Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 25, 2018

Syria - The East-Ghouta-Afrin Exchange Is Complete - Where Will The SAA Go Next?

After the Syrian army had taken all rural parts of east-Ghouta three pockets of densely upbuild areas were left in terrorist hands. Negotiations had started about transfer of the armed men to Idleb governorate in the north. Some 100,000 people moved from the besieged areas to the Syrian government side. Surrounded by widely superior forces, devoid of human shields and without any chance of relief the terrorist groups are now giving up one by one.


Source: Maxim Mansour/ Syria Digital Map - bigger

First to surrender were Ahrar al-Sham fighters who held the Harasta suburb. 1,500 of them and their families, in total 4,500 people were transferred to Idleb by government buses. They had to give up all heavy weapons and were only allowed to carry one hand-weapons and no ammunition.

Next to give up were Faylaq al-Rahman who held the southern pocket. While the leadership of the group was negotiating with the government side some of the group fired barrages of missiles into Damascus city and killed dozens of people. Shortly thereafter two dozen of foreigners who had been fighting with Faylaq al-Rahman turned up dead. Having eliminated those irreconcilable elements Faylaq al-Rahman burned its headquarter and agreed to be transferred. The men and their families are now being evacuated to Afrin, a formerly Kurdish area in the north-west which Turkish supported gangs recently captured. The total of this transfer were some 7,000 people.

The last area in to be taken in east-Ghouta is Douma. It is held by Jaish al-Islam, a group of Wahhabi Islamists with intense support from Saudi Arabia. But Jaish al Islam will not want to go to Idleb. They have long fought with other Islamists and especially with HTS, aka Jabhat al-Nusra, which now rules in most of Idleb. Jaish al-Islam still tries to negotiate some autonomy for Douma but the Syrian government will not have any of that. It can not and will not allow a pocket of 'autonomous' Saudi financed Jihadis a few miles from the capital. The group will have to give up completely or agree to be transferred elsewhere. The only alternative is imminent death by Syrian artillery and bombardment. News today is that an agreement has been found but details are not yet available.

The Syrian Arab Army has cleaned the east-Ghouta pocket in a less than a month. This was only possible because Turkey had a great incentive to keep other areas, especially in Idleb, reasonably quiet. To allow Turkey to take the Afrin canton from unruly Kurdish forces was thus in exchange for east-Ghouta.

The U.S. had plans to attack Syria during the east-Ghouta operation. The Russian military sent intense warnings that it would retaliate against U.S. ships and other platforms if those would fire cruise missiles against Syria. The warnings were successful in deterring the Pentagon but not the White House hawks:

According to two National Security Council officials, Mattis has ignored McMaster’s requests for military options that would have allowed the U.S. to strike Eastern Gouta, in Syria, ...

With the east-Ghouta pocket removed the Syrian army can move towards the next target. There is one pocket left near the capital that is still held by terrorists. Yarmouk, originally an improvised camp for Palestinian refugees but now part of Damascus city, is held by an Islamic State aligned group and by some Palestinian Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood followers who also fight the government. These groups often fight each other. Every once in a while their fighting spills over and affects the wider city. The Syrian government gave Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood organization, a chance to clean up the area but Hamas failed to do so. It should not take long for the Syrian forces to eliminate both of the threats.

There have also been signs that the southern area around Daraa, near the Jordanian border, will be the place of the next large operation. Negotiations with some 'rebel' groups in Daraa and with the Jordanian government are ongoing. But while Jordan would probably like the war on Syria to end, its Saudi, Israeli and U.S. allies, who's money it needs to survive, may not agree to such plans and prepare for a new fight.

During the recent visit by the Saudi clown prince in Washington the Saudis bought 6,600 TOW anti tank missiles. Their purchase is obviously not for defense against Yemeni tank divisions storming towards Riyadh. In 2013 the Saudis bought 15,600 TOWs which the CIA then distributed to its Takfiris in Syria. The new Saudi purchase will have a similar purpose. Will those TOWs be distributed to 'rebels' in Daraa or to the new Arab 'rebel' army the U.S. forces in east-Syria are building out of remnants of ISIS?

Posted by b on March 25, 2018 at 15:26 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Here is a good break down of the different groups in EG to complement b’s article:

https://skylightsyria.wordpress.com

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 25 2018 15:50 utc | 1

Thanks for the excellent recap, b!

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 25 2018 15:57 utc | 2

Day by day, the Syrian government gets more control of its country, but the Saudis/Turkey/US and allies will fight to the last Takfiri fighter to not allow the Syrian people to control all of their country.

Posted by: WorldBLee | Mar 25 2018 15:59 utc | 3

"The only alternative is imminent death by Syrian artillery and bombardment".

Works for me. Does that work for them?

"News today is that an agreement has been found..."

Thought not.

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Mar 25 2018 16:00 utc | 4

"The warnings were successful in deterring the Pentagon but not the White House hawks..."

Maybe the people at the Pentagon should invite the "White House hawks" to a demonstration of modern weapons. Or just give them whatever tranquillizers are necessary to have them sit still and attend while they watch Mr Putin's presentation.

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Mar 25 2018 16:02 utc | 5

A shout-out to Russia for changing the way of war especially in reducing civilian casualties, especially in comparison to heavy-handed US methods.
The US strategy is to destroy enemy-held cities, as we have seen recently in Aleppo, Raqqa and Mosul plus others, even using B-52 heavy bombers which can carry 70,000 pounds of bombs. The US Air Force said not to worry, they only used "precision munitions" against "military targets." Baloney, see the results of US aerial bombing here with Raqqa destroyed.
Russia employed the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria. Rather than destroying cities and civilians, in Ghouta thousands of the jihadis were induced to being bused to Idlib with only their small arms and no ammunition. Heavy weapons were handed over to the SAA. Thousands of Syrian civilians and prisoners held by the jihadists were freed, and many civilians inhabitants were spared death, injury and displacement, a far better outcome than the devastation that occurred in US-targeted cities.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 25 2018 16:26 utc | 6

@6 Yes and though it couldn't have been achieved without Russian air power we should also give Assad a lot of credit. He has shown more mercy that the 'rebels' deserve IMO. The diehard wahabis in Douma now have a tough choice to make.

Posted by: dh | Mar 25 2018 17:14 utc | 7

thanks b.. great overview and ultimately positive... they could take Jaish al Islam and relocate them to saudi arabia - the capital... see if they can practice their stupid religion in the host country that they get support from... of course it isn't religion - it's a death cult...

so, i am curious... what happens with the moderate headchopper folks who get relocated to afrin? are they supposed to join on with their turkish moderate headchoppers and get along?

Posted by: james | Mar 25 2018 17:26 utc | 9

The SAA can defeat anyone in Syria wherever they are able to concentrate their forces and yes, this includes the Turks and the U.S. backed SDF. While we in the West are caterwauling and thumping our chests, the SAA will take back Syria piece by piece.

The Jihadis near the Golan heights will probably be the last to go but the Syrians will not try to expect Israel from the 1967 Golan. They have no interest in starting a regional war. Assad has never attacked Israel. Assad has never done anything against the U.S. or Israel, this is one of the reasons that I detest the Neocons so much. We picked a fight against Syria without any cause whatsoever, just because we hate Iran so much. I'm convince that we would throw a baby and a litter of kittens off the Empire State building if it gave an Iranian ingestion for one day.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Mar 25 2018 17:43 utc | 10

I feel exactly the same Mr Chuba , but you also blame the new man in the White House who initially trying to get in contact Mr Assad but all failed because the Zionist controlled deep state including the state Dept and the pentagon.
But lik you said , president Assad and the Syrian army will get back Syrian lands bit by bit , the Syrian are famous for being patient. Thanks you for your comment.

Posted by: Bobby | Mar 25 2018 18:27 utc | 11

Great article b

Just one disagreement, I think the next pocket to be eliminated is the one north of Homs. they are too much of a threat to the strategic transport and resource corridors that Syria needs to speed its' civilian recovery. However should the ISIS groups released by the US from the al Tanf pocket become too much of a threat, or should Israel attempt an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities by flying along the southern Syrian border then the SAA focus will shift to the south, but more towards the the Al Tanf pocket than Derra or Golan.

Posted by: les7 | Mar 25 2018 18:36 utc | 12

Some of the rebels do not seem to know where they are going. Interview with rebels on a green bus with English subtitles.

Walid @walid970721 on Twitter

Syrian TV journalist Jafar Younis boarded one of the buses bound for Idlib from East Ghouta and had an interesting conversation with some of the armed militants. They confirm food hoarding by NATO proxy groups. Worth watching.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Mar 25 2018 19:14 utc | 13

@les7 12
I doubt that al Tanf is any threat. SAA says it has it contained, it's an isolated area, and it's in wide open desert where anything that moves is highly visible.
More likely I think is east of the Euphrates near Deir Ezzor, for one thing as revenge for a recent Russian defeat. CNN has reported a build-up of "regime" forces east of the river, and reports are that YPG forces have left the "American sector" for Afrin. Pro-government forces better have a capable air defense if they move again.
In any case it's not our call and I'm sure they'll probably do the right thing.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 25 2018 19:36 utc | 14

While the leadership of the group was negotiating with the government side some of the group fired barrages of missiles into Damascus city and killed dozens of people. Shortly thereafter two dozen of foreigners who had been fighting with Faylaq al-Rahman turned up dead. Having eliminated those irreconcilable elements Faylaq al-Rahman burned its headquarter and agreed to be transferred.
----------------------------------------------------
Just wondering who these two dozens of foreign fighters are?

I read from a Chinese article claiming US and Isreali special forces embedded in E. Ghouta frontlines.

Posted by: mali | Mar 25 2018 20:04 utc | 15

"The Syrian Arab Army has cleaned the east-Ghouta pocket in a less than a month. This was only possible because Turkey had a great incentive to keep other areas, especially in Idleb, reasonably quiet. To allow Turkey to take the Afrin canton from unruly Kurdish forces was thus in exchange for east-Ghouta."
I strongly doubt this tit for tat-theory. It must be known to all parties that Erdo will never give up the newly conquered territory, so I don't think Assad would have agreed.

Posted by: Pnyx | Mar 25 2018 20:15 utc | 16

What good are the TOWs against SAA tanks?
Russian technology has shown it can defeat TOWs.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Mar 25 2018 21:01 utc | 17

@ AriusArmenian | 17

What good are the TOWs against SAA tanks?
Russian technology has shown it can defeat TOWs.

Only T-90, SAA has just a few of them.

@ mali | 15

I read from a Chinese article claiming US and Isreali special forces embedded in E. Ghouta frontlines.

Russians claim the same, many Western countries have their special forces directly fighting SAA. I doubt though these were among dead foreign fighters, most likely some Chechens.

Posted by: Harry | Mar 25 2018 21:17 utc | 18

Posted by: Pnyx | Mar 25, 2018 4:15:25 PM | 16

Don't be so sure. Consider this:
- Syria and Russia want to teach traitorous Kurds a lesson for partnering with the Anglo-Zio Empire;

- Erdogan has already announced Manbij and Kobane are next in line to be crushed;

- For Syria and Russia, this tit-for-tat is a gambit worth taking, considering Turkey's rapidly deteriorating relations with its ZATO allies (primarily the fork-tongued USA establishment). Once the war is over and Syria is liberated of "moderate headchoppers", Turkey's withdrawal will be settled at a green table. Erdo will be given an offer he can't refuse - either take the economic bone thrown at you or face the economic wrath of the Big Bear and be left outside in the cold for all of eternity (no chance in hell that the soon-to-be-gone EU would offer a full-fledged membership to Turkey, after leaving it in its waiting room for the last 70 years). Not to speak of other, more sinister methods at Russia's disposal to wage a war against Turkey on their turf, like cosying up with the Kurds.

_____________________________

Thanks for wrapping it up, b! With the current cautious tactical moves, the Syrian war surely starts to feel like a game of chess.

Posted by: LXV | Mar 25 2018 21:18 utc | 19

Great summation, b. And great to see more on the actual murderous activities of the AAZ Empire. Blowing the cover on the fraud that is the alleged CW attack in England is important, but Syria is where the action actually is.

Yes, something prevented the US from carrying out the major offensive that seemed imminent. Russia did move AA systems to the south after that Israeli F-16 was shot down. BTW: I haven’t seen a report of a single Israeli incursion into Lebanese or Syrian airspace since then. Considering how frequently they’d attacked Syria previously, I think a message was sent and received. I also think the Israeli admission to having bombed an alleged nuclear site in Syria years ago could have been a sop to bruised Israeli egos.

After the US killed Russian nationals and Syrian forces along the banks of the Euphrates River, Russia and Syria both released statements that the US was not welcome, and should leave.

But I do not believe the Empire has given up. Remember that the plan since at least the 1980s has been to Balkanize Syria into as many as 5 impotent statelets.

Don, as I understand it, al Tanf is crucial to AAZ aspirations since it will be used to cut off transportation between Syria and Iraq (and points east and west). The US has built a substantial military base there. Thousands of ISIL fighters and their arms were transported there by the Kurds who “conquered” Raqqa.

The Empire is building forces along the Jordan/Syria border, and every indication is the plan not killed for a massive offensive coming up from the south/east to recapture der Ezoir and create another “autonomous” region like currently exists east/north of the Euphrates River.

Meanwhile, Turkey is now moving to capture even more Syrian territory in the west/north, up to the banks of the Euphrates (if not all the way across to Iraq as Erdogan has threatened). Turkey has wanted Aleppo since at least 1919.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 25 2018 21:38 utc | 20

Pynx @16

I am skeptical of this interpretation too.

Note: There are a number of people that have expressed skeptical of Erdogan’s loyalties and his anti-Western rhetoric. Erdogan is still an Islamist that wants to see Assad overthrown.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 25 2018 21:46 utc | 21

Watching videos of the “rebels” boarding the busses in East Ghouta, I saw a LOT of White helmets guys wandering around. As usual, they fled with the moderate headchoppers.

But I noticed a LOT of guys in sparkling, new purple costumes assisting the retreat, so I enlarged a screen shot and saw they are another NGO called “Violet Syria.”

So, I went to their website, and followed links to their “partners” and sure enough, all Western-funded “color revolution” types.

Violet Syria was founded in 2014 in Turkey, just as White helmets had been a year earlier. Their sponsors include the International Rescue Committee, whose President and CEO is David Miliband, a former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom.

This group may deserve a more thorough investigation.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 25 2018 21:52 utc | 22

@Daniel 20
. . .al Tanf is crucial to AAZ aspirations since it will be used to cut off transportation between Syria and Iraq (and points east and west).
I know that is said, but I don't understand it. There are cleared highway connections from Baghdad to Damascus via al Qaim, Abu Kamal, Deir Ezzor and Palmyra, plus a rail connection to Homs, shown here. From Haditha to Damascus there's not much difference in distance. The highway isn't as good but that doesn't make it crucial. Perhaps somebody who's actually been there (I haven't) can clarify the situation. Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has recently said that U.S. military presence in Syria generally and in the area of Al-Tanf specifically was illegal and unacceptable.

Thousands of ISIL fighters and their arms were transported there by the Kurds who “conquered” Raqqa.
Really? Link for that? In September 2017 the US reported that coalition troops and their Syrian partner forces — known as the Maghawir al-Thawra, or Commandos of the Revolution — are still located at Tanf. They fought ISIS in southern Syria. By 20 November, between 40 and 60 fighters were still in the group here.

. .every indication is the plan not killed for a massive offensive coming up from the south/east to recapture der Ezoir
You've been reading Petri Krohn. There are no such indications.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 25 2018 23:53 utc | 23

I'm increasingly mystified by the rumors(?) that the US has circa 20 military bases inside Syria. Do the Yanks not understand that all of Syria is within easy range of cruise missiles launched from Russia?
Can they not see that this base & bunker mentality, borrowed from their idiotically fruitless AfPak campaign, is a disaster waiting to happen?
The trouble with bunker-bases is that everyone knows where they are and can circumvent them until the nuisance effect becomes overwhelming, leaving no sensible option other than to destroy them.
If there's any logic to this strategy, it's way over my head...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 26 2018 0:03 utc | 24

@HW 24
Perhaps twenty US bases is high, but there is evidence of at least a dozen with ~1,500 troops. Most of the bases are in Kurdistan as shown here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 26 2018 0:34 utc | 25

Hoarsewhisperer @24--

Your description reminds me of the Maginot Line and the "island" firebases used in Vietnam. But judging from what's being offloaded in Jordan, it looks like the Outlaw US Empire's offensive will come from there. Russia is also pouring in men and equipment. The rhetorical diplomatic screws are being tightened rapidly by Russia too--Outlaw US Empire's been formally accused of abetting terrorism at the recent meet at MoFA, which I linked to on open thread.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 26 2018 0:56 utc | 26

@22 daniel... interesting - violet syria.. thanks for picking that up.. keep us up to date if you find out more.. thanks..

Posted by: james | Mar 26 2018 0:57 utc | 27

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 25, 2018 8:34:04 PM | 25

Thanks for trying Don, but pointing out that the bases are in an imaginary country doesn't do much to explain the underlying/over-arching logic.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 26 2018 0:59 utc | 28

@HW 28
Well pardon me for mentioning an imaginary country, answering your lack of knowledge about where the US bases are in Syria. I'm really sorry I offended you. Your feeling are of top concern to me. Not.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 26 2018 1:06 utc | 29

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 25, 2018 9:06:13 PM | 29

Sorry you got your nose out of joint. That wasn't my intention.
Were you trying to say that setting up bases in an imaginary country (unrecognised by Syria & Turkey et al) forms the basis of the underlying/over-arching US logic?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 26 2018 1:29 utc | 30

Don, yes, my understanding is that transportation is still open even with the major US base at al Tanf. My point was that "Coalition" fighters moving up from al Tanf and Jordan would sever that route.

I don't recall which source specified ISIL going to al Tanf. This article says the 4,000 to 5,000 ISIL terrorists were trucked to der Ezoir. But der Ezoir had already been retaken by SAA, and there was no report of ISIL vs. SAA fighting after the removal.

http://www.newsweek.com/us-secret-deal-isis-fighters-flee-battle-russia-syria-ally-742474

This article merely states they drove "southeast into the desert." But of course, el Tanf is southeast of Raqqa.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/isis-fighters-smuggled-out-of-raqqa-by-us-uk-and-kurds-bbc-claims-1.3293105

You apparently don't recall the shock expressed even in the MSM at how easily the SDF/Kurds took Raqqa once the SAA rapidly spread up from der Ezoir.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 26 2018 1:46 utc | 31

BTW:

Israel Quietly Begins Practicing for Possible War With Russia


Posted by: Daniel | Mar 26 2018 1:59 utc | 32

Apparently not needless to say, the Pentagon has not provided a map of the military bases they illegally constructed in Syria. Turkey did release such a map last year, and Don provides that snippet. This site shows those bases over the whole of Syria, including at al Tanf.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/is-the-expanding-u-s-military-presence-in-syria-legal/

Yes, the illegal US bases Turkey revealed were almost all in the region east/north of the Euphrates River that is clearly being promoted as one of those impotent statelets if the AAZ Empire succeeds in destroying the sovereign country of Syria.

There is no such a thing as "Kurdistan," especially in Syria, where only 6% of the population was Kurdish in 2010. Estimates today are as high as 10%, what with all the "immigrants" from Turkey, where 1/2 of all the world's Kurdish people live. Even in Iraq where there are far more Kurds than in Syria, and US/Israeli influence had permitted the creation of a Kurdish semi-autonomous region, when the Barzani gang bit off more than they could chew several months back, Iraqi forces moved in and shut that thing down.

And there is no way the people of Syria are going to accept 6% of their population to declare 1/3 of the country (including 1/2 of its petroleum resources) a separate "Kurdistan."

Personally, I'm ambivalent about the Kurds. But history is clear that the AAZ Empire uses and abuses them for Empire's geopolitical goals. President Assad has been remarkably patient with the Syrian Kurds, so I hope they realize they're best off realigning with their country, now that Turkey is showing them exactly how important they are to the Empire. ie. "we hope Turkey kills the minimum number of innocent Kurdish civilians."

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 26 2018 2:32 utc | 33

@18 harry Some T72s have been upgraded with sarab-2 (syrian version of shtora) anti atgm as well.

@all Does anyone know Russian journalist Maxim Shuchkov from Al Monitor?
Here is a Twitter thread about « UNCONFIRMED reports about #Russia and #US moves in #Syria over 24 hours »

https://twitter.com/msuchkov_alm/status/978009842492301312?s=21

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 26 2018 3:00 utc | 34

Lozion 34

Syria is the battlefield chosen by Russia. The jihadi groups in the US may or may not take the green bus.
If Russia backs them down here, like with the jihadi groups of Idlib, the infighting will begin in the US and possibly UK.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 26 2018 3:20 utc | 35

For those (rightfully) concerned about New Eastern Outlook getting effectively shut down, this site has published the letter NEO posted, but few have been able to see. I don't know if they'll try to keep posting NEO's articles, but this is worth reading.

"However, it’s likely to get worse, as the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Heather Nauert has stated that the State Department believes that fighting Russia, Iran and China-based media sources to be its top priority. To bring down Russia-based media sources alone, US Congress is going to allocate 250 million dollars this year."

https://christopher-black.com/the-war-on-the-people-silencing-the-truth/

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 26 2018 3:42 utc | 36

@Daniel 33
But of course, el Tanf is southeast of Raqqa.
No. Look at the map and info I sent you -- al Tanf is:
>SSW of Raqqa, not SE
>occupied by a few anti-ISIS forces
>much less accessible from Raqqa than Deir Ezzor

Your sensitivity to the Kurdistan label is noted. You and Horsewhisper make a good dance set.

Thanks for the map. One correction: Zakaf outpost 45 mi E of al Tanf was abandoned in September reported here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 26 2018 3:51 utc | 37

@Lozion US forces under President Trump are not Russia's target in the region...

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Mar 26 2018 4:23 utc | 38

Don Bacon
SE/SW? Although when I always know where the sun comes up and where the sun goes down, when I am speaking or writing (wood pecker style), I often confuse east with west. A major problem for me. Not compass direction but words.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 26 2018 4:32 utc | 39

@34 lozion.. i wouldn't trust almonitor very much of this guy from georgetown university and etc... i find the info from almonitor comes across as some kind of propaganda site mixed with relevant info... maxim shuchkov - nice russian name, but he seems to be working for the west, as does almonitor..

don b, daniel and hoarsewhisper.. can't we all get along? lol...

daniel - al tanf is south west of raqqa and diez ezzor..

as for kurdistan.. it sure seems like a made in the usa-israel project to me.. the kurds are more fragmented then they appear to be under the one name - kurds... that is what i know.. however, those who would like to put a spoke in the wheel of syria would be interested in suggesting they are a unified bunch.. well, we see how barzani who represented the kurd mafia in iraq were not that unified.. i think usa-israel would like to set up something similar in syria, but in fact the kurds did not take up that much land mass or have that kind of control prior to the usa-israels involvement.. i think this is a made in the usa-israel project for sure.. sorry if i have offended someone.. i am usually pretty good at offending, lol...

Posted by: james | Mar 26 2018 4:37 utc | 40

@Peter AU 1 39
It's easy to get confused if one sits just any which-way. So the solution is to shift the furniture and always face north when you're pecking away on your laptop, that way you'll never be confused. Guaranteed. East is to the right and west to the left. It works for birds also, because of that magnetic thingy in their brain. (That might work for Daniel also. Not sure.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 26 2018 4:46 utc | 41

@40 Txs james, thats what I suspected, please disregard the post..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 26 2018 4:47 utc | 42

Viva Kurdistan!

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 26 2018 4:51 utc | 43

@ Don
I happen to be sitting facing north and have been doing for some time when I cannot do much else.
I spent a number of years and a lot of hours in the air with a compass and GPS in front of me. When communicating with the men on the ground, I still had this problem. I would say east when I knew it was west (sunup/sundown) and vice versa. Seems to be a mind thing.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 26 2018 4:53 utc | 44

mali 35 "US and Isreali special forces embedded"

Assets is the word. Add Brits.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 26 2018 5:09 utc | 45

Iraqi forces take control of entire Sinjar region after PKK withdrawal (almasdarnews)

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:55 A.M.) – The Iraqi Armed Forces took full control of the Sinjar region of the Nineveh Governorate following the withdrawal of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

According to local activists in Sinjar, the PKK forces completely withdrew from the western part of this region after Turkey announced that they were planning a military operation there.

The activists added that the Yezidi-led Hashd Al-Sha’abi forces took control of the area.

Since the withdrawal of the PKK forces from Sinjar, Turkey called off their operations in this region in Iraq’s northwestern countryside.

---------------------------

Same thing was offered by Syria to Afrin Kurds, but they were too stubborn (stupid?) and lost thousands of Kurds fighters, and for what? To hold the territory which wasnt theirs to begin with?

Posted by: Harry | Mar 26 2018 6:35 utc | 46

Recent Saudi "intercept" of Houthis missiles, Patriots in action. It seems they are very good at intercepting... ground targets :)) Check flightpath of the 2nd missile, impressive!

https://youtu.be/2451BLy4Ds8

Posted by: Harry | Mar 26 2018 8:58 utc | 47

re 47. There are quite a number of videos. I wouldn't like to say which points of light were Patriots, and which Houthi Scuds.

The interesting point point is that the Houthis entirely achieved their aim, that is getting at least one missile to detonate over Riyadh.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 26 2018 9:39 utc | 48

Daniel @31

Rather than the 5000 quoted a more commonly discussed figure at the time was around 2500. This bunch was rounded up into one or more convoys. There were smaller groups trying to head north but the main force headed east then south east, tracking about 100km east of the Euphrates. There is no clear agreement as to where they ended up but my bet would be the large area of Syria on the Iraqi border shown in all maps as an ISIS area. The US seems to be keeping them there until they can be used.

It is in my view unlikely that, apart from very low numbers, that they got to the US Al-Tanf 'reservation' as they would have had to cross extremely hostile SAA controlled territory.

Once things are sorted out in the west of Syria, that ISIS area I mentioned in the east sticks out like a sore thumb as a target area especially as the US is doing nothing about it. This is probably part of the reason for the current slow build up east of the river in the Deir area. The Syrian Government will not want that ISIS group to strike west and interrupt the road in from Iraq. If the past is anything to go by the PMU will join in to stop cross border escape routes. Not sure how the US PR machine would handle trying to stop the SAA hitting the largest group of ISIS in Syrai.

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 26 2018 22:56 utc | 49

Don, OK. al Tanf is slightly west of due south of Raqqa, and clearly not southeast. It's the US military base at al Zkuf that is to the southwest.


Regardless, my point was that Kurdish/SDF truck and bus drivers (under orders of the US) removed 4,000+ ISIL fighters and their weaponry to points south, rather than continue to fight them. This was done just as the SAA was building a Russian-supplied mobile bridge to cross the Euphrates River near der Ezoir, which was reported as a race with SDF to the last of the Syrian oil fields on that side of the river. If the Kurds/SDF had continued fighting for Raqqa, the SAA would have recaptured that oil field.

Instead, those ISIL fighters were taken somewhere between Der Ezoir and the border with Iraq, which would put them in position to cut off that transport route which is what this digression was about.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 26 2018 22:58 utc | 50

Aaargghhh. al Zkuf that is to the southEAST, not west.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 26 2018 22:59 utc | 51

Laguerre @48

At that stage in their flight the Houti missiles would have been flying 'dark' with all their propellent being long gone. Invisible to the naked eye as well. As you say, job done, they just got the Saudis to shoot themselves. There appears to be no information as to where any of the Houti missiles landed.

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 26 2018 23:01 utc | 52

JohninMK. I've seen the 4,000 to 5,000 figure at multiple sources (citing the drivers), but I don't think any toll tickets were punched to take head counts. ;-)

"Not sure how the US PR machine would handle trying to stop the SAA hitting the largest group of ISIS in Syrai."

The US/Western propaganda machine will simply rebrand them as they've done so many times with so many groups. What was the name for the planned 60,000 strong army Pentagon was floating a few weeks ago? NEW Syrian Army, I think it was.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 26 2018 23:07 utc | 53

Daniel, fair enough but I would say that the 4-5000 figure would include families. Even that seems very high.

Just look at the logistics that the Syrian Government is having to use in E Ghouta to move 1000s of people without possessions there, dozens upon dozens, if not hundreds, of coaches. The videos of the ISIS evacuation had few coaches but lots of pickups and open grain trucks and they were moving goods and ammo and weapons as well as people, few were fully loaded. At that packing density they would have needed hundreds of vehicles and I can't see how that many could have survived the SDF/US onslaught, let alone how they would have enough fuel, food and water for the trip.

Rate me as cynical.

Agree with your rebranding tho'.

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 27 2018 10:37 utc | 54

The US strategy is to destroy enemy-held cities, as we have seen recently in Aleppo, Raqqa and Mosul plus others, even using B-52 heavy bombers which can carry 70,000 pounds of bombs. The US Air Force said not to worry, they only used "precision munitions" against "military targets." Baloney, see the results of US aerial bombing here with Raqqa destroyed.
Russia ....

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 25, 2018 12:26:02 PM | 6

Quibble: what did US do in Aleppo? Another quibble is that in sieges where Americans participated there were opportunities to release civilians from besieged cities as well, terrorists (or insurgents) are rather weary of such bargains for obvious reasons.

The fact remains that the West is always on the prowl for badges of moral superiority, and precision of weaponry is one of them. As their flacks note, "dumb weapons" are inherently indiscriminate, while "intelligent weapons" have a potential, sometimes fulfilled, to tell the difference between belligerents and innocents. E.g. Canadian allies in Afghanistan were at one occasion precisely identified as belligerent and annihilated, and Canucks being pathologically nice hardly objected. (This is an example on the difference between precision and accuracy, numerical coordinates of the targets are very close to the true position but the classification target/non-target is deficient.) But the percentage of smart weapons is higher and so is the moral standing.

Some criteria for moral superiority are remarkably malleable. When Israel was pummeling Lebanon in 2006 we learned that the argument for "proportionality" is phony because of asymmetry. What does asymmetry mean? It is something deeply wicked, but a bit unclear why. The best I could figure out is that a weaker party in a conflict is inherently guilty of being asymmetric and thus forcing the stronger side to be disproportional -- the fault is entirely on those asymmetric rascals. But mere 2008 later Russia was accused of disproportionality when Georgia shot at her troops and the population under her protection. And no condemnation of Georgia of being sneakily asymmetric. (There were also commentaries of Hezbollah that Georgia hired wrong instructors who were not familiar with war methods that are suitable under conditions of numerical and material disadvantage, Hezbollah would teach Georgians much better than Israelis. Perhaps, but the "moral advantage", i.e. Western sympathy, would be gone. One has to choose.)

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 27 2018 22:14 utc | 55

Typo: "mere 2008 later" -> "mere 2 years later"

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 27 2018 22:16 utc | 56

Potr re. civilians being allowed by US to flee assaults:

Mosul residents were told not to flee before airstrikes that killed civilians.

On the other hand, ISIL fighters were allowed to retreat from Mosul and drive their Toyota caravan to Syria.


Posted by: Daniel | Mar 28 2018 0:28 utc | 57

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