Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 19, 2018

Syria Sitrep - Liberating The M5 Highway, Syria's Economic Lifeline

In this situation report we look at the consolidation of the Syrian government space, discuss the upcoming operatitwelons to secure the vital M5 highway, clear up the S-300 confusion and provide a bit on the political developments.

Over the last twelve months the Syrian Arab Army and its allies made a lot of progress.

May 20 2017 - bigger

The government held area was extended to the Euphrates and the Syrian-Iraqi border. Deir Ezzor was liberated. The border to Lebanon was secured. All "rebel" enclaves within the government held areas (except the ISIS desert pocket) were consolidated.

May 19 2018 - bigger
After clearing up east-Ghouta east of the capital Damascus the  Syrian government forces were concentrated around the Yarmouk camp south of the city. Yarmouk, originally a Palestinian refugee camp, is a densely build-up area which was held by Islamic State fighters as well as "rebels" paid by foreign countries. The "rebels" have since given up and were evacuated to Idleb governorate. The ISIS held area is reduced to less than a square mile of dense urban terrain. There were contradicting reports today that the ISIS fighters had given up and were ready to evacuate. Whatever they decide the area will be liberated in a week or so. The Syrian capital will then be completely secure.

Until two weeks ago a large area around al-Rastan between Homs and Hama was still held by mostly local "rebel" forces. The Syrian government sent its Tiger forces and an ultimatum - give up or die. The "rebels" decided to avoid a fight which they would surely have lost. They agreed to be evacuated and were dumped into Idleb. Al-Rastan is back in government hands. This move freed the M5 highway between Homs and Hama.

The M5 highway is the main north-south artery of Syria. It connects Gaziantep in Turkey with Amman in Jordan. The highway runs through the main Syrian cities of Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus. Before the war started all transit traffic between Turkey and the rich Gulf countries as well as most of the internal Syrian commerce ran along this road. Turkey, Syria and Jordan have a common economic interest in securing and reopening this important lifeline.

M5 highway - bigger

The next strategic task for the Syrian army is therefore to secure the M5 highway in its full length.

In the south of Syria the M5 connection to Jordan runs through the eastern part of the "rebel" held area (green) towards al-Mafraq in Jordan. The border to Jordan is closed for the "rebels" and tightly controlled. There have been talks between Jordan and some of the "rebel" groups with the aim of ending the conflict in the south but they have so far failed.


The Syrian army has two possible ways to proceed in the south.

It could move from the northern border triangle of Lebanon, Syria and the Zionist occupied Golan heights (purple) southwards along the demarcation line and down to the border of Jordan. UN observers could return to the Golan demarcation line, monitor the operation and prevent it from escalating into a war with Israel. The move would isolate the al-Qaeda and ISIS "rebels" in the area from their Israeli supplies. The Takfiris could then be pressured from the west, north and east and a general cleanup would follow. The move would be militarily and politically dicey as Israel would probably try to prevent it. But it would also solve an important political problem once and for all. The Russian command should talk with Israel and discuss this plan. 

The politically and militarily easier move is to proceed from Daraa to the Jordan border and to thereby encircle the eastern part of the rebel held area. The eastern part can then be liberated slice by slice. This would allow for unhindered M5 traffic from Damascus towards al-Mafraq and Amman but it would leave the ISIS/al-Qaeda pocket along the occupied Golan heights as a festering problem.

In the north the M5 highway between Hama and Aleppo runs through the eastern part of the "rebel" held Idleb governorate. The Syrian army will have to take control of it before the road can be reopened. North of Aleppo towards Turkey the highway goes through an area which is currently controlled by Turkish forces. These are for now able to secure the road.

Idleb governorate is held by various "rebel" groups with the the al-Qaeda aligned Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) being the strongest one. Idleb had been declared a de-escalation zone under Astana rules and Turkey set up twelve observation points to watch over the border of the area. There has been an immense amount of infighting between HTS (dark green) and other "rebel" groups (light green).

by Suriyakmaps - bigger

On May 14 and 15 Turkish, Russian and Iranian negotiators met for the ninth round of Syria negotiations in Astana, Kazakhstan. There was no announced progress but the joint statement again emphasizes "the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria."

It was probably in Astana that an agreement was made about the northern part of the M5 highway. Shortly after the Astana talks a report by a well connected source (nicknamed after a Russian sniper hero) said that Turkey informed the "rebels" in Idleb governorate that they will have to evacuate the area east of the M5 highway between Hama and Aleppo. The Syrian army would move in to secure the highway. Should the "rebels" not follow the Turkish advice the Syrian army will move into Idleb governorate by force from the east and south to push the "rebels" westwards beyond the highway line.

As soon as the M5 is under full control Syria's commercial lifelines to all neighbors will be reestablished. The economy of Syria will then experience an urgently needed significant boost.


There have been discussion in the comments here and elsewhere about the Russian on and off announcement of S-300 air defenses in Syria. These discussions lacked military knowledge.

Air defenses are layered:

  • Local air defense uses man portable air defense missiles (MANPADs), 20 mm machine cannons and machine guns. Its reach is about 2,000 meters.
  • The next level are systems with a range of up to 20 kilometers. Syria has about 40 Pantsyr-S1/2 systems mounted on trucks. (The Russian forces in Syria have about 20 additional Pantsyr-S systems to protect their bases.) These are mobile and an excellent point defense for airports and other significant assets. During its last attack on Syria an Israeli missile could destroy one Pantsyr system only because it was being reloaded and could therefore not react. 
  • The next air defense layer are mid range systems like the Syrian S-200 or the more modern Russian BUK-2. These systems have a reach of about 150 kilometers. The old S-200 systems Syria currently uses are fired from fixed positions. That makes them extremely vulnerable to pre-programmed precision missile attacks. Israeli strikes have destroyed several such systems in Syria.
  • The fourth layer of air defense are high attitude, long range area defense systems. The U.S. has THAAD and Russia has the S-300/ S-400 systems. These have ranges beyond 300 kilometers.

The longer range systems of the higher layers always need additional protection by the lower layers. An S-300 missile costs several ten-thousands of dollars but can not defeat a small toy drone of the kind ISIS uses to drop hand-grenades onto targets. It needs be protected against these. Pantsyr systems and a few dozen men with MANPADs and machine-guns can do that. 

It would make no sense to drop S-300 systems into Syria without having established and secured sufficient air-defense layers 1, 2 and 3 below the long range class. They would soon go up in smoke. There are also additional elements of reconnaissance (radar and electronic warfare systems) and communication, command and control that need to be more sophisticated and widespread to operate S-300 systems. All these high end long range systems need highly trained operators and are very expensive.

What Syria currently needs are more Pantsyr systems. It urgently needs to replace the old S-200s with the modern and mobile BUK-2. These systems make way more sense for the Syrian battlefield than the famed S-300. They also have the advantage of being significantly cheaper. 

For a more general discussion of Russia's role in Syria beyond the S-300 nitpicking, I highly recommend the latest piece by Elijah Magnier: Russia is in the Middle East to halt the war, not take part in the Iran-Israel Conflict.


On May 14 the Syrian President Assad met the Russian President Putin in Sochi. They discussed the political process needed to bring an end to the war. Assad committed to UN supervised negotiations about constitutional changes in Syria but rejected the significant changes of the Syrian system which the outside powers wanted to impose. He said:

"We focused on the issue of the Constitutional Committee that should be established following the results of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. We expect to start the corresponding work with the UN. I have confirmed to President Putin today that Syria will send the list of its delegates to the Constitutional Committee to discuss amendments to the current Constitution. It will be done as soon as possible."

That this was said after a meeting with Putin confirms that the Russian attempt to write a new constitution for Syria is dead. There will be no semi-federalization for the Kurds or others which would weaken the central government and no measures that would weaken the position of a Syrian presidency. Amendments can be made, but the basic structure will stay.

Posted by b on May 19, 2018 at 17:58 UTC | Permalink


The Tor M2 air defense deserves mention and deployment in Syria as well

Posted by: Alaric | May 19 2018 18:48 utc | 1

The recovery of Syria seems to me pretty much on schedule, though it's going to be slow. There haven't been any setbacks recently, in spite of the US and Israeli attacks, which have not slowed things down.

What is unpredictable though is where they're going to attack next. Many predictions have been made about where they're going to attack, and they've most often been wrong. Probably they remain flexible, and choose opportunities that come up, as intelligence suggests.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 19 2018 18:53 utc | 2

re me

Setbacks, yeah. They didn't succeed in crossing the Euphrates.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 19 2018 18:55 utc | 3

Txs b for the great recap.

Posted by: Lozion | May 19 2018 18:57 utc | 4

"Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced on Thursday a resolution that could lead to an historic recognition by the United States that the contested area fully belongs to Israel, according to a copy of the amendment obtained by the Washington Free Beacon."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | May 19 2018 19:01 utc | 5

Excellent summary!
I have an idea for a topic I would like you to write about if that's ok.
How do I send the idea to you?

Posted by: Jl | May 19 2018 19:01 utc | 6

Thank you for another in a series of enlightening updates, b. Please note (4th map down) close-up of southwestern Syria cites in parenthesis 'pink' as the color assigned to identify the occupied Golan Heights. It should be the color blue or perhaps purple.

Posted by: metni | May 19 2018 19:07 utc | 7

The latest twits on Twitter claim that ISIS of Yarmouk enclave will evacuate to undisclosed location, perhaps the enclave surrounded by SAA. When Russian active aid started, there were perhaps dozens of enclaves, and they seemed an intractable problem. Now it is truly the war endgame.

Concerning Daraa "enclave" on Jordanian border, it is actually a significant bother for Jordan. The transportation link through Syria to Lebanon was important until the rebels cut the highway crossing, not to mention that Jihadists threaten Jordan too. Moreover, the folding of Duma, Dumair/East Qalamoun and northern Homs suggests that the zeal of taqfiri lead rebels is gone.

The quagmire that Obama predicted in his wishful thinking evokes a swamp that Trump promised to drain. But while Trumpian Mires seem to be protected by North American Wetland Conservation Act and helped by ample rainfall, the swamps of Syria seem to be drier and drier.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 19 2018 19:08 utc | 8

Unless Syria retakes the Golan Heights there will never be peace keepers there again. To put them back they would need agreement from both sides and Syria will not give that agreement as the UNDOF has been entirely one sided in favour of Israel. Witht he Israelis murdering members of that force right before the war no one is going to commit members to staff it. If Syria some how retakes the Golan then Israel may scream for protection and the NATO powers will fall over them selves in the rush to supply peace keepers then.

90% of what you said about the S-300 is true b. But the piece missing is that most Israeli attacks come from over Lebanon, the Mediterranean or Jordan. In order to stop those aircraft before they launch Syria needs more reach. Unfortunately Bibi scored big with his last trip to Moscow as Russia has assured Netanyahu that they would not allow Syria to have access to the S-300.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | May 19 2018 19:18 utc | 9

@Alaric - there are Tor M2 and a few other systems in Syria but not in significant numbers. Besides that - I didn't want to go into a technical discussion of Syrian air defenses. That would take at least a week worth of posts. The layer principal is what one needs to understand. The rests is technical details.
@JL - the email address is on the About page
@metni - my bad. I now changed it to "purple". Thanks!
@BraveNewWorld - the solution for Israeli launches from Lebanon are Pantsyr systems in Lebanon. (May well happen :-)) There is no real air-defense solution for launches from Israel unless one wants to start a big war. Deterrence, as established after the last Israeli attack, is the only available means.

Posted by: b | May 19 2018 19:56 utc | 10

I find it difficult to understand why the UN should be consulted about anything to do with the planned Syrian constitutional changes. Why can the UN demand any role when it has done nothing to protect Syria from over 100 attacks by another member of the UN? Does it only maintain authority when it suits them or when it suits Israel? President Assad should say 'fuck the UN', just as the UN has effectively said the same to the Syrian people by not demanding Israel cease it's continual acts of aggression.
It sickens me that there is only a moral obligation to Syria if the criminal state next door isn't involved. What a screwed up world we live in.

Posted by: duplicitousdemocracy | May 19 2018 20:01 utc | 11

Question is, where will the SAA (majorly the pointy end, the Tiger Forces, formerly a private army) project themselves next?

Likely Jigr-al-Shigour? Owned by HTS, aka Jabhat-al_Nusra, aka Al Qaueda.

But the Turkmen are busily putting in their own 'de-confliction' posts all along the Idlib border.

Posted by: Ant. | May 19 2018 20:06 utc | 12

@ b who wrote: "Deterrence, as established after the last Israeli attack, is the only available means."

Nice journalism again b. You set a great example that I wish others would follow.

Deterrence is the only available means within this theatre of WWIII, I agree. But I believe that this war will be won/lost on the "socio/economic" front.

On the one side we have the current God of Mammon, private finance/property, usury and ongoing inheritance "caste" system and on the other is commucapitasocioism that exist currently as the NOT God of Mammon types but that have to relate to it. There is lots of evidence that core global financial institutions don't need to be privately held and that the whole overarching debt burden that currently exists is irrational.....and since conventional war is supposedly limited to not nukes, the only other alternative to attempt to force capitulation/compliance is economic war

I am all for your scenario of the battle being taken to the Golan Heights so that issue gets worked and hopefully resolved.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 19 2018 20:21 utc | 13

On S-300, we predictably get more nauseating lies and distortions and straw man arguments from a pretzeling Putin defender.

Of course the point has NEVER been about the s-300s alone, though they matter a lot. The point all along has been that Syria does not have and has never had the solid air defense it desperately needs and has desperately needed throughout this war. For both Syria and Iran, s-300s became the shorthand way of referring to this lack of real air defense, due to Russia's being a horrible ally, of course, since they are regarded as the capstone air defense system.

Putin's first move when he came to power should have been to provide this to Syria, having seen what was done to Libya and having considerably more than the pea-sized brain it took to see that Syria was next on the Hegemon's list for 'regime change', a list aimed ultimately at Russia and China.

Please stop defending Russia for having left Syria defenseless and CONTINUING TO DO SO. Syria's lack of air defense has been the key factor in the war.

Posted by: paul | May 19 2018 20:21 utc | 14

Israelis overflying Lebanon, and launching missiles from there, is not going to stop soon, I would say. I can think of a number of reasons. One is that it is not particularly effective. Syrian progress has not been affected by the attacks. Two is that trying to prevent it is politically complicated, Hizbullah is not in government, and the others are more nuanced. Three is that Russia supplying Syria to defend itself is one thing, supplying Hizbullah in Lebanon is quite another, not official government activity.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 19 2018 20:26 utc | 15

Putin has proved himself to be a brutal monster no better than the Hegemon's vicious leaders. There was a hope at one time that he was a better man and a better leader. That hope began to fade long ago. Now each new move Putin makes is stunningly cynical. He is working for the interests of those who started the Syria war and kept it going. He is working against the ones who fought at his side. There are words for what Putin is, some of the worst words around. This is a man who follows orders from Netanyahu. This is a man who courts Trump, no matter how much crap Trump dumps on him. This is a man who seems to leave a trail of dead bodies when he feels thwarted by those on his side. This is a man who hid his true intentions behind words that many in the world needed to hear, words challenging the lawlessness of the Hegemon, words that at one time seemed to be from a united heart and mind.

Putin fooled many. It seems his pretzelers are trying to keep the mask from falling apart. They still fool some.

Posted by: paul | May 19 2018 20:32 utc | 16

What b says about a layered defense is true but the S 300 could be mostly hidden and used in an opportunistic manner, when Israel does not expect it. That would force a change in Israeli behavior.

NATO never fully suppressed Serbia’s ancient air defenses. You don’t turn on your radar all the time. You are suppose to do so sparingly and move it and hide it as well for survivability.

Posted by: Alaric | May 19 2018 20:38 utc | 17

What's the hatred against Putin, paul 16? He works in Russia's interest, quite successfully, as far as anyone can see.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 19 2018 20:44 utc | 18

Gotta love the pretend freedom fighters who constantly rail on Putin for not doing enough to protect other countries, far beyond his own, after he has preserved the legal government of Syria through Russia's successful intervention. It's like, "Sure you walked on water, but did you bring me a Coke? Wah wah wah."

Putin is not perfect. No leader is perfect. But Russia is constrained by many simultaneous forces and even if Putin wanted to be Jesus for the entire world he couldn't do so without risking his own country's security.

Posted by: WorldBLee | May 19 2018 21:07 utc | 19

Here's a logic all but the dunces who sometimes pass gas here will understand:

Russia is in Syria as a SuperPower projection in the ME, Eastern Med and eastern North Africa.
With bases in Tartus and Latakia, blood and bone sacrificed, eight Aerospace machines lost, a General, many Colonels and a few score of well-trained pilots and troops, Russia is going nowhere—for a century, two or three.

Russia is in Syria as partner, lessee of the two bases (and maybe a few other places) of the current government. If the Syrian government falls or fails, Russian interests fall into serious jeopardy.

Thus, Syria will have air defenses enough to survive Israeli, US and NATO-Arab air assaults by missile, guided bomb or ballistic missiles.

Syria is Russia by extension. Just as Belarus and Central Asian stans are Russia by extension. In military defense, those areas of the planet are Russian.

In Syria, Russia has a regional platform for controlling air, sea and land how it so chooses, from the Black Sea to the Red Sea and from the Levant to Iran, too.

Gas and Oil play a big part in their calculus, as does military weapons sales and wheat sales.

Russia came to win and stay.

Nothing has changed. Nothing will change.

S-300 is a McGuffin.

Putin, Shoigu and the General Staff have the "defense of Syria" as a page as relevant as defending Kaliningrad, Minsk, Astana or the Arctic. It might not look like Mother, but it's now one of momma bear's cubs.

Posted by: Red Ryder | May 19 2018 21:13 utc | 20

Putin has much bigger fish to fry.The way NATO is fracturing over the
Syrian mess and Isreal is isolating itself, a stalemate on the ground
actually is Russia's best approach.
He doesn't have to win, everybody else has to lose.
This a marathon not a sprint.
Pax Americana's true Achilles heel is global reserve currency status.
Everything the US tries erodes that further and quicker.
Time is on Putin's side and has nearly tolled out for Pax Americana.

Posted by: Winston | May 19 2018 21:41 utc | 21

@ 20 Red Ryder | May 19, 2018 5:13:48 PM

Historically Russia's fleets have been constrained to the Baltic, Black Seas and the Sea of Japan. The Black Sea fleet is constrained by the straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles, both controlled by Turkey. Beyond that, once the Mediterranean was under the effective control of Britain having control points at Suez and Gibraltar. Since, Syria now provides Russia's Mediterranean naval port and access to all maritime destinations without serious hinderance. You can bet your better parts that Russia will take great care of those assets and those who hold them since such circumstance had been desired since the time of the Tsars. You saw what happened when Ukraine threatened Russian Black Sea ports protected by treaty; doG help what is left of anyone stupid enough to endanger Russia's Syrian ports. YMMD

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | May 19 2018 22:14 utc | 22

This is a rather seismic take on America today with this just released and bankrolled music video with WP backup

Posted by: Bill | May 19 2018 22:24 utc | 23

re Red Ryder 20

You're as bad as the dunces (a description you mention) of the old Cold War. You're erecting Russia as the evil monster, extending its tentacles everywhere (but inevitably to be defeated by the good guys).

It's not the case. Russia doesn't want jihadism to spread into its own muslim territories. That's the base of the policy. Historical support of Syria is a supplement.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 19 2018 22:25 utc | 24

If i were Russ, with the hulking huge US armed forces against me, i think i would make damn sure i didn't use my ace cards in the hole until it was the final lay down. I still don't understand what was supposed to have happened in the black sea ...what, the russ could shut down all electronic systems on a modern US warship , and they used it in peacetime? Makes no sense to me. Why show your hand?

Posted by: Breadonwaters | May 19 2018 22:27 utc | 25

Good analysis but some uncharacteristic typos:

Empathizes needs be emphasises
Idleb needs be Idleb (several of them)
Per- planned should be pre-planned.

Otherwise great update, thanks.

Posted by: Grammatical | May 19 2018 22:42 utc | 26


Posted by: Grammatical | May 19 2018 22:43 utc | 27


You projected your own thoughts. I erected nothing of the Cold War. Russia is able now to act in ways of a Super Power. Putin's words.

I stated my thoughts. I indicated nowhere "tentacles". These are locations of profound need of Russian defense. Study the subject. It's historic in most of the regions. Syria is re-establishment of USSR's deep interests for the reasons I stated.

Russia is already deep in Africa, Sudan and Central African Republic for example.

Get some facts and you won't go off half-cocked.

Posted by: Red Ryder | May 19 2018 22:45 utc | 28

re 28

Russia is not "deep" anywhere, except perhaps Syria. That's projecting the American position, who have bases and troops everywhere. There are no Russian bases in Africa, nor troops. Some contracts, so what?

Posted by: Laguerre | May 19 2018 23:06 utc | 29

re Red Ryder. By the way, I well remember a recent video showing a headcam of a group of US special forces ambushed in Mali, I think it was. Slowly the Yanks are shot down, finishing with the death of the headcam person, as the camera falls to the ground. The Russians are not that "deep" in Africa.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 19 2018 23:24 utc | 30

Syria would certainly benefit from enhanced EW capabilities as well.

Posted by: Alaric | May 19 2018 23:42 utc | 31

... heard a voice say to him, "Paul, Paul, why do you persecute me? I am Putin, whom you are persecuting,"

Paul in his anti-Putin posts makes two mistakes.

First, if RF under Putin leadership were about to sell Syria to bidders like USA, Israel, the last few years were a very strange way to do it, as one can see from the maps illustrating this article. This progress was achieved in large part with Russian weapons, training and air support, and we know that before Russia stared to provide air support and training, the results were that SAA was barely surviving.

Second, there exists a logic of total war that may command all resources of societies, and states may have to plan for that, but in this conflict, allies of Syria are engaged in limited war, and its logic is absolutely different. Vast majority of actions can be counteracted, so there is a huge scope for fruitless escalations. Putin has to make a case for RF expending "life and treasures" to Russian people, and fruitless escalations are textbook examples to avoid.

So what can be a solution that avoids such traps? I do not want to speculate in a limited post, but solutions cannot be obvious -- hence not counteracted in time. With the results so far, Putin seems a better player than Netanyahu, Obama etc. so one should not be as hasty with condemnations as Paul.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 20 2018 0:17 utc | 32

Excellent comments here is usual. I do support the notion of Putin is sitting on the river bank and waiting for the dead body of his enemy to float by. Whether this is the best strategy or not, that is another matter. But Russia has suffered significant human losses facing this empire in decline. It is understandable that Putin feels that waiting patiently may be the best approach.

The enemy will die from the self-inflicted financial wounds. Israel & US are becoming desperate as time is not on their side: rushing to recognise Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights to steal its oil (thanks Peter AU). Only God knows what will happen to Israel once the dead body of its US overused and abused host (the nag) floats by, but it will indubitably be fully deserved.

b was a bit off in his simplified explanation on the air defences. The sophisticated S-300 is more a symbol than battle reality for a country almost seven years at war. It would take a year just to train well the local crews. Pantsyrs in Lebanon would be really nice, but it reads like a joke. For Russia to put them in the hands of Hezbollah or a Hezbollah dominated Lebanese government against Israel is not a serious suggestion. I find it fascinating that Putin took on the chin the Israeli threats to destroy S-300 potentially to be delivered to Syria. Perhaps, the idea of S-300 delivered to Syria was Putin letting his generals start a rumour, for Putin to gain some concessions from Israel later on. Nutty really rushed to Moscow to solve that one and the air attacks appear to have stopped a few days later.

Posted by: Kiza | May 20 2018 0:19 utc | 33

@30, et al

For those who know nothing or very little, some gathering of facts to relieve you of your lack.

3630 kms from Syria.
9065 kms from Russia.

April 7, 2018
The situation in the Central African Republic
In connection with the decision of the Russian government to provide military-technical assistance to the Central African Republic

April 24, 2018 (Rusvesna. su)

CIT group published an interesting analysis about the Russian presence in the Central African Republic. It is curious that almost the first time liberal analysts have selected a theme that does not exposes Moscow's actions, but simply explains the unknown details of an officially recognized operation of the army and private military professionals.

April 25, 2018

Russian influence in the Central African Republic

Russia is gradually establishing its presence in the Central African Republic after the conclusion of a military agreement between Moscow and Bangui in December 2017, writes the special correspondent of Le Monde in Bangui Remy Ourdan.

(I understand the frustration b suffers at times. The Internet is festooned with "expertise sans knowledge".)

Have a great weekend.

Posted by: Red Ryder | May 20 2018 0:20 utc | 34


This is an excellent report, thank you for the strategy perspective. Excellent journalism, as always.


@8 Piotr Berman

I'm always struck by great writing, and your last paragraph is splendid. You should get an award simply for "protected by North American Wetland Conservation Act".

But for "Trumpian Mires", no praise is worthy enough. In North Korea's Foreign Ministry, in the super-secret and elite Department of Elizabethan English, they just wrote that one down. The specialists are kicking themselves for not having thought of it first :)

Posted by: Grieved | May 20 2018 0:31 utc | 35

@ Piotr Berman | 32

First, if RF under Putin leadership were about to sell Syria to bidders like USA, Israel, the last few years were a very strange way to do it, as one can see from the maps illustrating this article.

You are partly right, what Russia wanted to do is prevent the fall of Syria's government, but didnt care much about it recovering the whole territory (hence blasting and threatening Assad (publicly!) to pull their support for his comments about recovering every inch of Syria). Remember Russia's plans few years back, to freeze the conflict and leave large parts of Syria in terrorists hands "till someday a political settlement comes"? As far as Russia is concerned, frozen conflict like in Donbass suits them fine (neither allowing Donbass to lose, nor to win (not even to expand safety zone to avoid daily bombardments!).

The reason why Russia havent succeeded to "freeze" Syria's war was because US were absolutely against any settlement, which would involve mutual concessions. US wanted to have all the pie, with nothing for Russia. Therefore Russia (reluctantly) had to expand the operations, and help Syria and Iran more, who were pushing strongly to recover all of Syria. Still, Russia made some deals, like East of Euphrates is off limits to Syria (for now), in South Syria/Iran were pushing to the borders also against Russia's demands (as per Magnier's latest).

Bottom line, Russia is looking for Russia's interests, which sometimes aligns the Resistance, sometimes it doesnt, at all (and get criticized by Syria, Iran and Hezb).

This progress was achieved in large part with Russian weapons, training and air support, and we know that before Russia stared to provide air support and training, the results were that SAA was barely surviving.

Iran is more important (and closer) ally to Syria than Russia is, and Iran was also responsible convincing Russia to join in 2015, before that Russia was happy with just political/economical support, military equipment sales, that was it. The breakthrough happened when Iran provided troops and Russia - airforce.

Posted by: Harry | May 20 2018 1:05 utc | 36

Yes, this was another of b's absolutely excellent reports, with a need for some minor fine-tuning. Also very useful link to Magnier's spot-on article on the Russian role and interests in Syria. But b, if you have not noticed, Russia has delivered the number of Pantsyrs sufficient only for Syria, so that none could "leak" to Lebanon, as Kornets and Yakonts have before. Your and Saker's suggestions that Syria needs more Pantsyrs is just not going to happen, except for a few replacements for the destroyed ones. The Russians are drawing a very fine line.

Probably the biggest irony of the Syria situation is that Russia is fighting the Israeli supported terrorists and extremists, who would have probably turned on Israel once Syria became a failed state. Thus, Russia is saving Israel from itself. This is because the Zionists/Jews are prepared to sign a deal with any devil to achieve their goal of control, be it the Nazis in Ukraine or the Muslim extremists in Syria. Putin is more reasonable Prime Minister of Israel than Nutty is.

Posted by: Kiza | May 20 2018 1:07 utc | 37


I just finished reading the Elijah J. Magnier article you linked to. It's a superb description of the many marriages of interests, with their many nuances.

It's poignant to read these things we knew and may have forgotten. It's flawlessly written and translated, and it's thoroughly useful, an histoire of many important things that have happened in Syria and its war theater.

Thanks for the link. I echo your recommendation: Russia is in the Middle East to halt the war, not take part in the Iran-Israel Conflict.

Posted by: Grieved | May 20 2018 1:21 utc | 38

@Harry | May 19, 2018 9:05:42 PM | 36

Excellent comments. I'm more or less in tune with your opinions. I distance myself from Putin's apologists. I'm also in agreement with paul but NOT 100%

I'll try to draft my opinions, will take time since Eng not my mother tongue

Posted by: OJS | May 20 2018 1:40 utc | 39


If you were following events at the time there were very serious antecedents to the Donald Cook event (whatever the actual details) that made a 'reveal' both dramatic and necessary. Some of the known ones that immediately come to mind are:

1) The state of the war in Ukraine and former US plans to establish a NATO base in Crimea.
2) Provocation/Violation of the Montreux Convention
3) Turkish cooperation with Ukraine allegedly to protect Crimean Tartars
4) Ukrainian/Neo-nazi preparations for another round of war in Donbass
5) Escalating US threats to bomb Syria over false-flag violations of 'red lines'
6) The 'reveal' that all of Britain’s' ICBMs were fuelled and targeting info had been loaded (no info was given on US systems but all their Ageis systems were deployed as in ABM format)
7) The sudden deployment of all of Russia’s nuclear attack subs under the Arctic ice and the disappearance of Putin & top military staff for 10 days

Do not forget that this is when top US leadership regarded Russian forces as rusted incompetent leftovers from the cold war. There was a visceral desire to put Russia 'in its' place' for daring to obstruct US/Neo-con plans. The US had just deployed mini-nukes as tactical weapons designating them as 'not a threat to civilian populations'.

Who is to say that what took place did not stop a war?

Since then:
1) Ukraine has stabilised with OSCE observers
2) Romania & Ukraine have backed off seeking Nato naval bases that would undo the Montreux Convention
3) Turkey works to build cooperation with Russia and applauds treatment of Crimean Tartars
4) Neo-nazi forces in Ukraine have been hamstrung
5) Assad/Putin have rebuilt the SAA which in turn has re-united most of the country
6) Britain has been reduced to Skripal-like threats
7) The US has poured huge investment into electronic warfare while consistently avoiding a provocation with Russia in which US vulnerability to EW will been seen (the most recent missile attack on Syria is a prime example)

I'd say Putin has played his hand pretty well... so far.

Posted by: les7 | May 20 2018 1:57 utc | 40

Lest we forget, Kalibr missile launching vessels will be on permanent standby off the Syrian coast to reassure paul and his ilk of how much Russia has left Syria defenseless..

Posted by: Lozion | May 20 2018 2:33 utc | 41

""...5) Assad/Putin have rebuilt the SAA which in turn has re-united MOST of the country ...

My additional opinions. There are some truths in paul's postings... If Putin had given, sell S300 or S400 to Syria and allow Dr. Assad free hands in 30 September 2015. The SIT may vastly different today. It may start WW3? About 1/3 Syria territories still either under Daesh, the Kurd or indirectly proxy invaders - Turkey, USA, Israel and France. One needs to ask how many US bases in Syria and how Syrians reconquer the occupied territories even with Hezbollah and Irian help to expel proxies invaders. NO - NEVER ever. Another North and South Vietnam and Korea in the making or another Cuba and more...

You cannot and should NEVER trust the US and that includes - UK France Germany Aussie, NZ, Canada and all EU except Hungary...

Syria will be partitioned, USA a permanent foothold in Syria - N East and Israel in Golan height, Turkey in North. Worst to come Putin now The Decider, a new Constitution for the Syrian's Nation in the UN. Everyone. I presume everyone will has a say in the Constitution. (Remember Bush said “I'm the decider”). Who the fuck give Putin to decides and drafts Syrian constitution!

Before 2015 and after Russia, Iran and Hezbollah were invited to help Syrian. SAA advances in Dier Er Zor stopped abruptly before crossing the Euphrates river. The Kurdish with US and local tribesmen advancing and capturing oil and gas fields. Putin remains stone dead makes no move against the Kurdish. RT Live all along promoting Kurdish fighter against Dash. I was flabbergasted why promote the Kurd, enemy of the Syrian’s nation?

While the battles going on - Bibi, Erdogan, includes Dr. Assad visited Putin and vise versa in Russia. Putin changed. My opinions from 100% support to almost turn me off more like 40%. He is changing like Obomo, Trump, Hillary and Bibi..

I'll bet with anyone, Syria and Dr. Assad is finished most probably ended like Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein and more...

Posted by: OJS | May 20 2018 3:27 utc | 42

The S300 controversy is just a canard.
The Russians merely stated that they could revisit the decision to supply this system in the light of continuing Israeli attacks on Syria.
Syria clearly does have the wherewithal to defend itself as demonstrated by it's defeat of the most recent attack.
(And didn't Lieberman claim to have destroyed the Syrian ADS a few weels ago? He was clearly mistaken.
Incidentally, I read somewhere that the lost Pantsir was actually sacrificed as part of an ELINT trap. Any info on that?)

With it's extended range, S300 actually becomes a potentially offensive weapon that would severely disrupt the balance of power in the region.
The point that seems to be missed is that the Syrians retaliated to the israeli strikes with artillery attacks on Israeli positions in the Golan. Unfortunately not much info on the results of these.

This must have been a huge slap for the Israelis: The failure of what amounted to their all out air attack on syria followed by an effective syrian response.

Providing S300 aould tip the scales too far out of favour for israel and provoke god knows what kind of response.

Posted by: adamski | May 20 2018 4:15 utc | 43


To say that Putin has played his hand pretty well (buying time for a re-build of the Russian military and the emergence of multi-polarity) is NOT to say that he has done what is best for Syria.

Syria (and to a lesser extent the Donbass) has been allowed to pay the price of Russian patience.

We do not know yet if as the US empire collapses the world manages to avoid great power conflict and the hundreds of millions of lives that would be destroyed. We do not know yet if a multi-polar world will emerge as Putin and Xi hope.

Should great power conflict be avoided, will it be possible to accurately determine why?

In the calculus of geo-politics, can the suffering of Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela, etc ever compensate for the hoped for avoidance of great power conflict? while a reality that haunts every leader, it is a cold and heartless one for the families of those who mourn.

Posted by: les7 | May 20 2018 4:19 utc | 44

@43 adamski

Yes. This has not been explored fully enough yet. The S-300 is overkill for the situation. The very mention of it was only made by Russia as a response to provocation, and it scared the shit out of Israel and the Pentagon. But it was only a mention.

Russia said "BOO!" and the west flinched. Russia indulged itself in that rare luxury of playing the game of appearances. Then Russia got on with normal life and everyone said, "what happened to the Boo?"

People have serious attention deficits. And frankly, the way this disease of lost perspective is so widespread among so many commentators is interesting. I don't know how so many people can be so fickle with a country they admire. How can people so easily betray their own loyalties? Where is their moral compass? Where is their common sense? If this is the loyalty of the west, who would want it?

Posted by: Grieved | May 20 2018 4:37 utc | 45

@44 les7

Read the Magnier article that b specifically recommended for an understanding of this situation. Russia didn't enter into Syria to do what was best for Syria. Russia entered Syria in order to prevent what was worst for Syria from happening.

Russia charged into a burning building to save the children, and you want it to go back and save the music collection and the family heirlooms?

You can get a valuable perspective on this from Magnier's article.

Posted by: Grieved | May 20 2018 4:41 utc | 46

@ Grieved who wrote: "Then Russia got on with normal life and everyone said, "what happened to the Boo?""

Nicely characterized.

That tendency/itch/sickness in the West reflects the needs for instant gratification/resolution/solution to cultural conflict as well as being a carry on from the yet to die "Might-Makes-Right meme.

You write of loyalty displayed (or not) by the West. Lets make sure we are not talking about the public of the West but the elite that pull the levers of power in ways that now show duplicity by American empire. It is a sad testament to brainwashing by the media that my fellow Americans are blinded to the ways they and their country are being used by the elite in this instantiation of empire.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 20 2018 5:07 utc | 47

@ Grieved

One of my favorite concepts that I acquired early in my lifetime is that the future is here but not evenly distributed. That is becoming more apparent now as we see China developing win-win relationships through the Belt/Road you have written, it is geo-political genius that the West has no answer to but more and more war and debt/finance bullying.

Being a product of the West I am inculcated to keep looking and asking myself for that tipping point and then smile and see that they are happening all around us......But I too, at times, wish for more speedy progress toward lessening pain and suffering in our world.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 20 2018 5:29 utc | 48


Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced on Thursday a resolution that could lead to an historic recognition by the UN that the United States fully belongs to Israel, according to a copy of the amendment obtained by the Washington Free Beacon."

Why not? It's all pure charade and stress-positioning of the electorate for the next -$1.3T Omnibus tranche. The Pentagon was breached in 2012 of all employees PII, then in 2013, all rhe Pentagons contractors information was hacked. The Pentagon has no stop-loss, no audits, their APs are a bleeding -$100B gash they are unable to find.

A New American Century of Structural Adjustments for Jesus.

Posted by: Chipnik | May 20 2018 5:44 utc | 49

So here is a related link from ZH where the title is misleading

Did Putin Just Ask For Iran's Exit From Syria In Meeting With Assad?

The basis for the misrepresentation as quoted from the link
The official readout of the meeting quotes President Putin as saying, “We affirm that with the achievement of the big victories and the remarkable successes by the Syrian Arab army in the fight against terrorism and with the activation of the political process, it is necessary for all foreign forces to withdraw from the Syrian Arab Republic territories.”

Someone like me could read that and say quite clearly that it is a direct command for the US to get out of Syria.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 20 2018 5:49 utc | 50


Just last week came across youtube video below. Passed to a fren why I dun believe in god or any gods and refused to go to fucking heaven even if that fucking god exist!

This Is Why Evangelical Christians Love Israel (VICE on HBO, Full Segment)

Posted by: OJS | May 20 2018 5:52 utc | 51

I think Paul's been banned, like I was five years ago, for debunking putinolatry.

Posted by: Rowan | May 20 2018 5:56 utc | 52

@ adamski 43
it goes also for many other cooler heads here.

You are perfectly correct: S-300, considering their extended range could be turned in offensive weapons reaching Israel airfields and not only , but also navy assets,as S-300 can in fact aim and hit targets on the ground.

Elijah Magnier is a must read and must follow (in Italian, French English)
In French you have the very good Chronique du Grand Jeu. Its last publication shows very similar maps than b.

And thanks b for being there, quite a fantastic job you are doing.

Posted by: Charles Michael | May 20 2018 6:00 utc | 53

@46 Grieved

I have read many of Magniers' articles and the article you refer to continues his excellent analysis.

However I think that when he states " It was only when Turkey shot down a Russian jet at the end of 2015 that Russia understood how far the US was ready to go to face down Russia and bring its reputation to the ground." Magnier missed a crucial set of points, as does your summary that "Russia entered Syria in order to prevent what was worst for Syria from happening."

Putin himself has described how in 2014 he was utterly betrayed by the US when he was phoned and asked to use Russia’s influence to get Yanikovich to not use the army to quell the maidan riots. This he did only to have the US backed coup take place while the European powers that were guarantors of a peaceful transition to early elections watched and refused to intervene.

Putin has talked about his knowledge of US support for Chechen rebels (2008), something confirmed to him by 'Bandar Bush' who offered to guarantee a peaceful winter Olympics if only Putin abandon Syria.

I mention these points to simply state that Putin became convinced of Western treachery long before Magnier's 2015 date.

Russia is only in Syria for Russian interests. Putin has stated this repeatedly. While this has helped Syria avoid the worst fate possible (Bolton's Libya scenario), it was not a magnanimous act. Russia acted in Syria to prevent the same scenario being played out in its' own Muslim populations. I do not think I have said anything to indicate I attribute some saintly disposition to Putin or Russia's actions. Putin has played a very limited hand exceptionally well. Syria has paid the price. As someone who lived there, who mourns the devastation of the country and grieves the loss of life I wish he would have done more, much more. But I also understand why he did not - as cold a calculus as it may be.

Posted by: les7 | May 20 2018 6:07 utc | 54

PB @ 32 said:"With the results so far, Putin seems a better player than Netanyahu, Obama etc. so one should not be as hasty with condemnations as Paul."

As always, everyone is entitled to there opinions, even anti-Putin folks, but, PB's comment rings true, given results in Syria, and on the home front in the RF..

Posted by: ben | May 20 2018 6:09 utc | 55

psychohistorian 50

Russia, Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah are in Syria with the authority/approval of the Syrian Government. I take it that foreign forces, as called by Russia, Syria and those on Syria's side, are those that have forced their way into Syria without invitation or approval of the Syrian government.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | May 20 2018 6:11 utc | 56

@ Peter AU 1 with a follow up to my comment about foreign forces leaving Syria

You are correct, of course. But that means nothing to the deluded West.......except as a premise for upsetting the apple cart, so to speak.

What is the next false flag going to be? Had to be quiet during the wedding.......

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 20 2018 6:29 utc | 57

Hard to predict what will happen next psychohistorian. Like predicting gusts in a storm.
I run onto a piece on US congress recognizing occupied Golan as sovereign Israel that I linked above. Under the Trump admin, this will most likely come about, bringing occupied Golan under the US umbrella.
Trump seems anti globalist, wants detente with Russia perhaps preferring to trade with Russia, but steeped in US 'we are the best' culture, and strongly-rabidly? zionist.
None of the zionism shows in early video or his books. Perhaps acquired along with his son inlaw?

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | May 20 2018 6:47 utc | 58

I find myself quite amazed at how certain people, even very intelligent analysts such as Saker, are prone to disappointment in Putin. While it's comforting to try find white hats in a brutal, sinister, corrupt world, he/she isn't there brother. Putin is elected to take care of Russia, not save the world, much to the dismay of many well intentioned people. Dirty shades of grey is all you get in this world, and you will be constantly disappointed waiting for "Saint Vladimir" to appear.

One more point that struck me today in my daily readings. People are disappointed that Russia isn't doing more to counter the forces of darkness. Well you can imagine how Russia felt in the 1990s when it was being savaged by those same forces and absolutely NO ONE came to their aid in a time of desperate need. I find it amazing that Russia cares as much as it does about the non-Russian world given its recent history.

Posted by: Sad Canuck | May 20 2018 8:20 utc | 59

A worthwhile read here of a speech by Nasrallah on the Syrian strikes on the Golan the other week

Reckons it was a tectonic shift on Syrian/Israeli relations. Like him or not, never known him to spout BS.

Here's a quote:

Second, this missile response occurred despite Israeli threats and intimidation. If you remember, during two or three weeks (before the attack), the Israelis said they expected a response, but that if it came up, they would destroy, bomb, kill, put everything upside down, etc. Well, the response took place, and they expected it, and they knew that the nature of (their opponents) would lead to a response of this magnitude, but they haven't turned anything upside down, and they haven't dared to touch some red lines in Syria. Because — and I am going to reveal a secret — the enemy government was warned by international intermediaries that if the Israeli response in Syria exceeded the red lines, the second bombing would target the heart of occupied Palestine (Tel Aviv), not the Golan. This is one reason why they panicked during that night, contacted UNDOF, and said that if Syria's operation was over, they too (would stop there). Despite all the (Israeli) intimidation and threats, (Syria) has made this decision and launched this response. And that means that we're done with threats, intimidation, terror, and so forth, it's all over.

Posted by: el sid | May 20 2018 8:39 utc | 60

Posted by: Sad Canuck | May 20, 2018 4:20:01 AM | 59

Power is to be in a position of mediator not partisan. Russia has achieved that in the Middle East.

And - on what is at the back of this - the robbery of other peoples resources - Russia seems to have developed a weapons system that can do that.

And - before them - Iraqis supplied the people sacrifice and power to do that.

China, in the meantime seems to have got a lock on Afghanistan's rare earth.

Posted by: somebody | May 20 2018 9:02 utc | 61


Did any of you know, that since 6/22/2016, IT IS NOW **LAW** in the United States TO:THAT ISRAEL MAINTAIN A MILITARY EDGE -- TO PROTECT MILITARILY ISRAEL?!!!!

Below follows verbatim what the Senate Resolution 508 says:

(6) On June 22 2016, SENATE RESOLUTION 508 (114TH CONGRESS) was introduced in the United States Senate, expressing support for the expeditious consideration and finalization of a new, robust and long-term Memorandum of Understanding on military assistance to Israel between the United States Government and the Government of Israel

(7) Senate Resolution 508 provides that the Senate –
(A) “Reaffirms that Israel is a major strategic partner of the United States”;
(B) “reaffirms that it is the policy and ****Law**** of the United States to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge and has the capacity and capability to defend form all credible military threats”
(C) “Reaffirms United States support of a robust Israeli tiered missile defense program”
(D) “supports continued discussions between the Governments of the United States and the Government of Israel” for a robust and long-term Memorandum of Understanding on United States military assistance to Israel”

Posted by: susetta | May 20 2018 10:36 utc | 62

That seems a very one sided agreement,putting it mildly. Surely Israel must have given some undertakings as part of a balanced deal! If not then it is a licence to kill! With know reprocutions. Which is exactly what we are seeing.

Posted by: Mark2 | May 20 2018 11:35 utc | 63

b, this is a great article, a must read by all involved with the war of aggression against the Syrians. Will post at Syrper asap. I would add that Syria has S125 (old USSR AA) as well and has modernized the S200 in the past 5 years with the help of Russians Engineers. The current S200 from Syria is supposed to reacha target 250 kms away, this has to be confirmed in action though. Another issue for SyAAD is that it lost many prime positions to install AA in the past 7 years, the country has many holes in AA defenses and this is being fixed slowly once ground is recovered. Syria had Pantsir S1 for a decade or so, and there clear evidences it has received additional Pantsir S1 and some Panstir S2 in the past month, this is where the nbr 40 came about, so it is fair to say that SyAAD may have actually anywhere between 60 to 80 Pantsir systems at the moment.
There was a discussion not long ago about the nbr of missiles in storage to support the S200, Syria produces a lot of missiles and there is no doubt S200 is currently produced in Syria, meaning the supposed defenders that Israel was spending the SyAAD inventory of missiles is either fake news or a wishful thought by some Israeli supporters, won't happen.
I key and would say major upgrade in SyAAD was when it was completely linked up to the RuAF air defenses in Lattakia/Tartous/Hama, this step was way more importantly then shipping S300 to Syria, this is a fact and we have seen the results in the coalition of evil idiots attack and most recently the Israeli regime, the level of interception is simply beyond any possible scenario the western/israeli regimes could think possible, all indications point to anywhere between 50-70% interception, huge.
As the war of aggression against the Syrians moves to the next phase, and that is to have a gradual removal of occupying forces, a key aspect for enforcing that to happen will be the control of all Syrian airspace, and that will not be able to be done without the Russians air defenses in Lattakia/Tartous or SyAAD moved to places such as Deir ez Zour, Hasaka and Qamishili airbases. It has to be done first so the air space is locked down and any airforce invading the Syrian airspace would be painted and support to its ground forces would be poor or non existent, thus forcing their ground forces to retreat from Syria.

Posted by: Canthama | May 20 2018 11:59 utc | 64

For those who still believe Russia is a friend to Iran, Syria and help them...

Report: Russia, EU, China in the beginning to destroy the Iran deal for a new one that will include iranian military/missile work.

Posted by: Zanon | May 20 2018 13:58 utc | 65

As always thanks b. @59SadCanuck et all delving into Putin's mindset. A fellow Canuck Patrick Armstrong as always has a valuable insight here in his newest site rep.


Posted by: Tannenhouser | May 20 2018 15:08 utc | 66

Putin is evidently an admirer of Fabius Cunctator.

Posted by: Shakesvshav | May 20 2018 16:17 utc | 67

On the topic of the S-300 being delivered to Syria: Ain't gonna happen. Get over it. The only way this would EVER occur would be if the Israelis attacked Russian installations in Syria. And even then, why would the Russians give their systems to Syria (along with operators trained to use them) instead of just using them themselves? The reason why the Russians will never give the S-300 to Syria (besides the technical reasons b mentions, having more suitable alternatives etc) is that the system would cover Israel proper. This risks the doomsday scenario in the middle east being far too nigh. Even if the Syrians used it in legitimate defense, how long would the US watch Israeli planes dropping from the sky before green-lighting/ spearheading an all- out blitz on Russian targets? This simply is a risk the Russians are not going to take, all bellyaching aside.
On the topic of Pantsir being delivered to Lebanon: ditto. Lebanon exists in an intractable political stalemate, i.e. the best of the worst options for that tiny nation. Putting anti-air systems on the Lebanon mountain range (where they would have to be to be effective, btw who 'owns' those mountains??) would upset the cart more than anyone would want. I severely doubt the Hizb would even take them on a silver platter, they are more than anything calculating and prudent.
So what should Russia do? Risk WWIII or let the Israelis pick the most ineffectual fruit they can reach? To ask is to answer.
@ paul 14, 16 and all the other Chicken Littles: I don't know what you've been smoking, but pack another bowl for me. In 2015 the Syrian government was a cunt-hair away from becoming Libya or Iraq. Now look at a freaking map: it's this a better or worse situation? Russia single-handedly saved the country from total destruction and you guys are crying because of a lack of total victory? I get the feeling you'd be lucky to win a game of Candy Land while everyone else is playing chess.

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | May 20 2018 17:51 utc | 68

@68 "Even if the Syrians used it in legitimate defense, how long would the US watch Israeli planes dropping from the sky before green-lighting/ spearheading an all- out blitz on Russian targets?"

Exactly. Which makes me wonder if some commenters really care about the defence of Syria and aren't more interested in provoking a US/Russia confrontation.

Posted by: dh | May 20 2018 18:11 utc | 69

reply to:
I still don't understand what was supposed to have happened in the black sea ...what, the russ could shut down all electronic systems on a modern US warship , and they used it in peacetime? Makes no sense to me. Why show your hand?
Posted by: Breadonwaters | May 19, 2018 6:27:49 PM | 25
I thought it was well played, remember the US had its heart set on taking over Crimea and Russia's navel base,it even had put out RFBs on redesigning Russian facilities to become US barracks and schools. The US had a LOT invested in that adventure, showing an EW capability that the US was unaware of sent the Russian message, "Think about it, what else do we have you know nothing about?" I think it was well timed, measured (they only sent one jet) and effective. I just wish they could have taken Sevastopol when they took Crimea.

Posted by: frances | May 20 2018 19:28 utc | 70

Who defeated ISIS in Syria?

Your first two maps are a good illustration that debunk the meme that the SAA, Russians, and allies ignored ISIS and only fought moderate, good guy, rebels. If anything it shows that the SDF Kurds only traveled a short distance to defeat 3,000 ISIS fighters in Raqqa and even then let about 500 be evacuated. Someone should show these maps to Gen. Jack Keane and all of the experts on FOX.

So how is the U.S. going to explain why ISIS is gaining in strength in Afghanistan where we really are calling the shots? We have the same army, same rules of engagement, and we dropped MOAB.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | May 21 2018 10:19 utc | 71

How can anybody in his senses be so blind, or worse, not to see that Russia, and Iran, and Syria especially, Hezbollah, are in this war because it has been forced on them?

And the main, gigantic difference so, how can anybody belittle it, is Russia and the others of the resistance front, they want and work for peace.

So, how idiotic is to seek for more war, more confrontation, in the face of the most powerful block on earth that is doing nothing but start and feed war, and is still looking to enlarge and worsen all wars?

Do those who blame Russia for not spreading more conflict really be so blind not to understand that any increment in both weapons and attacks will cost some unpredictable, dangerous waste of resources and only make things worse, immensely harder to manage, and only serve the interests of those who are preaching for more conflict, more deaths, more suffering inflicted on innocent people, precisely the people who these ‘concern trolls’ as the Saker calls them, pretend to care about?

What part of ‘Russia wants peace, Russia work for peace’ do those warmongers, fake humanitarians don’t get?

Lastly, as Nasrallah hinted, I am not so sure the suggestion made by some Russian officer of providing better SAM defence for Syria was just to weaken the Zionist government position in the talks; looking at the moment it has been aired, could very well be a strong stop to the Israeli: with that attack, Israel had raised the level of aggression from a somewhat sporadic hit to what seems to me the attempt, the start of a strategic backing of the terrorists fighting in the south of Syria; and so Russia had to remind Israel of how kindly has been treated until now…
And yes, in the face of such an escalation by the Zionists, the artillery response by Syria was even too measured; a warning to stop right there, not try it again.

And how funny, people blames ‘Putin’ for not declaring the world war over Syria, but never point at Iran, that actually produces its version of S300?
Don’t they see that the real reason for restraint is truly, they want peace, and peace alone?
- but never at the cost of their freedom...

Posted by: rr | May 21 2018 14:13 utc | 72

CGTN (China Global Tv News) May 23 reported a declaration by the Syrian Govt that all of Damascus is now free of 'rebels' and is firmly under Govt control.

A bit Off Topic but relevant to the Christian Colonial Axis Of Evil...
CGTN also produced a report about the on the ground realities of Kim's invitation to the World Media to visit the underground N-test facility which is being decommissioned.
The report was filed from the carpark from which the convoy of buses will begin their multi-stage journey to the site.
Stage 1 is a bus ride of several hours to a rail station.
Stage 2 is a circa 10 hour rail trip to another bus terminal in the foothills of the test site.
Stage 3 is a several hour bus trip to a place as close to the test site as conventional road transport can get.
Stage 4 is a mountain hike of several (unspecified) hours on foot to the site itself.

With typical NK irony there were three clean, thoroughly modern and respectable tour buses in the fleet; one for the South Korean media, one for the USUK (Christian Colonial) media, and one for the Chinese and Russian media.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 24 2018 6:12 utc | 73

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