Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 18, 2017

Syria - Turks Fail To Take Al-Bab - "Rebels" Die In Infighting

This week the Turkish President Erdogan visited the Gulf states. He asked for bigger investment in Turkey and for cash for his project to occupy more parts of Syria. A week ago Erodgan had claimed:

“Al-Bab is about to be captured. Manbij and Raqqah are next,” Erdogan said, adding their number one priority was to form a safe zone in the country.

This week he brought his Army Chief of Staff Arak to the Gulf to declare victory. Several Erdogan friendly media outlets in Turkey (any other left?) reported:

Operation Euphrates Shield has entered a new phase in al-Bab, as the offensive stage is over now that the town has largely been recaptured from Daesh.

“The operation in al-Bab is over," Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar said at a press conference in Qatar on Wednesday during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's trip to Gulf countries.
Silence now dominates the area that was once scene to heavy clashes. Turkish tanks patrol al-Bab's streets and the Syrian opposition has pressed a major advance.

That claim was a huge lie. While Turkish forces had earlier taken some outskirts of Al-Bab and claimed to own 40% of the city they were by then stuck and later in full retreat.

Yesterday the Turkish forces lost the Al-Hikma hospital and the automatic bakery they had earlier captured and retreated from all inner districts of Al-Bab. At least 90% of Al-Bab is still in Islamic State hands.

Geolocated video by the Islamic State and Turkish supported forces show that the Turks are back at their starting points at the outer city limits.


As many as 430 Syrian civilians have been killed by Turkish forces and their auxiliaries. Just last week the MI-6 sponsored Syrian Observatory said that Turkish bombing killed more than 60 in Al-Bab. It confirmed videos posted by the Islamic State which showed killed children and destroyed houses. Unlike with every death cause by fighting between Takfiris and the Syrian Army no "western" main-stream media picked up on that.

Turkey started to invade Syria between Aleppo and Euphrates exactly six month ago. The aim was to prevent the Syrian Kurds from taking an east-to-west corridor along the Turkish border. Such would have closed off Turkey from further influence in Syria. The Turks had hired some of the Syrian "rebels" they had earlier supported to fight the Syrian government to now fight the Islamic State and the Kurds. The Takfiris of Ahrar al-Sham are their storm troopers.

The first three month showed some rapid progress. The Islamic State was bribed to move out of the northern Syrian areas without a fight and the Turks moved in. But in December they reached Al-Bab, a city east of Aleppo with originally some 60,000 inhabitants. There resistance from the Islamic State picked up and the Turkish progress stopped. Turkish armor, often placed without cover in sight of the front line, was destroyed in mass by Islamic State anti-tank missiles. Casualties climbed and the mercenaries of the FSA refused to continue the fight.

As of Thursday casualties number so far were at least 64 Turkish soldiers killed and 386 wounded. Of the FSA auxiliaries at least 469 were killed and 1,712 wounded. A dozen main battle tanks were confirmed as lost. Unofficial sources claim that more than 30 Turkish tanks were destroyed as well as 20+ armored infantry carriers - nearly two battalions wasted for no significant gain.

The Free Syrian Army mercenaries Erdogan hired to take on the Kurds and the Islamic State are now mostly useless. They do not fight efficiently but profusely waste ammunition for spray-and-pray show offs (vid).

To compensate for that Turkey injected its own special Forces and now has some 3,000 soldiers involved in the operation. But that did not help either -  losses continued and no progress was made. Another 5,000 Turkish soldiers were now send (Tur) to join the operation. It was also announced that Turkey plans to erect three garrisons in Syria. On top of the eluding Al-Bab Erdogan now also wants to take the Islamic State held Raqqa and the Kurdish held Manbij.

His plan of a Raqqa operation is ludicrous. It would require to fight for and hold a corridor through Kurdish-Syrian areas:

Ankara's preferred plan of action envisages Turkish and U.S. special forces, backed by commandoes and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels entering Syria through the border town of Tel Abyad, currently held by Kurdish YPG militia, the newspaper said.

The forces would effectively cut through YPG territory, before pushing on to Raqqa, which lies about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south.

Such a plan would require the United States to convince the Kurdish militia to grant the Turkey-backed forces a 20-kilometre (12-mile)-wide strip through YPG territory in order to push south, ..

The U.S. would not (and could not) hold back Kurdish forces from attacking such a long Turkish supply line.

But who takes such announcements serious anyway? After the alleged coup against him Erdogan kicked out every officer who was not, in his view, sufficiently loyal to him. His air-force was hurt the most. Allegedly only 0.4 qualified pilots per plane are available now instead of the regular 2-3. It takes up to a decade to train new pilots.

The ground army may be in slightly better shape but NATO's second biggest military is no longer the serious force it once was. The whole Turkish operation is in disarray. Moreover - there is no plan for the day after or any exit strategy. Decisions and announcements change from day to day.

The current Turkish plans contradict the Astana agreements concluded with Russia, Syria and Iran. Only a short, temporary role for Turkish forces was agreed upon. Al-Bab was supposed to be taken by Syrian forces. Syria has officially protested at the UN against the Turkish invasion. But neither Syria nor Russia or Iran have started to fight the Turkish forces. "Just let the Turks bleed," seems to be their current slogan.

Erdogan set the date for a referendum in Turkey over a new constitution. The vote in April would legalize his quasi dictatorial powers. But the quagmire in Syria and the stalemate at Al-Bab will cost him. Why choose a dictator prone to lose his fights? Unconfirmed rumors are swiveling around claiming that Erdogan is trying to bribe the Islamic State to leave Al-Bab. Such a move would fit Erdogan's motives. He needs the victory and does not shy away from otherwise illegitimate methods.

South of Al-Bab the Syrian army is moving towards the Euphrates. It will cut off the Turkish forces path to Raqqa and Manbij. In north-east Syria formerly Turkish sponsored Takfiris fight each other. Jund al-Aqsa, allied with Islamic State, is mass killing "moderate rebels" allied with Al-Qaeda. Hundreds of "rebel" fighters and prisoners have lost their lives in such infighting.

In the south "moderate rebels" and al-Qaeda try to attack the city of Daraa, held by regular Syrian forces. The attacks failed. Jordan closed its borders and no longer takes care of wounded "rebels". The Military Operations Room in Jordan has stopped all supplies and payments to anti-Syrian forces. Only Israel is still secretly helping them.

Syrian government forces mop up isolated rebel strongholds near Damascus. Some Syrian army forces are moving to retake Palmyra. The east-Syrian garrison in Deir Ezzor, isolated and attacked by the Islamic State, is still holding out. Bigger operations against the Takfiris in the south and north-west are planned but the smart move now is to just sit tight and let the enemies, Takfiris as well as Turks, continue in their self destruction.

Posted by b on February 18, 2017 at 6:53 UTC | Permalink


I hope SAA wont completely cut off ISIS south of Al-Bab, this will allow continuous bleeding of ISIS and Turks (and prevent them from occupying any more territory in Syria).

Posted by: Harry | Feb 18 2017 7:17 utc | 1

Bill Maher pounding the war drum of Mil.Zog towards Crimea: “I keep hearing on the news, the (Flynn) cover-up is worse than the crime. No. The crime is worse. The crime is treason. The crime is colluding with Russia to fix an American election.”

We Need Tribunals!! We need a Loyalty Oath!!

This is the psyop softening-up stage the Zog's are well prepared to delivery through all of their media outlets. The 'He is a Bad Man' simpleton psyop that Bush Jr employed so well. Then consider the Rabbinicals and Evangelicals, 10,000,000s of them, still believe in Creeping God-Less Communism, and can't see it all around them in WADC, now in Russia.

Kerry, McCain and Graham already demonstrated they can loot $50 billion out of SS and MC (July, 2015) for a 'war chest', without anyone in the Zog media even raising an eyebrow. Once they establish by Repeating the Big Lie Until They Round the Corners of the Square, as Goebbels put it, or maybe it was Ernst Röhm, then $10s billions will flow like blood.

"Russia Did It!! (whatever we want 'it' to be) Let's Get Russia!!"

Syria is a stalemate. If chess players were paid a lifetime salary and full pension to play an endless stalemate, well, then they would! Crimea is the Spring 2017 ₪-Putsch.

Trump Regime is the Lord of the Flies.

Posted by: chipnik | Feb 18 2017 7:18 utc | 2
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Europe's ties with Russia remained challenging, but it was important to work with Russia in the fight against Islamist terrorism.
"The joint fight against Islamic terrorism is one area where we have the same interests and we can work together," Merkel said in a speech to the Munich Security Conference, where U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was in the audience.
Merkel, who has been critical of a U.S. ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, underscored that Islam itself was not the source of terrorism. She said it was critical to include Muslim countries in the fight against Islamist terrorism.

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 18 2017 9:16 utc | 4

In a world blown with the wind, drifting with the waves, lost in a sea of disinformation and propaganda, current Russia seems like a rock holding its position.
Good update on Syria b.

Posted by: Peter AU | Feb 18 2017 9:44 utc | 5

the us/eu/il/saudis/gcc are still funding, arming, training their mercenaries. hard to tell what 'the us' is up to, but the usual suspects are urging doubling down. hard times for syria and the syrian people for the foreseeable future.

the us axis, the eu, israel, and the gcc are as bad as the nazi axis was. they may yet bring about the same total catastrophe the nazis did. Half-Measures in Syria - The United States needs to go big or go home.. if they don't it won't be from lack of trying.

we are fewer than a billion people, total. outnumbered 6:1. eventually we'll be taken down. can't come a moment to soon. how vile we are.

we may say that we are individually not responsible for our governments' crimes, but we are collectively ... who else would it be? interesting reading, Milton Mayers' they thought they were free. applies as well to ourselves, today.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 18 2017 10:13 utc | 6

Here is the REAL issue for those USians:

"How will this affect the NBA, the NFL, the NCAA championship? Will it raise prices at Wal-Mart (or my other preferred big box)?"

If the answer is that it won't the typical USian will say it doesn't matter. Thus,the Deep State will just do what it always does to prolong misery.

Posted by: C del Toro | Feb 18 2017 10:56 utc | 7

The Turkish fiasco in Al-Bab.
The latest failed terrorist attack in the south.
The wiping out of the terrorist in Aleppo.
The cleaning out of the remaining terrorist pockets around Damascus and the Lebanon border.
The terrorist isolation and infighting in Idlib.
The progress Iraq has made against IS - even if it takes the rest of 2017 to completely eradicate IS in the north of the country, at least the border is being secured to prevent the free flow of terrorists.

All point to President Assad having turned the corner on the foreign attack on Syria and starting to enter the cleanup phase.

Much work still to be done in the east of the country, but as more and more of Syria is secured that progress should start of rapidly increase over 2017 with more and more SAA and NDF forces are freed up and larger and large concentration of forces can be utilized.

However, the amazing flipflop by Trump of embracing that neocon wackjob Hillary's 'safezones for terrorists' plan and the suggestion of US ground forces attacking Syria could trump all the hard work President Assad and the Syrian people have done fighting the murderous foreign terrorists over the past three years.

Although Putin has done much to help Syria, he has shown time and time again an almost fatal weakness for continuing to let the US sabotage Syria's fight against the foreign terrorists with silly agreement after silly agreement.

The nightmare scenario for Syria right now is if Putin once again is dumb enough to sit back passively and let the US ground forces attack and seize parts of eastern Syria like he has done time and time again over the past year or so with places like Aleppo.

Posted by: VaginaHat | Feb 18 2017 10:56 utc | 8

When I heard the claim 'Al-Bab under Turkish control', my first thought was 'Oh, seems like they finally struck a deal with ISIS to shift the front'.
I'm wondering, does it make a big difference who ends up in control of the city, Turkey or Syria? What's important is that the Syrian forces reach the Euphrates, thus preventing any further incursion of the Turkish army. Imo.

@jfl 6
...and nobody will be able to say 'oh, but we didn't know'...

While I generally agree, I don't like the tendency of comparing every evil in the world to the Nazis. There are always certain similarities, but they go only so far - the combination of a totalitarian supremacist ideology, huge and efficient industrial base, bureaucracy and military, and murderous desire for extermination is unique so far. And I hope it stays that way.

The Jihadis/ Wahhabites may have the ideology and desire to kill, but no industry and little military power. NATO has the industrial and military capacity, but no comparable ideology nor desire for extermination (just for hegemony). Etc.

@VaginaHat 8

What could Putin do to prevent that? Not much. He'd have to send half the Russian army, and there's no support for that at home. Besides, it's precisely what the Neocons want: Drag Russia into a Mideast quagmire with all its forces, against the jihadis, the Turks, the Kurds...doesn't really matter.

Posted by: smuks | Feb 18 2017 11:55 utc | 9

Agreed Peter AU 5, I wondered why Syria had dropped from US MSM for so long. Last we heard was the AI report of indiscriminate bombing of Aleppo that included chemical weapons and cluster bombs. (while the MSM is quiet on same used by Saudis in Yemen) Like here, allied (and US) killing of civilians is kept under the radar unless it cannot be ignored or can be used for an agenda (like the US failed raid in Yemen which served the purpose of embarassing Trump). It's interesting that Jordan now withholds support for the rebels.

Posted by: Curtis | Feb 18 2017 14:16 utc | 10

It's kind of hilarious how all the enemies of Syria are too busy killing each other to fight the Syrian army. If I was Syria I would grab some popcorns too.

Posted by: Cycloben | Feb 18 2017 15:02 utc | 11

This week the Turkish President Erdogan visited the Gulf states.

A trivial way to determine who butters somone's bread is to note when they refer to the Persian Gulf as "the Gulf".

It is not merely an indication of a poor grasp of geography and history.

Posted by: nobody | Feb 18 2017 15:11 utc | 12

" When Turkey takes control of al-Bab, it will cease to have any further need for Russia. Trump had a quite friendly conversation with Erdogan. He implied that the U.S. would get back on ground against Iran and Daesh.

Turkey responded with similar signals. It presented a plan for cleansing Raqqah. In return, the CIA chief rushed to Ankara to deliver the White House's message, announcing that they would be fighting alongside Turkey against all terrorist organizations.

With all of these added up, Russia began to lose its trust in Turkey. It is now concerned about the possibility that Turkey may gravitate toward the U.S....

Let us be frank here. If Russia fails to approach Turkey with a better deal than that of the U.S., Turkey will get closer to its NATO ally. Russia needs to be a step ahead of the U.S. If it loses Turkey, it may be left alone with Iran against the Western alliance."

This sounds rather alarming to me. With this kind of "friend", who needs enemies?
Together with Pence in Munich " the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable" (for Ukraine), I can only hope the Russians keep cool.

Posted by: venice12 | Feb 18 2017 16:03 utc | 13

Erdogan visits Gulf States. hmmm ..... Since their main common interest is Syria, I wonder what they're planning. After all, there's a Friends of Syria meeting going on in Bonn w/G20 and Qatar FM Thani.
And while there is silence on Syria in US MSM, there's silence on Yemen, too. At least WaPo did a piece on the large protests in Sana'a against "US-backed, Saudi-led coalition." (coalition?)

chipnik 2
paid stalemates. A Mexican-American friend once pointed out that too many like the border situation as it is because there is money paid for all aspects whether smuggling, protection, corruption, security, etc.

Posted by: Curtis | Feb 18 2017 16:04 utc | 14

"South of Al-Bab the Syrian army is moving towards the Euphrates. It will cut off the Turkish forces path to Raqqa and Manbij."

Incorrect statement, Manbij is directly to the East of the Turkish controlled areas, close to the turkish border, and the turks could always attack it. SAA has no persence there and can not block the path to Manbij. As for Raqqa, the statement is correct, SAA could easily connect with the kurdish area and block the turkish path to Raqqa..

Posted by: Observer | Feb 18 2017 16:25 utc | 15

Curtis @14--

Erdogan's broke as his oil smuggling racket was busted, so he's begging for more money.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 18 2017 16:45 utc | 16

Looking at the FSA video b linked to, he isn't kidding about their spray and pray tactics. They seem to be wasting tons of ammunition while facing no real forces. If they were fighting, they would not be standing without cover and shooting. Also, look at all those relatively new Toyotas they're using--wonder who paid for those?

Posted by: WorldBLee | Feb 18 2017 17:21 utc | 17

"Unconfirmed rumors are swiveling around claiming that Erdogan is trying to bribe the Islamic State to leave Al-Bab."

Ahhh, the "Petraeus Plan"

Posted by: Flatulus | Feb 18 2017 17:39 utc | 18

thanks b.. good overview on syria and etc at present.. erdogan is such a whack job.. i suppose that means the turkish people will go for his dictatorial rulership - they like dick taters i guess and are crazy enough to fall for his egomaniac dreams..

so, has the usa dropped jordan off it's financial support list? or is jordan getting tired of the pick up in blow back?

but the real whack jobs are those gcc's still sending their petrodollars into this bottomless pit, hoping the headchopping cult can pull off an upset... would be nice of trump actually could call a halt to some of this, but i know i am dreaming... i expect business as usual... saudi support for continued petrodollar - oil for weapons exchange..

Posted by: james | Feb 18 2017 17:46 utc | 19

Very interesting article and some very good comments, especially re. RF predicament.
The main points I'd like to make are that a) Erdogan has just kick-started an aggressive campaign to ensure a yes vote at the constitutional referendum in April, which is all but the final step on his path to creating Turkey in his own image, as it were and he can not afford to lose. This has lead to intensification of nationalistic breast-beating targetted at the domestic audience of course. The latest is the 'Victory' in Al Bab (also expect the Turkish death count to 'end' as of now) and the utlimatum to the US when Dunford was here "choose Turkey or Terrorism"; A couple of weeks ago Merkel was humiliated unecessarily over her term 'islamist terrorism' - a cheap opportunity taken by Erdogan to belittle the great EU!; today Bin Ali is saying that the Turks will decide when and if they want to join the EU ... etc. Everything we read from Turkey at this moment must be viewed through the prism of a weak country trying to appear strong to its electorate pending the referendum. (Worth mentioning that 'No' voters have already been branded terrorists by the PM, and 'kefir' in mosques!)
b) Given the above and Turkey's precarious security reality, and given that Erdogan can not allow the economy to fail- we saw with the Russian sanctions that the economy is his achilles heel! - any analysis about Turkey's swing to Russia or US must include a viable economic analysis and I have yet to read any such analysis even in the state media that convinces me that Russia's economic value to Turkey can be replaced by the US or gulf partners. So,for a swing back to US,the US will need to make some very serious short and long-term financial commitments to Turkey - which I do not see happening.
c) Lastly,the Anadolou Agency article which mentioned the Moscow PYD links is interestimg in that such links between RF and Kurds are NOT discussed in domestic Turkish media at all - implying that AKP see no need to blacken Russia's name domestically, and in turn implying that there is indeed no change of tone and allegiance. BUT, Turkey will of course continue to push for its own interests to both have its cake and eat it while not pushing things too far with RF (Iran and Syria).

Posted by: AtaBrit | Feb 18 2017 18:05 utc | 20

Meanwhile we have the British military saying the Kurds (not the SDF, note) will take (largely Syrian Arab) Raqqa. That should work out just dandy.

“We’ve also always said that we would discuss with our partners, in terms of who is best placed to conduct the actual liberation of Raqqa. We’ll do that, we’ll have those conversations,”

Ah, those infamous 'partners'.

Russia has provided these 'partners' with a reminder. It has used Tu-95s to dump a load of X-101 stealth cruise missiles on 'training grounds' and other targets near Raqqa.

Meanwhile Russia and Turkey are still discussing the hand over of the infamous Celik, involved in the death of the parachuting Su-24 crew, and arresting suspects involved in the murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 18 2017 19:23 utc | 21

"Unconfirmed rumors are swiveling around claiming that Erdogan is trying to bribe the Islamic State to leave Al-Bab."

Would not surprise me one bit. Erdogan already has a long history of financial interaction with IS.

I don't believe Turkey is any threat to taking a single bit of Syrian territory:

* Erdogan is still reeling from the, most likely US orchestrated, coup attempt. He must know that his Al-Bab fiasco is a massive advertisement to both internally and externally his regime is weak. The Kurds inside Turkey must be encouraged watching the dismantled Turkish military getting easily crushed by IS.

* IS territory, hardware, and manpower are rapidly being reduced by the Syria, Iraq, and Russia. Prices must be skyrocketing for services such as leaving a major city for IS

* The SAA is rapidly advancing east while the Turkish military is going nowhere. The path south for Erdogan is being closed very soon.

* Erdogan has no idea what Trump is going to do today, let alone tomorrow. I can't imagine he would do anything other than his border adventure in Syria until he has some certainty as to Trump's real intentions

* Russia can drop the hammer down on Turkey at any moment again with sanctions.

* Syria, Iran, and Turkey all appear to be on the same page with Syria returning to its pre-war state.

Turkey's clown sultan Erdogan surely still wishes it was a couple years ago when Syria was reeling and Russia had yet to enter the war where he could have occupied huge sections of north/east Syria and north Iraq - effectively giving him the start of his empire and complete freedom to annihilate the Kurds.

It is sad to see a murderous clown like Erdogan meeting with the Saudi regime. There is nothing they can do to save their head chopping terrorists in Syria but it does mean it will be needlessly harder to finish off the foreign terrorists left attacking Syria.

Posted by: VaginaHat | Feb 18 2017 20:20 utc | 22

I don't think it's plausible that Putin is dumb or naive. Every time he declares peace, the US and its allies push forward. Also, let's not forget how long it took Putin to come to Assad's support, having seen similar kinds of operations in Libya and elsewhere, where relatively stable regimes and prosperous countries were plunged into hell. Putin had to know it was coming for Syria yet chose to wait until Syria was almost gone before stepping in. Assad was fighting a war against an almost infinite enemy. His allies didn't seem overly concerned until he was on the edge of total defeat.

So what is Putin's real game?

Posted by: paul | Feb 18 2017 20:58 utc | 23

Erdogan's confidence in Flynn and Trump is leading him away from the Iran-Russia strategy. In addition Erdogan is furious that Russia continues to support the YPG.
The Raqqa plan is so stupid that one wonders who is in charge in Erdogan's team and if the USA is not simply trying to humiliate Erdogan so he looses the referendum.

“We will not be directly inside an operation [on Raqqa], we will provide tactical support, of course if we agree in principle,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Yıldırım as saying on Feb. 18 in Germany, where he went to attend the Munich Security Conference.
“The opportunities and capabilities are being reviewed,” he said.

Yıldırım said that “local forces, civil insurgents, Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other militia” would go in the forefront as one group and “we will be in the back,” adding that the U.S. and Turkey would have military presence at the Raqqa operation.

Turkey will be part of Raqqa op if deal reached, says Turkish PM
"Recep Tayypi Erdogan has changed stance to support the armed opposition groups in Syria and revive the Saudi-Turkish-Qatari pivot," Atwan wrote on Saturday.

"Now the question is how Moscow will react to Turkey's position? What will be the positions of the Iranian and Syrian governments? It is an issue that will come into light in the next few days but undoubtedly, the fate of the fourth round of Geneva talks will not be better than the three previous rounds," he added.

Posted by: virgile | Feb 18 2017 21:16 utc | 24

@ paul | 23

Putin cares about Russia's interests, which may not always coincide with Syria's. Thats why Putin had clashes with Assad, Iran, even with his own military! Ironically, it was actually good for Syria that US didnt want to make ANY deal with Russia, therefore Putin had to commit to rout terrorists instead of trading zones of influences with US (which still may happen).

Also Iran had helped Syria more than Russia did, and if not Iran (Suleimani) convincing Putin, Russia would probably still be sitting on the sidelines.

Posted by: Harry | Feb 18 2017 21:26 utc | 25

"In north-east Syria formerly Turkish sponsored..."
Correction: Should read "In north-west"..

Rumors of Turkey building a base in occupied zone. One hopes the eastern SAA pincer merges quickly with SDF/YPG forces for a fait-accompli situation forcing a Turkish retreat otherwise at some point the SAA will have to confront Turkish forces.. Then what?

Posted by: Lozion | Feb 18 2017 21:42 utc | 26

Syria should persuade all citizens in the border zone with Turkey to withdraw - with state aid and assistance to safe areas within state control. Syria should then create "no-go areas", on the border to Turkey, (f*ck no-fly zones) where anything that moves, that isn't sanctioned, is a legitimate target(including Turkish military!); i.e. no border movement of jihadi's or ammo, or oil, or body-parts, or child-trafficking(look at George Webb's YouTube) between Syria/Turkey full stop. The end is in sight and it aint pretty!

Posted by: fredjc | Feb 19 2017 0:25 utc | 27

@23 paul.. ever played chess before? you win some and you lose some, but strategy is everything.. being confused by others strategy doesn't necessarily translate that they don't have any.. it might, it might this point it looks like russia operate like chess masters, while the usa might not survive a game of checkers..

@25 harry.. very last comment.. i am not so sure about that.. maybe..

Posted by: james | Feb 19 2017 0:28 utc | 28

The worm has turned ... a distinct change in policy re Syria, ie Assad & US coalition/Russia coalition military co-operation, due to 'facts on the ground' and a new US administration. After all, Jordan (a beholden vassal) has already acted ... s significant number of key indicators concurrently in a brief space of time ...

Syria War News: UN Talks Assad Victory For First Time As Army, Rebels Fight ISIS
International Business Times
The United Nations has apparently dropped key language that referred to the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad in its latest communication on the conflict in Syria and its goals for peace talks, indicating what may be a major victory for ...

UN backs away from mention of transition in Syria talks
GENEVA, Feb 17 - The United Nations is no longer using the phrase "political transition" to describe the goals of next week's Syria peace talks, in a potentially major concession to negotiators representing President Bashar al-Assad.

"Political transition" is a phrase understood by the opposition to mean a removal of Assad or at least an erosion of his powers. But his government has rejected any suggestion that it could be on the table, and at previous peace talks in Geneva his negotiators consistently tried to steer away from it...

Kurds pledge to fight Turkey to retain Syria's Manbij
Turkish president's plan to clear Kurdish forces from Syrian city and set up a safe zone meets with Kurdish defiance.

And this obscure yet remarkable little gem from down-under ... is the Aussie vassal being used to 'break new ground' again as a supposed yet faux 'neutral/independent' ... just as they were tasked prior to Nixon going to China ? Intriguing, it is ...

Australia open to working with Russia to fight IS in Syria: Defence Minister Marise Payne

Defence Minister Marise Payne has said Australia "will consider" co-operating with Russia in the fight against the Islamic State terror group in Syria as its ally the United States wrestles with its own internal doubts over the fraught question.

Underscoring the awkward position that US allies such as Australia find themselves in as the new administration in Washington crystallises its thinking on some of Donald Trump's more controversial proposals, Senator Payne said the Turnbull government would weigh its options but declined to go into detail.

She was speaking as the Pentagon prepares a plan to ramp up the international effort against the terrorist group, which Senator Payne stressed she did not want to pre-empt.

Asked how comfortable she felt about co-operating with Russia, Senator Payne said in an interview with Fairfax Media: "As matters advance in Syria, these are matters the government will consider but I'm not going to make any further comment on that at the moment."...

Senator Payne declined to say what kind of expansion the government is prepared to make to its role in the Middle East under a plan being drawn up by the Pentagon.

That plan – which Mr Trump has demanded by the end of this month – will include what Mr Mattis calls an "acceleration" of the fight against the terrorist group.

Senator Payne said Australia was pleased with progress in Iraq but "that said, we would always listen to and be prepared to look at propositions that were put to us"...

by the US ?

Posted by: Outraged | Feb 19 2017 1:01 utc | 29

Outraged @ 3: Thanks for the links. As long as ISIS can obtain the weapons shown, this conflict will drag on for years.

C del Toro @ 7 said: ""How will this affect the NBA, the NFL, the NCAA championship? Will it raise prices at Wal-Mart (or my other preferred big box)?"

Shows exactly the level of concern most Americans have for the Syrian debacle.

Posted by: ben | Feb 19 2017 1:57 utc | 30

@karlof1 | 16 "Erdogan's broke" - spot on. Which is probably why the 'arab' interest has been revitalised - without arab investment and sales the construction industry in Turkey collapses.
@virgile | 24 "Erdogan is furious that Russia continues to support the YPG" - He my well be in private but none of the domestic mass media outlets have even broached this subject for the best part of a year. The PYD issue used solely to attack the US and breast-beat before a dumbed-down domestic audience.
Do not forget, that with AKP any change in policy is always preceeded by a short period of media management to prepare the people for what will then become a 'no brainer' decision with full public support! So, AKP's media narrative is often key to understanding what is happening.

What is Turkey doing parading around with US, CIA and Arabs? I would guess that with the US he wants to see how far the new admin will go to support him. Pretaureus apparently equated PYD with PKK terrorists just yesterday and it is being sold as a sign that the US has agreed to give up on PYD. I doubt it. But such news would do wonders for the referendum 'yes' vote. As for the arabs - I think its money more than anythjmg else. The turkish economy is fuct, it needs an injection of funds to get it through the next few months pruor to the election.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Feb 19 2017 9:05 utc | 31

@VaginaHaty | 22
"Russia can drop the hammer down on Turkey at any moment again with sanctions."
Absolutely correct. And beyond that the new TurkStream contract sees massive financial penalties for Turkey should it 'turn the tables' once more; Russia has for centuries - well almost 2 - had and still has very strong links with Kurds which it could cheaply and easily employ to embroil Turkey in a protracted conflict in Northern Syria; and of course there are the gas supplies from Iran and Russia and the trump card - mobilise and arm kurds and opposition in Turkey and instigate civil war - If Turkey doesn't manage to do this all by itself! None of these require direct confrontation with Turkey.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Feb 19 2017 9:56 utc | 32

Posted by: paul | Feb 18, 2017 3:58:01 PM | 23

There is a lot of US-Russian understanding that is not public.

Remember how Russia saved Obama from his "red line" by getting rid of Syrian chemical weapons?

Obama's policy was to get rid of Assad but not the Syrian state (as it had been a desaster in Iraq). So to force Assad to "agree to a transition" by supporting the opposition - any opposition.

When the Syrian state was threatened by Jihadis and Obama's calculus turned out to be the recipe for another Libya, Russia saved Obama - again - by intervening.

Oil and gas need peace for pipeline profits. If the US/allies cannot grant that on their own militarily - Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen - oil and gas will support peace with Russia.

Which the military/industrial complex will fight against.

At Munich's security conference last week there were speeches by Tillerson, Lavrov and Iranian foreign minister Zarif. Angela Merkel stated clearly that Germany's interest is business with Russia prevented by "the principle of the territorial integrity of Ukraine". She will have problems with her principles in an election year.

Ukraine has been set up as a wedge issue.

Obama tried to mediate between US factions. Trump is no mediator, a full fight is on.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 19 2017 11:10 utc | 33

Gallup poll: Turkish people would prefer to be protected by Russia.

Includes interesting map on alliance by people's preference.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 19 2017 14:03 utc | 34

Speaking of Syrian reporting AND humanitarian NGOs, I ran into this recently.
Matt Lee takes on Victoria Nuland (2 min video from 2012)

This was before Kirby took on the role of US State Dept's version of Baghdad Bob to manipulate reality dealt to the masses.

Posted by: Curtis | Feb 19 2017 14:40 utc | 35

@29 outraged.. i agree - the policy seems to have changed..australia seems to be trying gauge how the wind is blowing and making advance guesses..

@33 somebody.. yes - ukraine was set up as a wedge..i can't understand how you perceive trump dealing with this topic.

@35 curtis.. i had forgotten nuland did those daily press release briefings a few years ago.. matt is good.. i liked the laugh on the reporters face behind him, relishing matt putting nuland on the hot seat..

Posted by: james | Feb 19 2017 17:24 utc | 36

@somebody | 34
Very interesting poll but not surprising.
Have tried unsuccessfully to find the data behind it - would love to see the figures per euro country - is the preference borderline or not etc.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Feb 19 2017 18:40 utc | 37

somebody @34:

Your interpretation of events seems rather too friendly to Obama. AFAICT Russia/Putin has a dislike for Obama - and for good reason. Perhaps you've forgotten how Putin scolded the US/West at the UN?

Russia didn't save Obama from his 'red-line', they saved their ally from a bombing campaign. And they didn't intervened in Syria to help the US (LMFAO!), they did so to save their ally.

>> "Oil and gas need peace for pipeline profits."
Oil prices rise when there is conflict or expectations of conflict. US/allies are good at stirring the pot.

The oil & gas industry will support peace with Russia if they can get more control over global oil supply. Imagine an OPEC with Russia+Iran+Venezuela? Profits would be huuge!

>> "Obama tried to mediate between US factions."
You're really going to pretend that Obama is not partisan? I will not drink that Kool-Aid!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 19 2017 19:16 utc | 38

@ Posted by: james | Feb 19, 2017 12:24:22 PM | 36

Too many are caught up in the rubbish 'clickbait' obsessions of the MSM to miss the indicators being quietly reported behind the glaring, bright, flashing lights ...

The Aussies aren't gauging anything nor making guesses, IMV, they're 'flying it up the flagpole' as requested by the US, with the intimation it was direct to Paine from Mattis. Carefully review the language used by their SECDEF equivalent ... this new policy change came directly from the US and the Aussies have been tasked to champion it 'as reasonable' and 'worthy of consideration', when in fact if they're directed to 'jump', they'll just reply, 'How high ?'. An amazing article with direct quotes & attributions ...

Would be keen to hear what Peter AU or similar think ... AUS has been a one track 'Putin' is the demon in charge of Evil Russkies whenever anyone has heard from AUS government reps in the past ...

Xinhua has picked up on it with further reporting:

Australia may consider working with Russia to fight IS: defense minister

The Australian government has not ruled out working with Russia in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in the Middle East, the nation's defense minister said Sunday...

Following high-level international defense talks in Brussels last week, at which Australia's Defense Minister Marise Payne met with counterparts including US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the Australian government has said it would consider working with Russia to get a desirable outcome in war-torn Syria...

Australia has previously been hesitant to throw its support behind Russia's foray into the Middle East, but following the election of Donald Trump, the United States, Australia's closest ally, has indicated it was open to forming closer ties with the Kremlin to defeat IS.

Payne's comments came after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was also open to the idea of increasing Australia's presence in the region, if requested by Australia's military allies...

Posted by: Outraged | Feb 19 2017 21:46 utc | 39

Where is Russia? Why is Turkey being allowed to mess around in Syria like this?

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Feb 20 2017 8:51 utc | 40

40 Temporarily Sane

Option 1. - because Turkey is too dangerous to directly confront

Option 2. - because Turkey is to harmless to really worry about

Given how badly they've just had their butts handed back to them by their Daeshi ex-buddies in Al Bab, i'd go for at least 90% of the latter, and 10% of the former.

Let the Turks play in the sand lest they kick up a tantrum and make a bigger deal that way; they'll be easily kicked out of the sandpit when all other kids leave too, come about lunchtime.

Posted by: Quadriad | Feb 20 2017 10:42 utc | 41

@Quadriad | 41
Fully agree. An additional aspect is that while he is being allowed to play soldiers, he is able to soldifiy his position domestically and achieve what he really wants - absolute power and a Sunni mafia state in Turkey. So RF, Syria and Iran are keeping him happy at the same tine.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Feb 20 2017 12:32 utc | 42

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