Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 29, 2018

Syria Sitrep - Turkey's War In Idleb

The Syrian government issued Property Law 10 (ar) which will help to rebuild the country. Martin Chulov of the Guardian falsely reported: 10m Syrians at risk of forfeiting homes under new property law. The Syrian-American economist Ehsani explains why the Guardian report is wrong. He summarizes:

Without legislation, imagine people returning to say Jobar in Damascus or Bustan al-Basha in Aleppo and starting to build on their own. What code? What property lines? What legal basis? What about the infrastructure underneath? Law 10 is the State's legislative blueprint.


In 2012 UN blue helmets from Austria  controlled the demarcation line with Israel at the Golan heights. They watched as Takfiris ('smugglers'), likely coming from Israel, set up an ambush. Nine Syrian border policemen pass through the UN checkpoint but are not warned. They drive into the Takfiri ambush. All are killed. An Austrian whistle-blower gave the video (ger) to a local paper in Vienna. The Austrian Defense Ministry is investigating the case.


Today tribal forces aligned with the Syrian government attacked and captured two villages (map) controlled by the U.S. proxy force in east Syria north of the Euphrates near Deir Ezzor city. The Kurdish U.S. proxy forces SDF vowed revenge. This might be a local incident but could develop into something bigger. While the U.S. claims exclusive rights north of the Euphrates and to fight ISIS in the area zero progress has been made since November. The U.S. wants keep ISIS alive and well to later reuse it for its own purposes. The Syrian government is trying to disrupt that plan.

The Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk, a southern suburb of Damascus, is held by ISIS and some other Takfiri groups.The Syrian army surrounded it and is attacking it with full force. Today all groups but ISIS agreed to either leave Yarmouk to Idelb (Jaish al-Islam) or Daraa (Jaish Ababil Huran) or to reconcile with the Syrian government. ISIS plans to fight to death in the densely upbuild area. Only few civilians are left and the Syrian army will not risk high casualties for the otherwise empty city. The ISIS fighters will be bombed and shelled to smithereens.

While one part of the Syrian army is eliminating ISIS in Yarmouk another part has moved north towards Homs and might go further up to Idleb.

Meanwhile the Turks are trying to tackle the al-Qaeda (aka Jabhat al-Nusra aka Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) problem in Idelb province. Erdogan's long term plan is to annex Idleb governorate for Turkey. But as long as al-Qaeda controls the governorate and city Turkey can not claim that the 'de-escalation zone' is off-limits for Syrian government attacks. It needs to hide or eliminate al-Qaeda and any other group that can be painted as 'terrorist'.

Map by Tomasz Rolbiecki - bigger

A while ago the 'western' aligned Crisis Group devised a plan for Erdogan:

What should be done?  Turkey should deploy along the front line in cooperation with Russia, which should press the Syrian regime to delay, or even desist from, its assault. This would buy time for renewed Turkish efforts to curtail transnational jihadist influence within HTS in favour of militants more open to de-escalation and compromise.

First Turkey tried to 'curtail' al-Qaeda by open force. In February 'Syrian rebel' groups under Turkish control launched a war on al-Qaeda in Idleb. It was waged over two month and sent more than 1,000 'rebels' an both sides to hell. Al-Qaeda held on to its position and even made some gains. A week ago a ceasefire was arranged but that did not suffice the Turkish plans. The al-Qaeda problem is still there.

Yesterday an UAE journo pointed to this report and wrote:

Hassan Hassan حَسَنْ @hxhassan - 12:32 UTC- 28 Apr 2018

Turkish officials met with leaders of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Nusra) and gave them an ultimatum to save Idlib: either dissolve the group & individually join other groups, or Turkey will throw its full weight behind other groups to fight it.

The 'full weight' would likely include Turkish troops but no air support as Russia controls the airspace in west-Syria. But Turkey also has other means. During the last 48 hours more than 30 mid-level leaders of al-Qaeda in Syria and of other groups resistant to Turkish pressure were assassinated by IEDs or 'unknown gunmen'. The Turkish friendly propaganda claims that ISIS sleeper cells are the culprit. I believe that the assassination campaign is the work of the Turkish secret service MIT.

How will al-Qaeda respond? Will it submit to the will of the wannabe Caliph Erdogan or will it fight?

Turkey has several small static observation posts around Idleb. These need to be supplied. If al-Qaeda, which controls the border to Turkey, cuts off Turkish supplies, what will Erdogan do? What if al-Qaeda takes the fight into Turkey?

Posted by b on April 29, 2018 at 17:21 UTC | Permalink


'b', you have presented a can of Erdogan worms for us to fish with.

Idlib annexed?
The Turks are partners to the DEZ, but still have no authoritative presence on the ground, unlike the Russians in the south of the Zone.

It is very interesting how you point out the same process by US in the East and Erdogan in Idlib. They each desperately want to protect their proxies. And both will lose them to Russian bombs and missiles, Syrian artillery and armor, and allied forces that will fight to clear them all.

The magic bullet solution will be the S-300/S-400 missile and air platform defenses the Russians are bringing to theater. Once the defacto NO FLY is in place, Putin will control Syrian airspace. And Syrian Army with allies will eventually clear East, North and Idlib and Daraa zones.

It has been long coming, mainly, so the resources of the Turks and Americans are attenuated in costly failures. Idlib was strategic. Russia and Syria devised it to be a charnel house for the crazies. They killed one another for months right on cue. Now, the Turks have to kill more leadership among the wanton groups.

When the real pressure comes from the skies and the artillery, despite enormous numbers of all the "fighters", no amount of money paid by Israel, Turkey, US, Saudi, and Qatar will be worth the outcome. We see the will to fight less and less in each major battle. They are broken, though many still are lethal and treacherous (murdering their own negotiatiors again and again).

Bases in the East and the North by the US and by Erdogan are meaningless when the skies will belong to Putin. Logistics will determine the final resolution in Syria.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Apr 29 2018 17:55 utc | 1

@2 RR who writes 'Bases in the East and the North by the US and by Erdogan are meaningless when the skies will belong to Putin. Logistics will determine the final resolution in Syria.'

While I don't disagree, the actual effectiveness of the vaunted S series defense still remains to be 'actually' tested no?

Could be just a bluff yet to be called....Yes?

Posted by: Tannenhouser | Apr 29 2018 18:25 utc | 2

RE: Red Ryder @2
There are some commentators who seem to think that Putin has chosen not to deploy the S-300s to Syria.

Posted by: Perimetr | Apr 29 2018 18:42 utc | 3

thanks b.. most informative.. essentially nothing has changed east of the euphrates or in idlib... what would change east of the euphrates is if russia was to impose a no fly zone, which presently i believe the usa has imposed.. the recent news of saa on the east side of euphrates is interesting here.. i suspect the dynamic in idlib will continue until russia is ready to deal with it.. headchoppers knocking off headchoppers and erdogan no further ahead.. it would be interesting if they brought there game back to turkey.. as for the kurds and usa.. not sure how that is going to develop..

Posted by: james | Apr 29 2018 18:50 utc | 4

@4 No one will know for sure until it fires..

Posted by: Lozion | Apr 29 2018 18:54 utc | 5

Tannenhouser 3

Regfarding the effectiveness of S-330/400, it is worth recalling US efforts to get the deconfliction line back running after Obama's attack on Deir Ezzor. That was when Russia shut down the deconfliction line and told US their aircraft would be tracked as targets.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 29 2018 19:16 utc | 6

James 5

Follow Follow @Brasco_Aad
The #Russia-n Air Force seems to be giving air support to the #Syria-n Army engaging #US/backed #SDF terrorists along the Euphrates!

May or may not turn out to be correct but if Russian aircraft are operating east of the Euphrates that will be a game changer.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 29 2018 19:25 utc | 7

PeterAU1@7 Agreed, yet like Lozion says at 6...........

Posted by: Tannenhouser | Apr 29 2018 19:38 utc | 8

Over at SST there was a post about Russian air defences a couple of weeks ago:

Give the old boy his due. He was inoculating the ridiculous operation against legitimate criticism by simply being able to point out that any information contrary to what the Pentagon said was "propaganda." Of course, the enlisted and officers that staff the CAOC know differently. The Russians and Syrians were not lying when they claimed to have downed more than 70 of the U.S., UK and French missiles.

I understand the reluctance of the U.S. military leaders to admit the truth about this debacle. It would undermine the confidence of the American people is our supposedly invincible weapon systems and would embarrass and enrage the man child that inhabits the White House. Better to tell him lies and let him believe the fantasy. But this is a very dangerous game. So far the Russians have not pursued significant PR efforts to expose the U.S. lie about the missiles. Maybe they are choosing to keep quiet, like a good poker player, and not tip their hand to the American public. One of these days Trump and company will over bet in trusting the Russians not to punch back (and punch back hard) and the American people will be in for a rude awakening. They will discover that the Russians have a decided advantage over us when it comes to air defense.

A friend of mine who has expertise in these matters wrote me:

Any air defense engineer with a security clearance that isn't lying through his teeth will admit that Russia's air defense technology surpassed us in the 1950's and we've never been able to catch up. The systems thy have in place surrounding Moscow make our Patriot 3's look like fucking nerf guns.

Finally there is the matter of the Russians as a second rate military masquerading as a world power. Another friend who has spoken with military commanders in the CENTCOM AOR told me:

All of the knowledgeable aircraft commanders are usually scared shitless about the prospect of a legitimate air-to-air skirmish with a SU-30 or any Russian air superiority fighter.

Two comments here:
1. The Russians have a very different view of air defense to the Americans which is a response to the vast size of Russia - Russian fighters might be highly maneuverable but they are also big, fast and can carry a large load out because they are intended to be used as highly mobile missile launchers rather that air superiority fighters. I suspect the first aircraft to be shot down if the Russians and Americans get it on won't be the fighters/bombers but the AWACs and re-fueling tankers. All those F-22s and F-35s might end up performing a single mission.

2. The United States has a long history of calling the Soviet Union/Russia liars but then being found out to be the liars themselves. For example, for a long time the U.S. stated that Soviet claims about the Japanese biological and chemical warfare Unit 731 were communist lies. Why does anyone still believe anything coming out of Washington?

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Apr 29 2018 21:49 utc | 9

With tonights's Israeli missile strike on Syria, the S-300 looks like it will be coming soon.

Syria is strategic for many reasons to Russia. Economics, projection as Super Power, weapons sales, gas and oil nexus Russia influences, prevention of competitor gas pipelines, etc.

Controlling air space over Lebanon, Syria and the vicinity is imperative.

The Russian military must be screaming for more S-300 and S-400s.

What is the down side for Russia?

Should have been done the day after the massacre east of Deir ez Zor that killed scores of Russian Wagner contractors and which Pompeo and Mattis have both crowed about in public, on the record.
The glee at butchering those Russians should be reason enough to shut the skies over Syria.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Apr 29 2018 22:40 utc | 10

@8 Same source:

Enormous #Israel/i airstrikes on the #IRGC tonight in #Hama governorate. Unconfirmed: Huge underground missile facility and dozens upon dozens of advanced surface to surface missiles have been destroyed, hence the outworldly explosions.

Israel is DIRECTLY attacking #Iran

Posted by: Lozion | Apr 29 2018 23:58 utc | 11

Israel is embolded by Trump's decision to kill the Iran Nuclear deal. They will target all Iranian bases in Syria if the Russians are not imposing a no fly zone on all Syria. Israel wants to prevent this to happen. They will deploy all they can to demonize Russia with false flags.
The weakest link is Lebanon, that has no protection, no anti aircraft defense and a weak army. Hezbollah is main target of Israelis attacks but Israel will not hesitate to bomb all of lebanon to give it 'a lesson'. Yet Hezbollah is a strong force and it is quite possible that it will provoke Israel into confrontation to decrease the pressure on Syria.
This confrontation will be more painful for Israel than 2006 and it is possible that Israel would try to avoid it for fear of civilian casualties that may cause a political crisis.
The trouble is that Lebanon may again pay the heavy price of Israeli blind bombings, without any international intervention.
It is necessary that Lebanon approaches Russia and ask for protection, now.
The 12 of may will be a turning point toward wars if Trump kills the Iran deal.

Posted by: Virgile | Apr 30 2018 5:07 utc | 12

@Red Ryder,
One player is to be considered: Irak and its common aims about Kurdistans, limited Turks involvement and maintaining Syria as a whole united nation ISIS free.
This reinforce your analasys IMO.

Posted by: Charles Michael | Apr 30 2018 6:00 utc | 13

@ Virgil (12)

Iran can't risk a direct confrontation with Israel as long as the JCPOA is alive, for the diplomatic reasons. Israel knows this. When the US pulls out of the deal on May 12, which is almost certaintly they would, it's highly unlikely thet Israel will continue it's attack on Iranian assets. Israel will get the US/UK etc to fight it's war with Iran and when that happens, shit hits the fan.

SAA needs to clear out the remaining pockets as soon as possible and device a plan to eleminate the Takfiri problem before the grand war with Iran begins. SAA and Hizbollah will proove to be key in the conflict. In the grand scheme of things, SAA needs to lauch the war on Israel along with Hizbollah at the right time. The problem being that Syria at this point can't risk a major onslaught by any foreign nation.

Posted by: Fantome | Apr 30 2018 13:33 utc | 14

Israel will be the cause of much greater killing, unless they are stopped.

Posted by: Warren Schaich | Apr 30 2018 14:17 utc | 15

@8 peter.. thanks..

it seems to me before it was all the state players paying for their mercenary forces... usa / israel/ uk and etc - supporting moderate headchoppers and etc, or saudi arabia / uae and etc -supporting al qaeda, al nusra and isis and etc...

now it is the state players attacking syria openly... previously they were doing it behind the screen of proxy forces as listed above..

meanwhile the propaganda has continually ramped up on chemical attacks in syria and the west under the guidance of the uk/ israel or whoever even tried the skripal event to tie in the idea or russia being tacit in approving chemical weapon attacks on western countries soil no less...

so, here we are now with israel openly attacking syria, claiming whatever they claim and getting a full chorus line of news outlets to offer their sales pitch, while anyone paying attention to all this can see the same agenda is in place from 6- or 16 years ago - regime change in syria and complete war on iran at some point to look after israel... this shit is really crazy as we head towards ww3..

the cool head in the room - russia, isn't showing it's hand, but it is being given a challenging situation here as the only adult in the room...

meanwhile i see this morning iran is dropping the us$ as a currency... when did i last hear of that happening, lol!!

i can't see israel growing up any time soon.. i suspect they will drag the world into ww3, if that wasn't already obvious....

Posted by: james | Apr 30 2018 16:23 utc | 16

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