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 9 2016 20:07 utc | 60

on one hand, seems Russia OK with Trump, as opposed to the alternative:
THE WORLD REACTS Putin becomes first world leader to congratulate new US President Donald Trump…

But who's not happy? Seems if u read the comments on ZH here, it's the Chinese who hold a few hundred bill in UST all maturities, & are not happy that Trump stated a while back that on his 1st day in office (Jan 20/2017) he would label the chinee a "currency manipulator".
so perhaps they want to get a good price while they can.

today NOV 9 action again here---at least generational size of daily move in US bond (30-year) & note (10-year), with yield moving inverse:$TNX,uu[d,a]daclyyay[df][pb50!b200][vc60][iUb14!La12,26,9]&pref=G

Posted by: schlub | Nov 9 2016 21:14 utc | 61

So here is a link from the BBC reporting about the Russian fleet in the Med chasing away a Dutch sub

And the next moves are?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 10 2016 0:07 utc | 62

Imo the Russian naval build up is a warning to Turkey not to advance south of al bab or else. The plan is for the Syrian army to push North to al bab and thereby the Turks and Syrian will block the Kurdish east east link up

Posted by: Michael | Nov 11 2016 10:38 utc | 64

Kirby (US version of Baghdad Bob) attacked the RT reporter for working for a state owned news operation. He insisted that the US is reporting hospital strikes based on reports from reputable aid agencies. Of course, we know those agencies are biased, corrupt, and funded by states like the US. It should not matter who asks the question.

"Larry Johnson, a retired CIA and State Department official, criticized Kirby’s behavior during the briefing, saying that his treatment of RT’s correspondent was 'so unprofessional' that it 'borders on incompetence.'"

Posted by: Curtis | Nov 17 2016 21:21 utc | 65

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