Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 01, 2018

Syria Sitrep - The Southwest Is Liberated - On To Idlib

The Syrian Arab Army campaign in southwest Syria is coming to an end. The whole (green/black) area held by "rebels" and ISIS just six weeks ago is now liberated. After early resistance was overcome by a large force, many "rebel" groups gave up their fight and agreed to hand over their heavy weapons to the government forces. Those who accepted reconciliation agreements were granted amnesty, a few preferred to be evacuated to Idleb governorate.

The quarter million displaced persons the UN claimed to be in the area have not been found.

Daraa governorate, June 18 2018 - bigger

After the eastern half was cleaned and "rebels" in Daraa city defeated the fight continued in the Quneitra area along the ceasefire to the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. Here the early resistance was again strong but soon broke down. The "rebels" were offered a new alternative. They could attach their units to the Syrian army. More than 400 are now serving with the 4th Armored Division led by Maher Assad, the brother of Syria's president. Others were formed into the separate 'Ahmed' brigade. Many of these former "rebels" helped to overcome the resistance of the last ISIS fighters at the southwestern border with Jordan. A few of the ISIS nutters survived and were taken to prison (vid).

This model of converting "moderate rebels" into government soldiers to fight al-Qaeda, ISIS and other radical Islamist will be an important element in the upcoming operation to liberated Idleb.

During the last phase of the attack on ISIS holdouts in Quneitra some 150 other ISIS fighters, who had earlier dispersed in the southeastern desert, launched a surprise attack on Suweida city which is home of many Druze people. Lax guarding and likely some inside help enabled the night assault. The ISIS fighters went from house to house and slaughtered more than 250 civilians before escaping. A similar number of people were wounded.

Forces that were part of the southwestern Daraa operation have now been dispatched to comb through the semi-desert where these ISIS fighters are hiding. A similar situation exists in Iraq's Anbar desert. The size of the areas and the hilly geography make it difficult to find a dispersed enemy. It will require continuous long range desert patrols and several large sweeping operations to hunt these animals down.

Some of the military forces which took part in the southwestern battle had already moved north. Others will now follow. Idleb province is largely under control of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, the former Jabhat al Nusra and part of al-Qaeda. The total opposition force in Idleb governorate is estimated at 80-120,000 of which some 15,000 are foreigners including large contingents of Uighurs, Turkmen and Chechnians. Many of the "rebel" leaders in Idleb are Saudis and Egyptians. In total there are less than 2 million people in the (green) rebel held area. The Syrian government has opened several corridors to enable civilians to flee towards its side.

Idleb governorate, August 1 2018 - bigger

The large government campaign to liberate Idleb governorate will only start in September. Preliminary 'shaping' operations by artillery and air will prepare the battlefield.

The western "rebel" area in Latakia near the Turkish border will have to be recovered before proceeding towards Jisr al-Shughur where many foreign fighters reside. The first large phase will recover the areas south of the (Latakia) - Jisr al-Shughur - Saraqib - Aleppo road. There will likely be several axes of operations from the east, south and west. This for now would avoid a fight for the city of Idleb. The resistance by local Syrian "rebels" will likely be weak. They are demoralized and only think of how to escape from another fight. The Idleb campaign will likely take no longer than three to four month. 

Turkey is responsible for the 'de-escalation area' of Idleb governorate. It was supposed to separate the "moderate rebels" from al-Qaeda and other radical fighters but did not succeed. Turkish forces holds some 12 outposts along the current demarcation line between the government and the rebels. It is not expected that these isolated, platoon sized units will take part in any fight.

Turkey's President Erdogan had hoped to keep parts of Syria for Turkey. That is unlikely to happen. Turkey is in deep trouble. Today the Trump administration sanctioned the Turkish Ministers for Justice and Interior for keeping U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson under Turkish house arrest. Congress threatens to sanction Turkey should it buy the Russian S-400 air-defense system. The Turkish Lira just broke through the 5 lira per US$ mark and continuous to fall. Many Turkish companies and banks took loans in U.S. dollars and Euros and will have problems to pay these back. The U.S. military supports the anti-Turkish PKK/YPG militias in northeast Syria. Turkey has nowhere to go. NATO will not come to its help. It can not start a war against Syrian forces which have the support of Russia without strong U.S. backing.

Over the last two days another round of the Astana talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran was held in Sochi, Russia. The final statement again empathizes Syria's territorial integrity and sovereignty. With the Syrian army coming north Turkey can no longer justify to hold onto Syrian land.

After the recent Sochi talks Alexander Lavrentiev, President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Syria, spoke (Ru, machine translation) with TASS news agency about the Idleb campaign. He hopes that a big fight over Idleb can be avoided. The plan is to incentivize "moderate rebels" to join the Syrian army in the fight against the Islamists as recently seen in Daraa. The Russian reconciliation officers are ready to make such offers.

Last week the Syrian government held talks with the Kurdish YPG/PKK organization that acts as U.S. proxy in northeast Syria. The Kurds want strong autonomy or even a federate state with its own income sources but are unlikely to get that much. The U.S. will not start a fight with the Syrian government when it recovers its northeastern land. The other Syrian people will not forget that the Kurds enabled the U.S. occupation of parts of their land and let Afrin go to the Turks instead of handing it to the Syrian government. The YPG/PKK Kurds are useful for Syria to  threaten Turkey but that's about it.

Russia initiated talks with the German and French governments about the return of refugees to Syria and financial help for Syria's recovery from the war. As a first tranche of its atonement fee France sent a planeload of medical supplies to Damascus. More such gestures will follow.

Posted by b on August 1, 2018 at 19:20 UTC | Permalink


Regarding these "Moderats" now changing sides and fighting alongside the Syrian Army, how can they be trusted? From the viewpoint of a Syrian Army soldier, I'd be afraid that some of these Orcs might turn their weapons against me, or blow up a lot of Syrian soldiers in a suicide bomb attack.

How do the Syrians insure that this does not happen"

Antoinetta III

Posted by: Antoinetta III | Aug 1 2018 19:35 utc | 1

Thanks b for this comprehensive situation report.
I have been closely following and Yes there is hope.

An other good news, it is good first because the System rage and try to deny it,is the elections in Pakistan. Imran Khan want peace in Afghanistan and cooperation with Iran.

About Germany and France trying to amend their way on Syria. Thank and nice to hear than Germany is on board.
Some I suppose have heard of the macron's bodyguard Benalla uproar, with macron for the first time facing criticism from the French Media. There is some suspicious coincidence,considering that the video was widely seen since 2 months and LeMonde made in public just after macron 3 meetings with Putin and this joint shipment to Syria.

Posted by: Charles Michael | Aug 1 2018 19:47 utc | 2

Thank you 'b' so much detail and scope in this post ! Everything we need to know on this region. I have read else where today -- that the Russians are becoming increasingly envolved in Syrias oil fields and production this seemed very positive the same blog suggested that USA would soon be withdrawing from Syria ! Good news if true.
The blog seemed very well informed, but as always one never knows ! If there's an interest i'l find it!

Posted by: Mark2 | Aug 1 2018 19:49 utc | 3

What for ?
Why Did USA & CIA start this "Regime Change" Conflagration in 1st place, a million Dead Syrians, two third of Syrian Population became refugees! What For? Herr Amerika!
Why USA can't get it's Friggin' Ass out of ME?
You Don't Belong there!
You are Only 248 plus Years Old !
"On the Wing of Gabriel" the Anointed "Messiah" Jesus Returns to Eastern Minaret of "Ummiayah Mosque" in "دمشق" Damascus.
No before, everyone Starts Attacking me, I Not A Muslim ! I am 2nd Worst, German.
But as a Physicist, and a student of the 3 Monotheist Religions, without going into merits or demerits of each. Open your eyes ! Be Human, Read Torah, King Jame's or Quran, God, Yewah, our Lord's Saying "Surely You are at a loss ! Ezekiel 3:18, "When I say to a wicked person, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood."
Quran, Surah Al-Asr (103) “By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” Talmud Torah, Chapter 5, " [Leviticus 19:32] states: "Stand up before a white-haired [man] and respect an elder." [The word] zakein, [translated as "elder," alludes to the Hebrew words meaning] "one who has acquired wisdom."
Peace Guys. Live your life for Peace and Understand, Don't reject others, because you worst enemy is Fear, Fear to understand the other's meaning. We are humans, ordained to live as he, God wills, and Die as he wills. Follow me if this message rings a bell, at @vic26c on Tweeps.
Shalom, Salaam, Good Afternoon.

Posted by: shaw | Aug 1 2018 20:00 utc | 4

Thanks again b for a solid report on the Syrian peoples victory over Israeli belligerance. There must have been some extraordinay diplomatc meeting behind the scenes between Syria, Russia and Israel to prevent the latter from further sabotage of the Daraa clearance. Now to nobble Turkish beligerance and dreams of empire in the north. It seems the Kurds are desperate for an accomodation but I wouldnt bet on a good outcome there as the current geographical arrangement is vital to Israels plan to smash Syria.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Aug 1 2018 20:10 utc | 5

Neuters: Syrian Druze bury dead as anger over Islamic State attacks grows

..Many community leaders and top Druze religious leaders' refusal to sanction enlistment in the army forces had long caused strains with the Damascus authorities.

A Russian military delegation that had recently visited Sweida and asked community leaders to sanction local militias enrollment in a Russian-backed offensive in southwestern Syria to regain rebel held territory had met refusal, a Druze official familiar with the matter said...

The words 'cake' & 'eat it' spring to mind.

On another note: "We were so close to peace before that asshole shot Rabin." - Never Mess with the Zohan (2008).

Posted by: et Al | Aug 1 2018 20:16 utc | 6

Re-- my comment @ 3 D parvaz. I would be interested to here any opinions or critique on this article and the blog in general ! Only found it to day. Does she know something we don't know!!!

Posted by: Mark2 | Aug 1 2018 20:19 utc | 7

Shaw @4.

I see you praise Ezekiel!

(Do you read him? Back in the glory days of the 12 tribes, as a binder and flavoring to sandwiches, the jews added, in various forms, cow dung, and donkey dung, and sheep dung, and goat dung. Now, this prophet Ezekiel (whose brown wrinkle you kiss) was suddenly infatuated, absolutely infatuated! with the power-grab idea of jerusalem as the capital for the hebrews. Read very carefully how Ezekiel planned to lay siege and overtake jerusalem. Hint: by feeding the residents human shit sandwiches! Biological warfare!)

Put that in your torah pipe and smoke it!

Posted by: DineroDProfit | Aug 1 2018 21:14 utc | 8

thanks b... this is an encouraging overview.. and that is one hell of a video with the isis crew going to jail too..

i think the plan of converting the 'moderate headchoppers' to work for saa is brilliant.. i can barely conceive how it could be pulled off, but this kind of thinking obviously makes a difference.. i hope they are able to apply it in idlib as well..

Posted by: james | Aug 1 2018 21:54 utc | 9

We're so accustomed to think of political solutions defined by the US paradigm - bloc power politics - that it's confounding to see what emerges from the Russian approach - interest balancing and local conflict resolution. It takes nimble minds to get things done. That's why US forces in the northeast are left with their fingers up their butts.

Thinkprogress conforms to mainstream Democratic Party liberalism, i.e. sheepherding left-liberals into supporting pro-interventionist and neoliberal projects. They do lots of bellyaching over Russia, although impending US withdrawal from Syria is definite good news. If I were to place a bet, it would be on them starting some drumbeat of alarm over the fate of the Kurds after US withdrawal.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Aug 1 2018 22:32 utc | 10

Antoinetta III @1

"Regarding these "Moderats" now changing sides and fighting alongside the Syrian Army, how can they be trusted?"

This only applies to Syrian citizens who were acting as 'moderates'. They can be monitored and observed during combat and afterwards. They also have to renounce a violent solution to Syria's problems. If they fail to meet the expectations, I imagine they will not be treated lightly. The non-local 'moderates' and ISIS fighters 'volunteer' for a bus ride to Idlib or die. Once the Idlib operation begins, the non-locals and ISIS will have nowhere to go.

Posted by: Yonatan | Aug 1 2018 23:00 utc | 11

I wonder if the Zionists realize that their failed Syrian Adventure has produced a generation of battle-hardened, high-morale soldiers in not only the Syrian Army, but also Iranian, Shi'ite Iraqi, and Hezbollah units that helped achieve victory in this conflict.

Posted by: phaedris | Aug 1 2018 23:04 utc | 12

Idlib topography creates a unique challenge. Mountains with caves will mean the Russian Aerospace must use very heavy bombs to uproot the ISIS and al Nusra crazies.

Considering the many scores of villages and the 2.5 million population, the most fanatical of fighters and no compromise, we will see a very intense campaign.

What will decide it tactically will be thermobaric artillery shells, bombs and missiles. The Russian precision use of these oxygen eating, hellfire munitions usually break the will of the fighters who are nearby. I expect also some Kalibre missiles will be used to obliterate large formations and hardened HQs of the takfiris.

The Russian General Staff will have planned this for over a year. Everyone knew this would be the denouement of the war. Idlib will be the final hell for the proxies.

And it will be closely watched by US military. They will face the same intensity should they not leave al Tanf and Hassake, Deir Ez Zor and Mayadin. It won't be fired at the Americans and proxies by Russians, but it will be the Syrians who would drive out the invaders.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Aug 1 2018 23:15 utc | 13

I wonder is Syria learned from Ukraine and Iraq and Yugoslavia. You've got to keep your people together regardless of religious and ethnic identities. It is a tall order, but herein are the wedges used by the CIA to divide and conquer.

Posted by: fast freddy | Aug 1 2018 23:19 utc | 14

@12 "I wonder if the Zionists realize that their failed Syrian Adventure has produced a generation of battle-hardened, high-morale soldiers in not only the Syrian Army, but also Iranian, Shi'ite Iraqi, and Hezbollah units that helped achieve victory in this conflict."

It has probably done a lot more than that. It will have gone a long way to restoring Arab dignity at street level and shown the Russians to be more trustworthy than the Americans.

Posted by: dh | Aug 1 2018 23:37 utc | 15

Thanks b, for the informed thread on Syria's latest struggles to be free of the empire's meddling.

Hope those "moderate" fighters are truly moderate.

#4 asked " What for?"
Answer: Like any corporation their objective is to dominate the "market". In this case the corporate empire's lust for market share extends globally, and Syria is viewed as a competitor, as are so many countries around the globe. They must be brought under the empire's control to acquire resource hegemony.

And so it goes around the globe. The corporately driven empire must have their resources.

It's all about business, and it's business uber alles...

IMO, of course...

Posted by: ben | Aug 2 2018 0:00 utc | 16

@Mark2 | Aug 1, 2018 3:49:01 PM | 3

Russians are becoming increasingly envolved in Syrias oil fields and production

I wouldn't be too excited about that. Syria's proven oil reserves are like 3 billion barrels, or about enough to last the U.S. half a year. Russia has 80 billion barrels.

I don't know if the 3 billion barrels will be enough to pay off Syria's war debts.

Posted by: Cyril | Aug 2 2018 0:36 utc | 17

Great update, and well-reasoned analysis (again), b.

Much has been happening in Syria, though it's not getting much coverage in either the MSM or "alternative" media, so it's great to see so much covered in one post.

I also read and saw on RT that the total evacuations of Foua and Kefraya in Idlib Province was not a one-off. Almost 30,000 other Syrian civilians have been allowed to evacuate along humanitarian corridors established by the RF.

Separately, I read that about 2 dozen of the 3 dozen women and children kidnapped in the ISIS attacks in Sweida were released in some sort of swap deal. I haven't seen any confirmation though. I fear for those kidnapped, so dearly hope the rumor proves true, and leads to the release of all remaining victims.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 2 2018 0:51 utc | 18

The quarter million displaced persons the UN claimed to be in the area have not been found.

Must have died in the last gay hospital, from the barrel bomb! :))

Posted by: Harry | Aug 2 2018 0:56 utc | 19

As others have commented, there's a very powerful ingredient here, which is the growing ability to turn opposing combatants into fellow combatants, to help fight against whatever is left beyond the pale.

Can anyone tell me if this approach existed before the Russians came? In other words, is this a native Syria (or Middle East) tactic?

I have long admired the Syrian strategy of converting hostiles back to the side of the country. I've had the impression this existed long before the Russians came, in fact from the start of hostilities. It's a minor point, but I would appreciate any clarity anyone can supply.

And I agree it's a brilliant dynamic. Not only is the government side getting better and better at doing it, the word that this option exists has flown to Idleb well before the approach of the storm, and for many people was even witnessed happening to others as they themselves were put on the buses. The knowledge of this possibility has had time to settle into the minds of fighters, and given them time to make their minds up secretly, for when the moment comes.

Posted by: Grieved | Aug 2 2018 0:58 utc | 20

@ Antoinetta III | 1

Regarding these "Moderats" now changing sides and fighting alongside the Syrian Army, how can they be trusted?

There is a filtration, i.e. Syrian rebels who dont have blood on their hands are offered amnesty and can join the army. Non-Syrians dont get such option.

Its not that all "moderates" were actually rebels either, just during the war and collapsing economy many families (or even communities) had no way to maintain themselves. Lets say Saudi/Qatar/US recruiters come and offer $500-1500pm to join "the rebellion." A lot of desperate people did.

Now that foreign funding stopped and Assad is restoring control and order (plus paying salaries), its an easy switch back. They may be seen as traitors and will be carefully watched, but to some extent their situation can be understood, and its not like you will get peace ASAP by killing everyone.

@ Grieved | 20

Can anyone tell me if this approach existed before the Russians came? In other words, is this a native Syria (or Middle East) tactic?

This tactic was used by Assad for years before Russia joined the fight in 2015. Its not a "native" tactic to any region, just a common sense solution used through entire history of humankind. There were thousands of such cases, everywhere. Most predominantly it was used by Persian and Inca empires, i.e. subjugating enemies in a peaceful way, converting enemies to alies.

Posted by: Harry | Aug 2 2018 1:37 utc | 21

Harry @19

Posted by: spudski | Aug 2 2018 1:41 utc | 22

There appears to be a lot of surprise in this thread at the Syrian government turning captured enemy soldiers in their army. This is a far more common occurence than people raised on the bullsh1t propaganda of amerika could know.
Most cannon fodder has zero real understanding of or interest in their leaders' motives. Basic training as practiced by just about every army since the days of the Roman Empire is designed to rip out all that nonsense and replace it with a much simpler, more straightforward and comprehensible motivation "Do what you are told to do".
In the late 1940's when the French were pissed following the humiliation of losing control of Syria and Lebanon to the englanders, de Gaulle decided he needed to build up an army to steal back colonies in the ME, Africa and Indochina but most French blokes were needed to rebuild France.

So he greatly expanded the French Foreign Legion using the very blokes he had fought a coupla years previously. Former soldiers for the Nazis from Germany, Austria, Ukraine and Romania were pressed into service in the Foreign Legion. Many of the types selected were those who had fled west ahead of the Soviet victories over the Nazis. The rest were just the dross getting underfoot all over the joint after the end of the euro fighting. They swapped from torturing local French resistance to Nazi rule to torturing local resistance to French rule. The big plus was that these former nazi fighters had been indoctrinated into doing what they were told and most had been blooded in battle.

AFAIK there wasn't much trouble from these types, certainly not the same level of internal dissent that amerika enjoyed with their draft army in Indochina.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Aug 2 2018 2:13 utc | 23

@21 Harry

Thank you. It may seem naive - it is naive - but I lacked that perspective, and I'm grateful for it.

Posted by: Grieved | Aug 2 2018 2:34 utc | 24

The winning post is in sight!
Things have come a long way since 2016 and Aleppo.

Posted by: adamski | Aug 2 2018 2:38 utc | 25

Concerning reconciliation deals, they were surely used early on, however the government could not use it too often because it was so overstretched, while rebels were well funded and quite confident. After the fall of EASTERN Aleppo, that confidence started to gradually sag, and once ISIS was finished as a hegemon of east Syria and elite units of SAA could operate without being restricted to narrow corridors where they could be attacked from either side, one can see a domino effect, as equipment, training and morale of SAA was improving, the reverse was true for the rebels -- their equipment was perhaps still improving, but much less so the training and morale.

ISIS problem is more acute, IMHO, than Idlib "moderates". ISIS is good at brainwashing and effective ruthless tactics, and few are as effective as they are in the deserts. Perhaps Tanf is helping them, perhaps they have hiding caves and tunnels and sleeping cells in some populated locations, from the news items, getting rid of them resembles handling very hardy weeds. The numbers are small, and they are not invincible. but with no relocation deals this will be a fight to death. In the meantime, keeping terrorist attacks in check rises to a top priority.

Idlib is probably more similar to Daraa, thousands of militants who lost faith in the cause, but who need paychecks to feed their families, however meagerly. In that motley there are also diehards, but those diehards have a extensive history of infighting. However, there are also various developments. Will ISIS commit more atrocities, the next direction will be there, if moderates cobble a (relatively) large scale attack on Latakia province or Aleppo, elite unites would go there.

Trump betrayed Syrian Kurds in few ways, and they suffer under economic blockade. Integration with Damascus can profit them more than promised Gulfie subsidies.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 2 2018 2:42 utc | 26

Al Tanf. Cant wait to see it closed down in humiliation. Maybe after Idlib..

Posted by: Lozion | Aug 2 2018 3:09 utc | 27

Would the USA Clinonites would be "man" enough to enlist "Never-Trumpers" to its ranks?

Posted by: Guerrero | Aug 2 2018 3:20 utc | 28

Grieved @20, I recalled Assad offering amnesty to Syrian “rebels” quite early. It seems it was part of that whole package he granted that included reducing Presidential Powers, creating term limits and scheduling a new election (which they held in 2014), releasing “political prisoners” (which a few months ago was spun as Assad deliberately setting Jihadist nutjobs loose on the people), etc.

So, I did a quick web search, and find this from July, 2013 (of course, it still paints Assad as basically bad):

“Disillusioned by the Islamist twist that the "revolution" in Syria has taken, exhausted after more than two years of conflict and feeling that they are losing, growing numbers of rebels are signing up to a negotiated amnesty offered by the Assad regime.

At the same time, the families of retreating fighters have begun quietly moving back to government-controlled territory, seen as a safer place to live as the regime continues its intense military push against rebel-held areas.

The move is a sign of the growing confidence of the regime, which has established a so-called "ministry of reconciliation" with the task of easing the way for former opponents to return to the government side.

Ali Haider, the minister in charge, said: "Our message is, 'if you really want to defend the Syrian people, put down your weapons and come and defend Syria in the right way, through dialogue'."

And yes, this amnesty and all of the other concessions Assad made very early were both tactically smart, and also wise. Unfortunately, almost nobody knows about them, including even within Syria, in "rebel-held" territory.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 2 2018 3:41 utc | 29

Debsisdead @23

Great points. And since I loves me some irony so much, I’d add that another group of those guys de Gaulle and the Free French had just been fighting were carved out by the US/Great Britain to form the “Stay Behind Armies." The most famous was Gladio, which was uncovered and prosecuted to some extent by the Italian government.

And, de Gaulle himself was targeted for assassination by these guys many, many times. They're the reason de Gaulle told young President JFK to dissolve CIA.

Ever since reading and watching “The Untold History of the US,” I’ve dreamt of the different world we’d have if FDR had kept Henry Wallace as Vice President in 1944. If he’d been President in 1945, I really doubt that France and Britain would have been able to try to rebuild their colonial empires, and the entire Cold War could have been averted.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 2 2018 3:54 utc | 30

Daniel if Wallace was VP when FDR died the same devils that got JFK and tried to do De Gaulle would have done him in. If not we probably have a Theocracy today. Lol

I still have an issue with him paying farmers to burn crops and pork to keep prices high rather than purchasing them And sharing with the starving people. By some accounts as many as 8 million died due to starvation.

Satirical article on the evils of sharing I found amusing.

Posted by: Pft | Aug 2 2018 4:40 utc | 31

LOL Pft. That essay is pretty good satire. Which is hard today when reality makes satire redundant.

Have you got good links to criticism of Wallace? It drives me nuts that in the US, we destroy food to "support farmers." In CA's Central Valley, some of the farmers would let people go pick food before they plowed it under.

BTW: re. that July 2013 article on Assad's amnesty program shows the program had already been in place for some time by then. And that article was more than a month before Putin stepped in to work out the deal whereby Syria surrendered its chemical weapons to avoid the US/NATO "decapitation" bombing.

Do y'all remember how that played out? At a press conference, somebody asked Sec. of State Kerry if there was any way for Assad to avoid the coming "Fire and Fury." And Kerry joked that Assad could give up all his chemical weapons... then added, but we know he won't do that.

Then, it seemed like the next day, Putin went public saying Assad had agreed to Kerry's terms.

Even at the time I wondered if Kerry had accidentally created an opening that Putin and Assad charged through, or if it was deliberate (recall that both the US Congress and the UK Parliament refused to support the bombing).

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 2 2018 5:41 utc | 32

Much of the reconciliation work is done by the Russians. They are like a halfway house or something. Russian military police also police reconciliation areas for a period with no SAA entering those areas.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 2 2018 5:50 utc | 33

Posted by: Red Ryder | Aug 1, 2018 7:15:14 PM | 13

And it will be closely watched by US military. They will face the same intensity should they not leave al Tanf and Hassake, Deir Ez Zor and Mayadin. It won't be fired at the Americans and proxies by Russians, but it will be the Syrians who would drive out the invaders.

I wonder how likely it is the Americans will let themselves be driven out this way or just leave on their own.

As opposed to, they could respond with a massive escalation against the Assad regime, a large scale conventional offensive like the offensive they launched against Saddam's regime. After all, a modern government structure like Syria's is far more vulnerable to regular warfare than for example the Taliban's guerrilla mode of operation.

Posted by: Russ | Aug 2 2018 7:03 utc | 34

@ Russ | 34

As opposed to, they could respond with a massive escalation against the Assad regime, a large scale conventional offensive like the offensive they launched against Saddam's regime. After all, a modern government structure like Syria's is far more vulnerable to regular warfare than for example the Taliban's guerrilla mode of operation.

US might do few more empty missile strikes, thats about it. To try full invasion like against Saddam wont work for many reasons:

* It would mean escalation against Russia, Iran and Hezb. It would be a really stupid thing to do for US.
* Assad is ready for it, with well armed, battle hardened and loyal army.
* Even if they manage to assassinate Assad, there are many who would step into his shoes and continue the fighting.

It wouldnt be anything like Iraq or Libya, not even like Vietnam, but something far worse for the invaders. US military knows it, therefore its not going to happen. If Trump asks Putin, the answer would be: Niet!

Posted by: Harry | Aug 2 2018 8:52 utc | 35


if you consider that the majority of grunts on the battlefield can't even bring themselves to fire at the enemy, laying down arms as part of some reconciliation deal seems like a no-brainer to me.

Posted by: john | Aug 2 2018 10:04 utc | 36

As powerful as the western allies tell us they are, there showing there vonrabilitys !
The lack of media coverage indicates them not wanting to report Syrian good news. The more Syria can do to counter that the better.
A bit early yet but a large scale return of 'happy' refugees, will provide a positive mood to be encouraged by the rest of the world!! Presenting the possibility of similar in other war zones.
I wonder is that main trade road north to south open yet? That will be a big step forward.
Some will say I'm to optimistic but for Siria it's surely now about keeping up the mommentum, hard and fast.
As they say once you win the war you have to win the peace!!!

Posted by: Mark2 | Aug 2 2018 10:45 utc | 37

Cyril @3 & thirdeye @ 10
Thanks for the input much appreciated !

Posted by: Mark2 | Aug 2 2018 10:51 utc | 38

@ Harry 35

Oh, I didn't mean to imply I think toppling Assad would be easy, the way toppling Saddam was the easy part. But I suspect most US neocons think it would be the same cakewalk, and my thoughts were more in terms of what the US government thinks and therefore what it might try.

As for confronting Russia, I don't know how long Putin intends to maintain a red line in Syria - for the duration, until the US really is gone? At any rate there too we know many if not all neocons are gung ho to confront Russia directly. Thus they wanted Hillary and her promised attempt to impose a no-fly zone, which would guarantee direct confrontation.

Could the mercurial Trump suddenly decide he wants to go this route after all? I sure don't rule it out. We still have the ongoing mystery of why he's loaded his administration with those same WWIII-mongering neocons, and why US forces are still in Syria at all.

One thing's for sure, as long as US forces are there, anything's possible, since the US has no coherent rationale in the first place, let alone with Trump as president.

Posted by: Russ | Aug 2 2018 11:14 utc | 39

Iraq have experienced 2 consecutive war with Iran and Gulf countries in which the country from then on under economic blockade. Further the Kurdish uprising by mossad and continuous infrastructure bombing campaign by the US severely damage the basic need of their population which in turn severely destroy Saddam government popularity.

It was by no means easy to topple Saddam. Same with Libyan Gaddafi. Took years of efforts in subterfuges and conspiracy.

Posted by: cbrown | Aug 2 2018 12:38 utc | 40

@ dh | Aug 1, 2018 7:37:25 PM | 15

Likely there will be a long-term diplomatic change in Europe because of the refuge influx. USA will be identified as sewing chaos, and Russia will be identified as solving the Syrian refuge crisis.

Perhaps Russia might even be asked to help find a solution to the Libyan crisis?

Posted by: Enrico Malatesta | Aug 2 2018 12:49 utc | 41

1 Antoinetta,

How van these converst be trusted?

Simple by doing like the Romans did:

All newcomers, new recruits, novices are in the first lines.
the more seasoned and vetted soldiers are behind them to
slaughter them should need arise.

Posted by: CarlD | Aug 2 2018 14:51 utc | 42

@ 1

How to trust the "Moderats"

Just like the Roman Legions did:
All newcomers on the front line.
The vetted and experienced one behind.

Posted by: CarlD | Aug 2 2018 15:36 utc | 43

The Al Tanf region has the oil fields. Expect more false flags and great resistance. Maybe some Trumpy "Boots on the Ground" (To fight Terra!).

Posted by: fastfreddy | Aug 2 2018 16:00 utc | 44

@Pft | Aug 2, 2018 12:40:39 AM | 31

Satirical article on the evils of sharing I found amusing.

LOL. Thanks for the link!

"Razor sharp American exceptionalism was forged by kicking ass and taking what’s rightfully ours, which is everything."

Double LOL.

Posted by: Cyril | Aug 2 2018 16:01 utc | 45

Re 6
On another note: "We were so close to peace before that asshole shot Rabin." - Never Mess with the Zohan (2008).

That asshole was the Israeli Mossad. They wanted him dead to prevent Palestinian autonomy. They won. They allowed the shooter - perhaps a patsy -- to remain in the restricted area where Rabin's car was for hours. A Zapruder style video showed him hanging out there.

Posted by: Ronald | Aug 2 2018 16:30 utc | 46

According to intel I've read, the city of Idleb is to be spared if at all possible, with the current main thrust aimed at liberating Latakia along the line of Jisr al-Shughur/Saraqib and thus divide the province. The force being assembled for this operation will be Syria's largest to-date. Sochi again reinforced the aim of continuing Syria's territorial integrity, which means zero gains for Turkey and Outlaw US Empire. (Indeed, it seems Turkey has become a whole new front for the Outlaw US Empire likely causing Turkey to abandon NATO, which it would need to do to join SCO.)

Further Zionist links to the terrorists are being uncovered, this time drones of Zionist manufacture. I hope all barflies will read this take on Fisk's findings, particularly PavewayIV's long comment afterwards. IMO, no NATO nation will be able to avoid the pending litigation proving their support for Terrorism that will represent the acme of the Syrian and its allies victory--such litigation will be based on the UNSC Resolution against providing material support for Daesh, al-Ciada and affiliated terrorist groups. IMO, such litigation represents a dagger aimed at NATO's heart--and deservedly so.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 2 2018 16:49 utc | 47

Seems like very promising developments for the people of Syria all around, but I'm deeply skeptical that CENTCOM et al will be willing to simply pack up and go home. All they need is another "chemical weapons" attack on the part of "Animal Assad" or better yet some "terrorism" from Iran to escalate. Aren't there plenty of USAID's favorite proxy the White Helmets still around in Idlib to pull off either one?

Posted by: leopold bloom | Aug 2 2018 16:57 utc | 48

Russia, instead of Israel, now claims Iran backed forces have been forced to withdraw from the Golam Heights border with Israel up to a certain point, which apparently Israel is still not satisfied with. Any update on this development? It was claimed in a few blog posts by b that Israeli claims of this very same development was fake news or overblown.

Posted by: Ninel | Aug 2 2018 17:04 utc | 49

The 'word' is begining to spread far and wide. It's when we add all the the jig saw together you see the huge crime that's been commited, the conspiracy of it all.
America spending 2 million on fake terrorist videos while spreading fear and hatred of Moslems in USA . Thus trump winning the election. The funding by us uk of terrorists, the weapons made in Israil Europe and god knows where . Just today I learnt they were funding arcada through Sudan with your and my tax payers money. We paid for those beheadings ! And suicide bombers in the Middle East and on our own streets. The millions that died. The tens of millions displaced/refugee. Where's the outrage where's the front page head line !!!

Posted by: Mark2 | Aug 2 2018 17:16 utc | 50

Ninel @49--

I suggest you view the second page of comments on the latest open thread that destroy the notion you suggest and prove it Zionist bullshit.

Info on Turkey situation I mentioned @47. All in the pursuit of Zerosumism:

"If Turkey is able to maintain its position of strength in the face of the threat of further US sanctions, other nations will likely be inspired to also defy US threats and in so doing, the US will actually be unintentionally sanctioning itself if the countries it targets end up trading with the wider world except for the United States."

With the Outlaw US Empire gaining the Zero.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 2 2018 17:31 utc | 51

@44 'The Al Tanf region has the oil fields.'

No it doesn't. Most of the oilfields are in Der ez-Zor province.

Al Tanf is an important border crossing between Syria and Iraq. The US wants to control any Iranian traffic between Damascus and Baghdad.

Posted by: dh | Aug 2 2018 17:32 utc | 52

@52 preventing the re-opening of the highway between Damascus and Baghdad is also to blunt economic exchanges for both countries. Al Tanf needs to be shut asap..

Posted by: Lozion | Aug 2 2018 18:01 utc | 53

@10 thirdeye... i agree... i don't live in the usa, but as an outsider - and i say this about canada too where i do live) the usa has it's head up it's ass big time..

@41 Enrico Malatesta.. i think you are exactly right in your interpretation of all that..

@47 karlof1.. thanks for the link on robert fisk work.. i did read the independent articles in the past 1-2 weeks as someone left them here - peter and who knows else.. i liked the quote from paveway in response to a question put to him. i am going to quote it here as i think it is relevant..
" goingbrokes Pave Way IV • 3 days ago

Great info, thanks. So, how does the Dept of Offence or some watchdog (or anybody) trace weapons trails backward?

Pave Way IV goingbrokes • 2 days ago

You're not suppose to be able to do that - the government(s) involved prefer the public does not know. You have the most sophisticated intelligence agencies in the world working hard to obscure the trail through shell company transfers, fake paperwork and altered weapon markings. Watchdog organizations like Conflict Armament Research dig up a lot, but are western government-funded (bias?). The public seems largely indifferent to their findings, and the MSM ignores it.

The rare time an investigative reporter is able to make any sense of it, they get censored (Hersh), get whacked, i.e. Serena Shim, or are fired. Dilyana Gaytandzhiev lost her job but managed to stay alive despite pissing off the CIA and exposing their arms trafficking ratline to Syria using diplomatic flights of Azerbijani's Silk Ways Airlines"

@52 dh.. thanks for clarifying that for fast freddy..

Posted by: james | Aug 2 2018 18:14 utc | 54

Further info on regional anti-Terror efforts show cooperation between two longstanding foes that'll serve to further complicate Outlaw US Empire efforts to reshape Balkan nations into vassals like Kosovo:

"In spite of a history of confrontation, modern Turkey and modern Serbia are waking up to the realities of the 21st century where the interests of both countries are linked due to both geography and broader geopolitical economic realities. At the same time, both Ankara and Belgrade have realised that their common enemy is not one-another, but those who seek to inflect the presence of dangerous terror groups like FETO on the west Balkans in order to sow discord among the few stable states of the region."

Although first played by the Outlaw US Empire, the Terrorism/ist Card can now be freely used by other nations; so, following the budding Turkish-Serbian friendship and their invoking the Card in support of their shared interests will prove instructive.

FYI--The Turkish Foreign Minister attended ASEAN meeting along with Iran's as the BRI/EAEU dynamic continues to rapidly grow.

For the record, I'm astounded by the utter stupidity of the Outlaw US Empire's policy toward Turkey that's effectively caused it to lose the Great Game to control the Heartland. If someone told me in 2000 that Turkey and Russia would be allies by 2020, I'd have told them to get a better crystal ball given their centuries of conflict. I must applaud Putin and his entire team for their restraint after the Plane Shootdown and ability to steer Erdogan into their camp, which was clearly a long-range policy goal.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 2 2018 18:28 utc | 55

karlof1 55

Trump seems to be trying to play the geopolitical chess game, but the kiddies that make the laws in the US keep messing it up. Not that I mind as I don't think Trump's intentions in the Middle East are benign. Like watching a couple of donkeys tied to each other and each trying to go different directions.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 2 2018 19:10 utc | 56

Apparently some country's with large refuge camps are preventing them from returning home! Becouse they get large amounts of our tax payers money and there usefull cheap labour! So remind me are refuges a good thing or a bad thing ! There is know end to this western insanity.

Posted by: Mark2 | Aug 2 2018 19:51 utc | 57

Would the USA Clinonites would be "man" enough to enlist "Never-Trumpers" to its ranks?

Im more confused than usual. Sorry to make no sense. The reference
here is to Syria's admission of former rebels into its military ranks.

Try this:

"Would the USA Clintonites ever genuinely welcome someone wearing a MAGA baseball
cap to fight with them for democracy, green energy, and three bathrooms in the schools?

Posted by: Guerrero | Aug 2 2018 21:53 utc | 58

Guerrero @58--

As proven during 2016, Clintonites do not "fight … for democracy, green energy, and" want public schools corporatized, policy goals all favored by their supposed GOP opponents. Just look at the number of democrat senators who voted for the $717 billion for war and armaments thus robbing more taxpayers and sending their monies to the .01% Divisions at the street level are used to mask collusion where power's exercised, which is why the system's called the Duopoly.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 2 2018 22:15 utc | 59

Got to hand it to Hezbollah. They're a real professional outfit. You hardly ever see them in the videos anymore because the Syrian Army found its feet, but in the early days they were defending the gates man. Selfless warriors right there.

Posted by: jezabeel | Aug 2 2018 22:22 utc | 60

Idlib might end be very quick, simply because Russia and Turkey can leverage the rebels to give up arms and negotiate terms.
What's the situation with the thousands of Uyghur's that went to Syria? This is the most recent account I could find via Bing:

Posted by: aaaa | Aug 3 2018 1:14 utc | 61

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Turkish army has sent several trucks carrying chlorine to the Ankara-backed terrorists' stronghold in Idlib, media sources reported on Thursday, adding that a number of commanders of militant groups have left the region.

from farsnews...

Posted by: james | Aug 3 2018 2:20 utc | 62

God bless Assad, God Bless Hezbollah, God Bless the IRGC and God Bless the good Syrian people who had to suffer all those years of Obama, Clinton and Kerry's liberal authoritarian imperial attacks.
Liberals and Leftists, they always make themselves look like saints yet are the greatest butchers around. Stalin was a liberal but he's painted as otherwise.
I spit on you Obama you sick degenerate bastard and your witch Hilary.
How can you sleep at night you filthy rotten piece of infested garbage?
Go fornicate yourself Obama.
Hilary is slowly rotting away, a slow painful death.
Just look at her, everyday she loses more marbles.
Good riddance to bad garbage.

Posted by: Fernando Arauxo | Aug 3 2018 3:40 utc | 63

@61: I'm surprised the Chinese didn't actively participate in the fight against ISIS. Perhaps they were counting on the Russian alliance to deal with their problem. Now, they have a huge problem which gives Turkey leverage.

Posted by: Ian | Aug 3 2018 4:00 utc | 64

karlof1 @47 and all who followed...

Thanks for pointing out SouthFront’s look at Robert Fisk’s report, and the CAR studies. Some months ago, b pointed us towards CAR’s study of weapons retrieved from ISIS, which revealed much interesting information.

I can’t seem to post what I’d put together with all the quotes and links from the 3 different CAR studies, so I’ll just try to sum it up.

I was shocked to see that Russian and former Soviet states were the sources of most of the ISIS weapons, but digging in a bit more, a fuller picture arose. These weapons were almost entirely manufactured prior to 2010 (the majority pre-1990), and were purchased by the US and KSA and then sent to “rebels” in Syria.

So, the US and its vassal state, KSA bought tons of weapons from the former Soviet Union to provide to the "rebels" in Syria. This looks like a deliberate subterfuge.

But, as ammunition got used up due to the war lasting much longer than expected, the "Coalition" was required to manufacture new ammo and to ship it, and the US-sourced heavy weapons Fisk and others have recorded.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 3 2018 4:31 utc | 65

All these deaths go on the US's and Israel's death card as facilitators and aggressors.

Posted by: StephenLaudig | Aug 3 2018 4:53 utc | 66

Mother Agnes Mariam was promoting reconciliation agreements well before 2013, and she was smeared for it. Later, in Aug. 2013, she compiled photos of Missing Latakia children and Ghouta alleged chemical attacks. People who hosted her talks in the US received death threats.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Aug 3 2018 9:11 utc | 67

@65 daniel.. thanks for that summation.. it is very useful to know..

Posted by: james | Aug 3 2018 15:55 utc | 68

Daniel @65--

Yes, most former Warsaw Pact weaponry was shipped from Bulgaria and Romania and was quickly consumed, forcing CIA to supply and train its terrorists using NATO arms and ammo. Lots of Zionist weaponry supplied too as revealed by the many caches uncovered from liberated terrorist lairs throughout Syria. Many videos posted at Southfront and Muraselon provide confirmation.

As for Syria's homefront, much is returning to normal. Close to a million refugees are expected to return in August and the annual Damascus International Fair begins in September with 48 nations already committed to attending. Rebuilding will provide numerous jobs which will continue to ease social tensions, while much of the Kurdish problems are being settled in quiet dealings with the Syrian government.

The situation in Idlib resembles that in Daraa as many villages--over 100--have announced their desire to reconcile with Damascus and several humanitarian evacuation corridors are already being utilized. It's conceivable Idlib could be liberated before 2018 ends. 2019 will see a huge push to expel all Outlaw US Empire forces from Syraq.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 3 2018 16:30 utc | 69

@21, Harry

"There is a filtration, i.e. Syrian rebels who dont have blood on their hands are offered amnesty and can join the army. Non-Syrians dont get such option.

Its not that all "moderates" were actually rebels either, just during[...]"

Thank you for the clarification, Harry.

Posted by: Sonora | Aug 3 2018 20:35 utc | 70

There's an interesting story over at Zerohedge. Apparently the Chinese are openly discussing getting directly involved in Syria as the expected battle for Idlib begins to ramp up:

Posted by: phaedris | Aug 4 2018 3:40 utc | 71

@23 It wasn't only the French Foreign Legion who welcomed former Nazi soldiers. Where do you think the original Green Berets came from? While at a language school I met a Green Beret sergeant who had previously been an SS Sturmscharfuhrer (Platoon leader) in the Waffen SS. He was Ukrainian and had a particular hate for Russians/Communists. The Green Berets were originally supposed to infiltrate their native countries in Eastern Europe and foment insurrections there in World War III. Of course they had to be able to speak the language and know the culture, and the use of Waffen SS soldiers made sense. I don't know how well they were screened for people who committed atrocities, but I suspect not very well.

Posted by: Procopius | Aug 4 2018 4:00 utc | 72

There's an interesting story over at Zerohedge. Apparently the Chinese are openly discussing getting directly involved in Syria as the expected battle for Idlib begins to ramp up:
((link omitted by Hw))
Posted by: phaedris | Aug 3, 2018 11:40:30 PM | 71

Very significant, imo. It's been mentioned on CGTN.
I had to laugh when I heard it because yesterday Xymphora summed up an article about US bloviation thus:

"Washington Renders itself Irrelevant by Pushing China and Russia Closer Together" (Berger). The most striking thing throughout is that the Americans always act in such a way to cause the thing they don't want. Over and over!"

It is apparent that the Coalition of Christian Colonial Clowns is still clinging to its daydream of destroying Syria come Hell or high water. "News" reports about Syria still regularly include Evil Assad tropes against a backdrop of the likelihood that the Syrian Govt will prevail and Assad will stay...

There's a delicious irony in the ZH cite...
"The [Chinese] military is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian army that is fighting the terrorists in Idlib and in any other part of Syria," the ambassador said.

Russia has always maintained that it doesn't have Russian Army boots on the ground in Syria - so China is pondering committing Chinese Army boots to operate in the service of the Russia-Syria commanders.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 4 2018 6:53 utc | 73

This is interesting;
China is very concerned about Chinese Uyghur's joining ISIS.

Posted by: V | Aug 4 2018 8:11 utc | 74

Oops, I see HW beat me to it, sorry...

Posted by: V | Aug 4 2018 8:12 utc | 75 Written by Peter Ford, former UK Ambassador to Syria 2003 – 2006

Posted by: MR | Aug 15 2018 15:57 utc | 76

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