Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 25, 2020

Syria - Army Moves To Liberate M4 Highway - Turkish Russian Standoff Continues

The Syrian Arab Army continues its campaign to liberate Idleb governorate. The current main area of operation is in the southeast of the terrorist held area where the SAA attacks in a northern and western direction. The aim of the operation is to bring the M4 highway from Latakia to Aleppo under government control.

Idleb governorate Feb 17 2020

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During the last two days more than 20 towns and villages in the southeast have been liberated. The enemy lines in the area have broken down and the remaining resistance is not strong.

Idleb governorate Feb 25 2020

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A fighter and 'war correspondent' on the 'rebel' side explains why the Syrian army can make such fast progress:

[T]he Russians use their reconnaissance drones very well which makes you unable to move your forces on the frontlines and use your supply routes as you wish. Everything the drone sees moving is getting hit after maximum 2-3 minutes by Russian war planes. I hope and believe that now since the frontlines are more hilly and mountainous areas the Russian and Iranian-backed Assad militants will have more difficulties and face much stronger resistance by the fighting factions.

Planes and drones don't care about mountains.

More fighting is taking place west of Saraqib in the town Nayarb next to the M4 highway. Strong Turkish supported terrorist forces have counterattacked there and over the last week Nayarb has changed hands four times. It is currently considered no man's land.

Nayrab-Saraqib Feb 25 2020

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The Turkish plan is obviously to reconquer Saraqib and to thereby interrupt traffic on the M5 highway which the SAA has only recently liberated and reopened to civilian traffic. But every attack soon got stuck in Nayarb and lots of the new Turkish equipment that was used was destroyed.

Since its invasion of Idleb Turkey equipped its mercenaries and the Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) terrorists with U.S. made M-113 infantry carrier vehicles and with light armored infantry tanks. They also received more anti-tank missiles. The Turkish army is supporting them with artillery. The Turkish army also fired man portable air defense weapons (MANPADs) against Syrian helicopter and Russian warplanes. A Turkish drone which earlier today had entered Syrian airspace was shot down.

Several Turkish convoys which attempted to move further south have been attacked by the Russian airforce. Russia claimed that at least 13 Turkish troops died or were wounded yesterday though Turkey has not issued any news on that.

Today the military airport near Taftanaz north of Saraqib was bombed by Syrian and Russian planes. The airport is not in use but the Turkish army has used it as an artillery and logistic position.

The Russians seem to have returned the airplanes to the contingent in Syria which were previously withdrawn. They are currently back at flying more than 200 missions per day.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is still trying to argue with Russia about the Syrian army campaign. He will not reach any new agreement unless he commits to the points Russia proposed:

1- 16-km border strip in Idlib under Turkey control
2- Russia controls crossing between Idlib strip and Afrin
3- M4 and M5 opened under joint Russian-Turkish supervision
4- Retreat of observation points to border strip

An attempt to arrange a March 5 meeting with France, Germany, Turkey and Russia has not yet been accepted by the Russian side. It would likely be useless as Russia has nothing to gain from changing its position.

Today Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again defended the Russian standpoint in a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council:

According to him, the international community and the Human Rights Council need to create a barrier against extremists because some forces tend to justify the atrocities of radical and terrorist groups. "Otherwise it is hard to explain their statements about a possible truce with bandits, which are made during discussions of the situation in Idlib," Lavrov pointed out. "It has nothing to do with concerns about human rights, it is a surrender to terrorists, which would encourage them to continue blatantly violating universal conventions and numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions," the Russian top diplomat added.

The U.S. has made clear that it will not support Erdogan's Syria adventure except by words. This was evident last week when the spokesperson of the U.S. anti-ISIS campaign said that Idleb governorate is a "magnet" for terrorist groups who are a "nuisance, a menace and a threat" to the hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria.

Erdogan's threat to attack with his whole army should Syria not withdraw to the previous lines by March 1 is obviously empty. The Russian airforce would pulverize the Turkish forces before they could reach the front lines.

Erdogan is in a challenging position. If he orders his army to attack in full force he will have to justify the likely very high losses in an unwinnable war. If he retreats from his harsh rhetoric and accepts the Russian points those nationalists who still support him will have further doubts about his leadership.

Posted by b on February 25, 2020 at 17:19 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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So, on the maps, the green areas are, what, forests? (I’m not referring to the terrorists’ territorial green, but the green/greener spots throughout.)

Posted by: David G | Feb 25 2020 17:40 utc | 1

For Putin to change his position would send a signal to Israel, the US, the Saudis and Emirates that he is not serious about combatting their terrorists. Putin clearly cannot afford to do this and will not. In addition, Putin has a history of supporting his military leadership and deferring to its judgment. These factors point to a continuance of the present successful strategy until Syria has eliminated those terrorist factions considered a potential threat to Russia by Putin and his military. Since Syria and Russia have absolute control of the air there is no way that Turkey and its friendly head choppers can avoid defeat. Syria now has a Russian-trained military that is be quite capable of using the current proven strategies taught by Russia to continue to regain the rest of the country, even if the Russian military withdraws its active participation at some point. This is a massive defeat for the US but even more of a defeat for Israel. It also is a major reason why Putin is the foremost leader on the world stage today.

Posted by: Joseph Dillard | Feb 25 2020 17:58 utc | 2

Appears to be theater.
Objective at this point is clean-up the mess that was made, in place.
What would be done with the prisoners - very inconvenient.

Posted by: jared | Feb 25 2020 18:00 utc | 3

@David G: Yes, the greener spots are supposed to be forests, but they are drawn manually and may not always be reliable. For a better understanding of the terrain, look at a satellite map, e.g. ISWN Middle East Conflict Map.

Posted by: S | Feb 25 2020 18:02 utc | 4

Thanks, S.

Posted by: David G | Feb 25 2020 18:07 utc | 5

As always, Thank You *b*.

Posted by: Veritas X- | Feb 25 2020 18:08 utc | 6

How long before there's another coup attempt on Erdogan? The Turkish military must be getting annoyed with his slimy machinations.

Also, B, how's the decline in COVID-19 cases going?

Posted by: NoOneYouKnow | Feb 25 2020 18:08 utc | 7

The disgusting (((Western Media))) coverage of this campaign is appallingly dishonest and contradictory. ABC.net.au "news" reports acknowledge that the 'rebel' groups against whom Russia & the SAA are fighting are officially listed as Ter'rist organisatins by US.gov & Oz.gov and yet the sources for the reports are ALL 'rebel' outfits. But the tosh and drivel about "civilian suffering" blunders on regardless...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 25 2020 18:11 utc | 8

Kafr Nabl / Kafranbel is now also reported to have been liberated by the Syrians.

There were rumors of a second attempt today to shoot at a Russian plane using manpads. This was followed by very heavy bombardments on Taftanaz area. If the rumors are true, it is likely that a lot of Turkish military have been killed in the past few days. The reported airstrikes on a Turkish convoy near Kansafra are entirely credible, a few days before the Russians already threatened an earlier convoy near Al Bara.

The writing is on the wall that the mountainous part of southern Idlib is going to fall, along with the remaining parts of the Anadan plains still held by jihadists. When these strategic areas are recaptured, Jisr al Shughur and Kobane can be finally tackled. Then, the M4 can be rolled up from both sides.

I expect more desperate moves by Erdogan in the face of his crumbling proxies and more deliberate interdiction of these efforts by Russia.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 25 2020 18:15 utc | 9

All attacks on Nairab come with the aim of relieving pressure on the axis of Jabal Zawiya.

Posted by: Arata | Feb 25 2020 18:18 utc | 10

The area surrounding Nayrab has become a classic Kill Zone No Mans Land--terrorist forces enter and get killed. Then they repeat, and more get slain. And again. This same tactic's been employed at least a handful of times yet the terrorists don't learn, which is grand for SAA as their casualties are greatly reduced. The Tiger Forces have yet to reenter the fray. I still expect them to be employed on the main thrust toward Idlib City. Turkey has its own version of neo-Nazis called the Grey Wolves who've been operating in Idlib since the beginning of the War on Syria and are allied with the other terrorists. IMO, both are indoctrinated to the point where they're blind to seeing how they're being manipulated and wasted by Erdogan.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 25 2020 18:18 utc | 11

It looks like Russia will have to destroy Turkish artillary positions that seem to be hammering the saa forces, if it is serious about stopping Turkey's push.

Posted by: paul | Feb 25 2020 18:20 utc | 12

@ Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 25 2020 18:11 utc | 8

How dare you question the sanctioned official narrative!

For anyone still questioning the "democratic" intentions of "moderate" "Syrian" "rebels" should closely study the following educational video interview.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 25 2020 18:25 utc | 13

thanks b... looks like erdogan is running out of options, short committing to something much worse...so sad he is so slow to recognize the futililty of his actions..

Posted by: james | Feb 25 2020 18:29 utc | 14

The russians still remember the Stingers in the hands of mujahedeen (western supported "freedom fighters" like AQ) in Afghanistan in the 80's, and they are determined to do not suffer the same nightmare, so they will use crushing tactics, levelling all around the place where a MANPAD have been fired, and if the people who fired them where turkish, or CIA or Mossad or US soldiers or "normal" head-choppers, all will be killed quickly at any costs, that is the way to increase the costs/benefits of using this weapons for any group.

I am sure the ruskies have informed the turks in unequivocal terms around this red line, but it seems the turks only learn the lessons the hard way

Posted by: DFC | Feb 25 2020 18:46 utc | 15

The liberation of Kafr Nabl, a key city in southern Idlib, is regarded by some as one of the best bits of news of 2020 so far, perhaps as significant as the liberation of the M5. The whole of that area is now likely to fall.

Posted by: JohninMK | Feb 25 2020 18:53 utc | 16

DFC @15

The russians still remember the Stingers in the hands of mujahedeen (western supported "freedom fighters" like AQ) in Afghanistan in the 80's, and they are determined to do not suffer the same nightmare...

You are repeating `80s western MSM lies and propaganda. Stingers were nuisance Soviets dealt with with modified tactics. It did not change Soviet strategic direction nor contributed to it withdrawal.

Posted by: Abe | Feb 25 2020 18:58 utc | 17

Exactly the same as with rebel/IS MANPADS in Syria last 5 years that didn't change Russian strategic direction.

Posted by: Abe | Feb 25 2020 19:01 utc | 18

Only Assad and the Russians create refugees

It's really quite amazing, despite numerous Turkish offensives, including the sacking of Afrin, I don't remember hearing about 'millions of civilians fleeing a brutal dictator', it's only when the SAA advances that civilians are in harms way. Same story when the motley crew of Al Qaeda aligned rebels rolled into the land at the beginning or even when the Kurds advance.

How do all of these groups manage these bloodless advances?

Posted by: Christian J Chuba | Feb 25 2020 19:03 utc | 19

David G @ 1

So, on the maps, the green areas are, what, forests?

Nah, olive groves, so they provide some cover but are easily penetrated by tracked vehicles.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Feb 25 2020 19:16 utc | 20

re: karlof1 | Feb 25 2020 18:18 utc @ 11

Yes.
You are 100% Correct.
In about May 2019, I wrote a comment @Syrian Perspective as a reply to a troll-type named 'Fog of War' saying that he was totally wrong about the 'failing strategy of the SAA & RF-military' in northwestern Syria.
I said, more or less, it was becoming obvious what the *real strategy* was, but, I said I would not reveal it knowing it was soo anti-normal narrative one normally reads and, did NOT in any way want to reveal the *big secret*.
Didn't want any headchopper organizations aware of what the plan really was.
Anyway, I hinted at ....the coming 'meat grinder' and use of cauldrons.
I was 100% convinced the erDOGan had been 'flipped' by Putin after the ice scream at MAKS 2019 Airshow
The only problem for sultan-wannabe was....what to do with his headchoppers, MIT, turk military that were still 'closet' pro-jihaddi/cia/nato sycophants.
Well.
He sent the cream de lá cream of these groups to Libya to get them as far away as possible from Ankara.
The lower-level headchoppers and stupids He let stay where they were, closed the border to them, let the Saudis & Qatarians pay for ALL of the equipment and, Voilá!
Yep.
Idiots are idiots.
"Welcome to the Meat Grinder" and proudly receive your *Darwin Award trophy*, made of Pb-lead or Fe-iron depending on your grade of 'achievement'.
erDOGan is a true low-life.
But his behavior is relatively easy to predict.
X-

Posted by: Veritas X- | Feb 25 2020 19:16 utc | 21

Erdogan may like the traditional Sultan versus Tsar type of war game, also, traditionally rather disappointing for the Sultanate.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 25 2020 19:41 utc | 22

Thierry Meyssan has a piece on the background dis-information, propaganda war that "enlisted" journalists from the start of the Syrian civil war.

https://www.voltairenet.org/article209288.html

This is how 400,000 Syrians got killed and 7 million were driven in panic out of their country.

Luckily, General Soleimani and the Russian Intel services convinced Putin it was possible to save Syria for the Syrians. And the world was blessed by the heroics of Russian military, Hezbollah, and the sacrifices of Syrian families to keep sending their sons and fathers to fight AQ, ISIS, Israel, Turkey, Qatar and 150,000 head choppers disguised as "moderate rebels" and "democratic forces".

There still are 30,000-50,000 of the worse al Nusra and Uyghurs, and some numbers of Turks to kill.

As there was in Chechnya when Putin turned the war over to Kadyrov, this is not going to stop until the terrorists are utterly destroyed. That's how Putin conducts Russian warfare.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Feb 25 2020 19:41 utc | 23

BTW, about 10 villages in Zawiya mountains/hills came under SAA control yesterday, and about 7 today. In a day or two SAA will run out of villages in lower hills to conquer, we will see if there will be another cauldron.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 25 2020 19:43 utc | 24

Russian and Iranian-backed Assad militants

Turkish propaganda is simply ridiculous.

Assad is the official and internationally recognized government of Syria, he's not backed by Russia and Iran, Syria itself is supported by those two countries. "His" soldiers are also not "militiants" - they are the Army of Syria itself.

Posted by: vk | Feb 25 2020 19:45 utc | 25

Turkey's billions of dollars tourist season may collapse thanks to the Coronavirus. The already ailing Turkish lira will get another beating and foreign currency reserves will decrease even more.
2020 may become the nightmare year for Erdogan, will he be taken out by a sudden illness, or we will have to wait for 2023?

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-tourism/coronavirus-spreading-west-may-threaten-turkeys-key-tourism-industry

Posted by: Virgile | Feb 25 2020 20:05 utc | 26

Veritas X @21--

I seem to recall your comment from those days. Canthama's used it often. IMO, there's no other logical way to deal with Erdogan's behavior. That Putin and Lavrov don't seem overly worried has me mostly convinced. Why not just out lie the Empire of Lies led by the biggest liars on the planet. Crying wolf just doesn't make the cut anymore!

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 25 2020 20:05 utc | 27

Re: vk | Feb 25 2020 19:45 utc

It is a matter of terminology. For uniformity, we could write historical analysis of USA supported Vietnamese militants etc. If I recall there were "regular" units" and "militia" units recruited from smaller ethnic groups, so the analogy with forces supported by Russian Federation is pretty broad.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 25 2020 20:11 utc | 28

Just an idea: Is Erdogan pushing his Jihadists into the war zone so that SAA and Russia can destroy them, so they dont come back to Turkey or what ever they would go instead? Win-Win-Situation for all? Because Erdogan is not stupid. He knows that he has no chance in Idlib. He is getting rid of them in this way.

Posted by: SI | Feb 25 2020 20:15 utc | 29

Thank b for this excellent news update.

Poor baby Erdo; he fessed up but, losing on two fronts, continues with his tantrums and is sending in more equipment:

Turkey Reportedly Repositions Tanks Closer to Syrian Border, Plans to Redeploy Them to Idlib

Ankara reported sustaining casualties in Idlib blaming them on alleged fire from the positions of the Syrian army, which repelled several attacks by local militants in recent weeks.

Turkish Demirören News Agency has reported that tanks have been redeployed from across Turkey towards the Hatay province located near the country's border with Syria. The tanks will reportedly later be transferred to the Turkish monitoring outposts in Syrian Idlib province, which, as Ankara claims, came under fire from the Syrian military in recent weeks.

Turkey claims that it lost several service members in similar attacks over the past weeks and boasted killing dozens of Syrian soldiers and destroying military equipment when it returned fire. Ankara accused Damascus and Moscow of violating Sochi agreements designed to create a demilitarised zone in Idlib by conducting attacks on its territory.[.]

Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 25 2020 20:17 utc | 30

Sooo, anyone got a guess at what the U$A/NATO/empire has promised Erdogon for his continued
encroachments and adventures in Syria? Or, is he just after more territory?

Posted by: ben | Feb 25 2020 20:22 utc | 31

@ Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 25 2020 20:11 utc | 27

In the Vietnam War the use of the term is precise, because North Vietnam had both a regular army and a militia.

In Syria, the use of the term to designate the forces under Bashar al-Assad is absurd. Syria is a UN recognized nation-State, of which Assad is the officially recognized head of State. As such, he's the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces, called nowadays the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Some soldiers of the SAA may or may not be followers of Assad (therefore "militants of Assad"), but then that is also true for every armed forces of every nation: some US soldiers, for example, may or may not be trumpists -- it doesn't change the fact that he/she will fight in the name of the USA as a whole, under the US Army.

Tha campaign on the M4 and the M5 is being made by the SAA, not by the followers of Assad. This is an official Syrian campaign to regain its lost territory - territory which is offcially Syrian, thus an integral part of the nation-State of Syria. Territory is one of the three ingredients that makes up a modern nation-State, together with a central government (State, including its armed forces) and its people (population). The war, therefore, is being waged in the name of Syria, not in the name of Assad.

Posted by: vk | Feb 25 2020 20:29 utc | 32

The U.S. has made clear that it will not support Erdogan's Syria adventure except by words. This was evident last week when the spokesperson of the U.S. anti-ISIS campaign said that Idleb governorate is a "magnet" for terrorist groups who are a "nuisance, a menace and a threat" to the hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria.

I fear the US position is far from clear, those were statements by CENTCOM spokesperson, clearly in contradiction with actions and statements by EUCOM....Thte theater of always...fake news...and all that...

https://www.voltairenet.org/article209223.html

https://www.voltairenet.org/article209205.html

Posted by: H.Schmatz | Feb 25 2020 20:37 utc | 33

@12 Paul It looks like Russia will have to destroy Turkish artillery positions that seem to be hammering the saa forces, if it is serious about stopping Turkey's push. So Russia helped the SAA retake the M5, a buffer zone for the M5, and the areas West of Aleppo. Now they are gaining land South of the M4 in an effort to retake the M4. Turkey has launched a counterattack that stalled out on the buffer zone West of Saraqib. From this you have come to the conclusion that Russia isn't serious about helping the SAA?

Posted by: goldhoarder | Feb 25 2020 20:42 utc | 34

@ Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 25 2020 20:17 utc | 29

More turkish cannon fodder, more and more expensive every time

Posted by: DFC | Feb 25 2020 20:55 utc | 35

once SAA retake Jisr al Shugour then the war really is over.

Posted by: aniteleya | Feb 25 2020 21:03 utc | 36

@ Abe | Feb 25 2020 18:58 utc | 17

I have not said that the Stingers were the main factor that drived out the russians from Afghanistan, of course not, but they lost many aircraft due to them, and they attack helicopters had to change their tactics, making them less effective than before (high altitude or/and hig speed, flaring all the time maneuvering quickly and always under threat).
The same is for any air force in the world, supply the Taliban with some thousands modern russian MANPAD and you will see what happens with the yanks there.

Have you notice that after the shot-down of a USAF big plane the truce and peace conversations between the Taliban an USA seems to be much more easy?

Posted by: DFC | Feb 25 2020 21:16 utc | 37

vk

In offensives, SAA numbers are built up by pulling in militia groups. The militias or NDF are part of Syrian military but do not get stationed away from their home towns or regions, only being called in for an offensive after which they return home.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defence_Forces

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 25 2020 21:17 utc | 38

I'd be interested to know how much of the "Turkish" artillery in Syria is being operated by regular soldiers of the TSK and how much is being operated by the re-badged head choppers from Afrin/Northern Syria. I'd also be interested to now what equipment they have been supplied with. Is it clapped-out WW2 American kit such as M101 105mm/M114 155mm/M115 203mm howitzers and Chinese Type 63 MRL or is it more modern self-propelled artillery? If the answer to both is the former, then the fighting around Nayard is intended to clear up Erdogan's problems with the 10,000 - 30,000 fighters remaining in Idlib, otherwise Erdogan is an idiot.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Feb 25 2020 21:45 utc | 39

Erdogan will accept the 16 km Idlib buffer zone and separation between it and Afrin. He will make a lot of noise, but Turkey is breaking international law and has no security excuses since their own proxies are the force being cleared out (not Kurds). Erdoganʻs rants wonʻt make a difference and the war will move to itʻs finale once Jisr al Shugour, Idlib town and the border crossing near Aleppo are taken. You can then give Turkey another chance at dealing with the refugee and foreign jihadist problem in the buffer zone through the Astana format. They failed miserably last time but might be more enthusiastic partners now that the last agreement is being imposed by force.

Will be interesting to see what happens to the Turkish proxies along the border north of Aleppo and west of the Euphrates. A large potential caldron could be formed north of Al-Bab, and the SAA could concentrate considerable forces to this area once Idbib is dealt with. The Kurds also have a big decision to make. They can either join the SAA and move the Turkish proxies out, or have the fate of these areas decided by Assad and Erdogan. Should be an obvious decision but the fools sat their and watched Afrin get over-run in 2018 instead of allowing the SAA to take positions and protect the borders.

Posted by: Sad Canuck | Feb 25 2020 21:54 utc | 40

BTW, all those M-113s are obsolete junk/death traps on the modern battlefield - they're useful against insurgencies but otherwise they're no more than mobile crematorium. Yet more evidence that Erdogan is cleaning up.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Feb 25 2020 21:55 utc | 41

@ Ghost Ship | Feb 25 2020 21:45 utc | 38

They were given outdated hardware with armor that cannot stand up to modern ATGM's. Still a nuisance to deal with carefully though.

I suspect that a lot of the Turkish soldiers sent to Idlib are not the cream of the TSK, but are recruited from extremist grey wolves groups nurtured by the MIT. These are both willing to sacrifice themselves (well not really that, but their belief in their supremacist Ottoman delusions is a powerful motivator to make them run into the kebab mill anyway) and could otherwise become internal liabilities for Erdogan himself. If this theory is true, that could also imply that Erdogan is not fully in control of these soldiers (and perhaps even their MIT handlers) which might further explain their openly displayed association with al qaida and ISIS types and even shooting at Russian planes with stingers.

PS at my earlier post #8 I wrote "Anadan" where I meant "Al Ghab". Sry.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 25 2020 22:07 utc | 42

@ DFC 34

Well said.

Translation provided by Eurotopics website from original TR article:

Turkey has already lost this war

The price of Ankara's military mission in Idlib is no longer in proportion to the actual situation, Artı Gerçek complains:


<<<“Turkish soldiers are fighting side by side with jihadist gangs on Syrian soil without knowing for what or for whom, pretty much just waiting to die. ... The [Turkish presidential] palace's demand that Russia withdraw its support from the Syrian forces has been rejected. The Kremlin will likely continue to support Damascus' operations. ... At this point it becomes increasingly relevant that Ankara is a warring party in Syria, and as such it is one of the losers. Because all the country's resources are being mobilised for combat, the economic crisis is worsening and young people are being targeted in a meaningless war.”>>>

Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 25 2020 22:07 utc | 43

On another note, surely not all of the militants in Idlib are going to surrender or die. Many will try to get away to safer grounds. Since Turkey is evidently not too keen on hosting most of them on their own territory, what are the odds that they will be pushed along into Afrin and from there on towards Manbij, to further rile up the Kurds? Assad may protest formally about that, but he might privately appreciate some extra pressure put on the SDF/YPG.

Where the headchoppers go after that will be another question for a later time.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 25 2020 22:16 utc | 44

Veritas X karlof1

I have often wondered if Erdogan is disposing of the jihadists in Idlib but the bug in that is a face saving way of pulling.
The political differences I was wondering about in the previous thread are I think to do with leadership of the Sunni muslim world. Upstart Saudi vs Turkey with its long Ottoman history. Saudi's supported muslim brotherhood until Morsi when they turned against it. Iran and Qatar backing Turkey against Saudi for leadership.

But back to Erdo, the problem for Erdo, as an aspiring leader of Sunni muslims, a face saving way of backing out of Syria. Sending the Turk military into idlib only compounded the problem of losing face.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 25 2020 22:22 utc | 45

I find it difficult to believe that the Turkish military is just handing over million dollar Leopard 2 battle tanks to jihadists who are not trained to drive and shoot the thing.

Posted by: Gregory | Feb 25 2020 22:23 utc | 46

DFC @36

Light anti air assets IMO have no significant effect in most conflicts, including what you mention about USA vs Taliban in Afghanistan.

USSR didn't change its strategic plans due to Stingers, regardless of aircraft lost.

USA isn't talking with Taliban now because of some plane shoot down, but because of huge strategic implications elsewhere (Iran's power on the rise, both ballistic and via proxy forces etc.)

Hell, USA was getting slaughtered in Vietnam (thousands of aircrafts lost) yet it didn't change a thing until situation on the ground decided the war.

Posted by: Abe | Feb 25 2020 22:36 utc | 47

Hey guys, are you sure that there really are jihadist extremists in Syria? The Telegraph's Josie Ensor didn't notice any after years of reporting about the war. No mention of them in her farewell report, only about how the Assad regime slaughters children.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2020/02/24/syria-world-collectively-lost-humanity/
And she saw the war up close - on her phone in Beirut!

Lebanon is the hardest of postings. You spend most of your time covering a place that is just a few hundred miles away but largely impossible to access, and that creates a cognitive dissonance. You watch videos of dead and dying children, file your story in time for deadline and then meet your friends for late-night cocktails in one of Beirut's many bars.
(...)
In my first year in the post, journalists watched as Bashar al-Assad's forces besieged tens of thousands of civilians in Aleppo, Syria's second city. Pictures of children crushed under rubble, their skulls caved in, and WhatsApp messages from doctors trapped in the basements of bombed hospitals arrived to our phones in real time.

War is hell for these front-line reporters!

Posted by: Brendan | Feb 25 2020 22:40 utc | 48

Ever since Erdogan supplied the terrorists with manpads, the Syrian helicopters have been grounded.

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 25 2020 22:41 utc | 49

A side note:

Everything the drone sees moving is getting hit after maximum 2-3 minutes by Russian war planes.

This is excellence in tactical bombing.

It seems the Russian Air Force didn't lost the know-how from the good ol' VVS.

Posted by: vk | Feb 25 2020 22:44 utc | 50

Abe @46

Times have changed a lot from Vietnam days, and in Vietnam the MIC learned how important is to have low casualties in a war, and that is the reason the air power is so fundamental/critical for an advanced country fighting a COIN campaign, and if the ruslies started to loss docens or aircraft in Syria, the public opinion un Russia will change dramatically.

Yes, if the Taliban had some thousands modern MANPAD before and the US helicos started to be shot-down like flies (as in Vietnam), in thoses times, the US will be out of Aghanistan long time ago. The air campaign affects a lot of the ground campaign when your population does not accept big losses

Posted by: DFC | Feb 25 2020 22:44 utc | 51

"The Russian airforce would pulverize the Turkish forces before they would reach the front lines."

Well, if Turkey intends to fully invade the province, presumably they will have their own air cover. What is the relative state of the Turkish Air Force vs the available Russian and Syrian air assets? If Russia and Syria have to expend their air assets fighting Turkish jets, this prevents the ability for those assets to attack Turkish ground forces.

Of course, Russia could easily escalate the situation beyond Turkey's ability to respond, by using Russia's stand-off weapons capability from its Med fleet and even its assets inside Russia. The problem with this is that then Turkey can run to NATO. Of course, it's likely NATO per se would tell him to pound sand since they wouldn't be interested in starting WWIII over a Syrian governate.

That is why his threats are ultimately empty. The problem is the US and the neocons. With everything hoovering around "what would Trump do?" - if NATO punts the issue to the US - does not make me enthusiastic about the result. The fact that the US *right now* isn't doing anything to encourage Erdogan is not necessarily a reliable predictor of what might happen if the situation escalates to a major military confrontation between Russia and Turkey in Syria or inside Turkey itself.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Feb 25 2020 22:58 utc | 52

Richard Steven Hack

After the Turks shot down the Russian plane a few years back, Russia kept SU-35 air superiority fighters in the air to cover the ground attack aircraft. I would guess Syria has BUK systems along the frontline and quite likely Syria has the likes of refurbished long range S-200 at airbases it has retaken. Then there is the three S-300 mobile systems located somewhere.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 25 2020 23:08 utc | 53

SI| Feb 25 2020 20:15 utc | 28
“Just an idea: Is Erdogan pushing his Jihadists into the war zone so that SAA and Russia can destroy them, so they dont come back to Turkey or what ever they would go instead? Win-Win-Situation for all? Because Erdogan is not stupid. He knows that he has no chance in Idlib. He is getting rid of them in this way.”

You are not alone with your thoughts - and one important point more,
… “the Muslim Brotherhood, that has a history of exacting hardship on leaders and ex-members who have betrayed them.”

Good to read: Chess Grand Master, Written by Sylvain LAFOREST on 25/02/2020 Oriental Review

… Syria is lucky to have the best politician in human history by its side.
As I’m writing this on February 23rd 2020, the Syrian army, backed by an intense Russian air support, is closing in on the Idlib governorate where the Turkish army is stuck with a horde of fake terrorist/real proxy groups that bare a hundred poetic names like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the al-Nusra National Liberation Front, Hurras al-Din and the Chinese Uighur-stuffed Turkistan Islamic Party. All of the above were recruited around the world by the Muslim Brotherhood at the request of NATO, as the CIA was launching its Arab Spring operation in 2011. It isn’t a secret to anyone that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is a former pupil of the Turkish Islamic Necmettin Erbakan whom had been trained directly by Sheikh Hassan al-Banna, the original founder of …

Posted by: Dilara | Feb 25 2020 23:15 utc | 54

@52 3 battalions actually which is 24 launchers (+support vehicles): 96 missiles ready for F-16s..

Posted by: Lozion | Feb 25 2020 23:15 utc | 55

[Erdogan] will not reach any new agreement unless he commits to the points Russia proposed

I think it's politically and personally impossible for Islamist Erdogan to make a deal with Russia that trades Idlib.

=
The U.S. has made clear that it will not support Erdogan's Syria adventure except by words...

Not so clear to me.

USA knows that once Idlib is liberated, SAA will seek to liberate the northeast (where the oil is).

In reference to Idlib, USA has said they would support their "NATO ally". And it's likely that USA doesn't want to appear as though they are pushing Erdogan to war. But that wouldn't stop them from giving assurances secretly.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 25 2020 23:23 utc | 56

Lozion

I think system and battalion are the same thing. Each system or battalion having radar units, command center unit, launchers and support vehicles ect.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 25 2020 23:27 utc | 57

Wow! Terrorists are getting rolled up rapidly in Southern Idlib! The big appendage shown in this map will soon be cut off and the front lines greatly shortened, perhaps as early as tomorrow morning as the rats are running away as fast as they can.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 25 2020 23:33 utc | 58

karlof1
SAA is rolling across the open farmland of a plateau at the moment. Country gets rougher as they move north toward M4. With luck, the jihadis will have taken that much of a beating they will not be able to set up new defence line. They were able to do that in the north after they pulled out of the north west Aleppo cauldron.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 25 2020 23:50 utc | 59

The oil fields are next.. that when I expect to see Russia and USA clash.. What will happen when Russian weapons smash oil and gas owned, petrodollar controlled, USA in Syrian owned oil fields?

Posted by: snake | Feb 26 2020 0:01 utc | 60

snake
I doubt US and Russia will clash in eastern Syria. Iraq I think is key to getting US out of Syria. Another angle is the Kurds. Sooner or later it may dawn on the majority that it is Syria and Russia protecting them from Turkey contrasted to US priority of stealing the oil. Kurds will see no revenue from the oil as apparently Trump has handed them a bill for services rendered.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 26 2020 0:13 utc | 61


Planes and drones don't care about mountains.

Presumably they make some difference. A drone can only see one side of a mountain at a time, and a plane can only bomb the side of the mountain it is approaching, not the other side. I know guided missiles can "go around corners" but they cost a lot more.

But sure it is not going to halt the Syrian advance.

Posted by: Michael Droy | Feb 26 2020 0:25 utc | 62

karlof1 #11
Veritas X- #21

That's how I see it too - the meat grinder to rob the UKUSA of their warriors and send would be warriors a message.
But I would never turn my back on Erdy. I trust that not one grey wolf makes it back home.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 26 2020 1:17 utc | 63

Ghost Ship #38

It takes some skill to accurately target a howitzer or any large calibre cannon. That can be supplemented with a trajectory calculator but I have not seen one in any video of jihadis cannon crew. Essentially they are just throwing shells toward their targets with seemingly little care for re-sighting after each shot.

These unfortunate murderous humans have been given a big flag to show their position. Ditto the lads in the sardine cans called tanks and armoured personnel carriers. All the more efficient use of the other sides heavy ammunition.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 26 2020 1:31 utc | 64

@Brendan #47

That part about her having to meet her friends for late-night cocktails in one of Beirut’s bars just crushed me—as it did her loyal followers. Imagine what this brave woman had to go through: Moscow Mule (Russian Air Force’s Tu-154M), Corpse Reviver (White Helmets’ stage director), White Russian (the puppeteer behind the European far-right, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin himself)… The Butcher of Damascus, that bloodthirsty ophthalmologist, will pay for it! (Actually, no, it will be the British taxpayer.)

Posted by: S | Feb 26 2020 1:44 utc | 65

My understanding of the grey wolves is they were a cold war CIA creation. Involved with gladio and so forth.
Looked up the wikipedia entry and ideology listed there was interesting. To the letter what Erdogan has been doing.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Wolves_(organization)#Ideology

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 26 2020 1:49 utc | 66

Largely due to the fault of the Turkish side (intentional actions, or stupidity and incompetence?), the situation was significantly aggravated, creating many risks in various directions - the beginning of the Syrian-Turkish war, direct military clash between Turkey and Russia, deterioration of economic relations with Russia, weakening or even the destruction of negotiation formats (Astana format, trilateral Russia-Turkey-Iran summits, etc), "information degradation" of relations (in the Turkish media Russia is already being muddy, the Russian ambassador is getting life threats(!), etc).

In this situation, the worst option seems to be some kind of compromise that the Russian leadership can make. This could be about another “freezing” of military operations (for example, a maratorium on the use of aviation - as it was before the liberation of Aleppo), or about giving Turkey another term “to resolve the situation in Idlib”, or about expanding (in favor of Turkey) of the above four points of the Russian proposal. In any case, this will be another protraction and delaying of the Idlib-problem.

In addition, the situation is likely to develop according to a tough scenario - Erdogan may well go all-in and begin a major military operation against the Syrian army. It is unlikely that this will be a long-term war, but a local clash is quite possible (in reality it already exists, but so far "unofficially").

After all, why not play with your muscles and earn extra points in view of the possible four-way negotiations? At the moment (mean, this may change), the Kremlin has only rejected the possibility of a bilateral meeting with Erdogan. A meeting including Germany and France is likely to take place (at least assuming that Russia usually agrees to negotiations, even if the prospects are foggy).

Posted by: alaff | Feb 26 2020 1:51 utc | 67

karlof1 #57

Wow! Terrorists are getting rolled up rapidly in Southern Idlib! The big appendage shown in this map will soon be cut off and the front lines greatly shortened, perhaps as early as tomorrow morning as the rats are running away as fast as they can.


Peter AU1 #60

I doubt US and Russia will clash in eastern Syria. Iraq I think is key to getting US out of Syria. Another angle is the Kurds. Sooner or later it may dawn on the majority that it is Syria and Russia protecting them from Turkey contrasted to US priority of stealing the oil. Kurds will see no revenue from the oil as apparently Trump has handed them a bill for services rendered.

I am thinking that the roll up will continue from the south and the western roads to Turkey will be taken leaving the stream of jihadis and their families ('refugees') only a northern exit from where they will be pushed east into Kurdish/USA occupied region. That will create mayhem and pressure on the USA to piss off quick. I expect though that the M5 corridor to Turkey will sort of open as part of a 'gentleman's agreement' with Syria. But I doubt it will have a lot of traffic.

Time will tell but I would think that the Turks and Syria will not want a refugee stream into south west Turkey.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 26 2020 2:02 utc | 68

M-5 is open, to even public traffic. This was announced on Syrian Arab News Agency two days ago (quick work, by the way, and well done). Also announced was work on significant railway (commercial/public rail, I believe), through Homs/Aleppo (could be longer, not sure), scheduled reopening one month or two. Again, great news.

Posted by: Joshua | Feb 26 2020 2:20 utc | 69

Lines are holding, with clashes. Turk/proxy lines are collapsing under pressure in all instances (again, great news). My humble opinion is that all gains will be solidified. If a truce is reached, it will reflect this fact. Otherwise, the empire will have to fart in the wind a bit longer, then either accept truce or make peace.

Posted by: Joshua | Feb 26 2020 2:24 utc | 70

I expect the M5 Highway will make it possible to rapidly redeploy the 25th Division from one axis to another, making defeat of the takfiri mercs a guaranteed proposition.

Posted by: David Lemire | Feb 26 2020 2:37 utc | 71

A simple question: if all these millions/billions of civilians are "streaming towards the border" to "escape Assad", how are they doing it? Along the roads? Then how come the Ottomans are sending their jihadis and war criminals along with armour into Syria down those same roads? Do they teleport over those trillions of fleeing civilians, or something?

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Feb 26 2020 2:57 utc | 72

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 25 2020 18:18 utc | 11

"MO, both are indoctrinated to the point where they're blind to seeing how they're being manipulated and wasted by Erdogan."

Some are suggesting a larger number of puppeteers!

See.

"Chess Grand Master" on the "oriental review org" site.

Posted by: OhOh | Feb 26 2020 3:10 utc | 73

Posted by: Dilara | Feb 25 2020 23:15 utc | 53

Apologies, I missed your post.

Posted by: OhOh | Feb 26 2020 3:28 utc | 74

A simple question: if all these millions/billions of civilians are "streaming towards the border" to "escape Assad", how are they doing it? Along the roads? Then how come the Ottomans are sending their jihadis and war criminals along with armour into Syria down those same roads? Do they teleport over those trillions of fleeing civilians, or something?

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Feb 26 2020 2:57 utc | 71

The photos were showing many vehicles full of bedding and other necessities, perhaps the refugees walk along the motorized columns. Idlib is not that large, I guess two days walk from the south end to refugee camps near Bab-al-Hawa crossing (Reyhanli of Turkish side). While relatively rapid, the Syrian operation took more than a month, progressing several kilometers per day. Massive Turkish columns with tanks, other vehicles and supplies were sent only when the refugees completed their movement.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 26 2020 4:23 utc | 75

@ 74 piotr.. how many of the refugees would have liked to return to the other part of syria? were they given a chance, or did the moderate headchoppers in idlib even give them this option? my own subjective answer is - no, they weren't given this option... thus the refugees can only go in one direction - out of syria and into turkey, so that the international community responsible for this refugee crisis can cry some crocodile tears over it all and try to get the rest of the planet to weep for what the west has created..

Posted by: james | Feb 26 2020 4:39 utc | 76

Piotr Berman @ 74:

One possible answer to your (I presume) rhetorical question is that the refugees are the jihadis.

Brendan @ 47, S @ 64:

I am crushed too! Cue sad violin ...

Posted by: Jen | Feb 26 2020 5:15 utc | 77

Sorry Piotr @ 74, I should have replied to Biswapriya @ 71.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 26 2020 5:16 utc | 78

In the Democratic Debate tonight, I thought it strange that a "twitter" question was selected that asked candidates about the "humanitarian catastrophe" in Idlib.

No question about the Coronavirus, though.

I think the virus is much more of a concern for most Americans (CDC just said that Americans should prepare for virus spreading in USA) so the question seemed planted to raise the topic of Idlib.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 26 2020 5:47 utc | 79

Nato proxies seem to be claiming that they've now cut the M5.

Posted by: paul | Feb 26 2020 7:10 utc | 80

paul #79

Nato proxies seem to be claiming that they've now cut the M5.

Link ?

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 26 2020 7:57 utc | 81

This is the Syria that the SAA is fighting to preserve .. conversely what Uncle Sam and friends (the latest being Turkey) have been endeavoring to destroy these past 9 years. Syria will NOT be stopped now. btw well used artillery combined with excellent Air defense and EW capabilities imo, are just as good as an airforce as this shows

Posted by: Maximus | Feb 26 2020 8:26 utc | 82

"Erdogan's threat to attack with his whole army should Syria not withdraw to the previous lines by March 1 is obviously empty. The Russian airforce would pulverize the Turkish forces before they would reach the front lines.

Erdogan is in a challenging position. If he orders his army to attack in full force he will have to justify the likely very high losses in an unwinnable war. If he retreats from his harsh rhetoric and accepts the Russian points those nationalists who still support him will have further doubts about his leadership."


How true is this ? quite a while back, saker, who is military analyst said something to the effect, that Russia was doing the syria operation on the cheap, that the Turkish army was very large, and that the limited Russian forces in syria would not be able to stop a full turkish invasion ? so it was important to Russia, to keep Turkeys involvement limited ?

It may be well for Russia and Syria to let Turkey have its rhetorical propaganda victories to appease Turkish nationalism, while they go ahead with essential strategic gains ? dont rub Erdogans nose in the dirt ?

Posted by: anon | Feb 26 2020 8:56 utc | 83

anon | Feb 26 2020 8:56 utc | 82

It is an easy sport for inhabitants in Turkey to compare the messages of the official media with informations gained by other sources about the daily status in Syria. Conclusions are made then. But they cannot be discussed in the public. So this process works slowly. The support of the Turkish nationalistic "stream" is essential for Erdogan. So bleeding out is a good method. He can say like I did everything to please you but now look to what we gained. His intrinsic motivation is for these Muslim Brotherhood friends.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 26 2020 9:28 utc | 84

Posted by: anon | Feb 26 2020 8:56 utc | 82

Yes, but that goes both ways. Erdogan has been able to play his games with other peoples lives. How long is he going to keep this up when turkish soldiers start dropping like flies in case of an invasion? It seems Russia and Syria are prepared to take on this gamble.

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 26 2020 11:00 utc | 85

@anon | Feb 26 2020 8:56 utc | 82

How true is this ? quite a while back, saker, who is military analyst said something to the effect, that Russia was doing the syria operation on the cheap, that the Turkish army was very large, and that the limited Russian forces in syria would not be able to stop a full turkish invasion ? so it was important to Russia, to keep Turkeys involvement limited ?

The key word here is full Turkish invasion. Right now Turkey is holding back its air force. Saker analysis was a full invasion scenario, where THK is trying to to shot down RuAF planes, even destroying the Lattakia air base RuAF is based on, effectively eliminating Russia's presence in the theater. Turkey's armed forces are probably capable of doing something like that, but at a high cost and a formal declaration of war against Russia as a result.

Posted by: Erlindur | Feb 26 2020 13:25 utc | 86

I speculate that Erdy is operating under duress from Uncle Sam. He has been trying to play both ends against the middle but the US is forcing him to pick one side only. He is now in a vise and so serfs and mercenaries must suffer. Putin knows this. He also knows that Erdy will eventually have to cut US strings but that will be long, slow, and painful.

Erdy asked for US air defense knowing full well that the answer would be no. This will be his excuse for eventual retreat as everyone everywhere understands that air superiority is critical for success. He has to stay in Idlib long enough to convince Uncle Sam that the Turks are making an honest effort. Otherwise, US will crash the Turks economy.

Pretty soon Uncle Sam will be too busy with epidemics and financial panics to bother much with Erdy. Likewise, the Venezuela destruction project has been largely abandoned, except for the murderous economic warfare, which doesn't take much conscious effort once it is set in motion.

If we really are witnessing the beginning of the next financial panic, then the Iran invasion may be called off. That is one reason to look forward to "Dow Jones Meets Davy Jones", coming soon to an economy near you.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 26 2020 13:39 utc | 87

Pompeo calls for ceasefire in Idlib ...

... Lavrov rejects it.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 26 2020 13:39 utc | 88

@Maximus #81

Russia doesn’t even need to bring its numerous MLRSs. They can use—and they do use—the simple and efficient 152-mm Msta-B towed howitzer with cheap and numerous ordinary artillery rounds (6.4–⁠24.7 km) and an occasional Krasnopol laser-guided projectile (3–⁠20 km). Russia has 150 Msta-Bs in service and 600 in storage.

Posted by: S | Feb 26 2020 13:42 utc | 89

SAA advance today is not larger than yesterday, about the same? Another line of villages. A photo of happy villagers too, dancing with soldiers.

The number of refugees and the "sheer human tragedy" is a big question mark. A minority of Syrians of unspecified size moved to Idlib from numerous enclaves, from those enclaves to Idlib. Now many ran toward Turkish border. The numbers given to the press are unlikely to be accurate. It is unclear why so many run away now. Two data points suggest that it was an organized movement, pro-actively removing civilians from the battle zones.

First data point: a conversation reported in NYT, a women from Haas, week-two before SAA offensive turned in that direction.
Second data point: photos shown on pro-government Twitter account, city of Ariha got emptied of people. Weeks before Ariha will be a target.

To literarily empty a city, it had to be decided by some authority, organized and coordinated. The precise reasons are not known, but it is clear that jihadists lost optimism, they make the last stand sending families away. But the entire city? Perhaps foreign aid that sustains the entire "rebel economy" moved. Photo pictures of IDP camps showed huge and orderly expansion.

The story is very sad, western part of it is a mix of propaganda, delusion and nihilistic malevolence.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 26 2020 13:43 utc | 90

Syrian (plus allies) side of refugee problem:

"You" brainwashed a few million people into a pseudo-traditional/distorted-religious ideology, they refuse to normally participate in society, are trained in weapons, explosives, traumatized, mentally unstable. The West became totally afraid of them. Nobody wants them. They may be given some area so that will not disturb others, but they should not prevent Syria from restoring normal life by blocking critical infrastructure that Syrian built over generations.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 26 2020 13:58 utc | 91

Cassad suggests that the Nairab battle is mainly for show, that Turkey and Russia have already agreed to the deal that has been reported on. This actually makes pretty good sense to me, because it could explain why swathes of territory have been surrendered to Syria while (seemingly) pitched battles have been going on elsewhere. Erdogan talks big and nasty, but there seems to be little response from the other side.

Posted by: paul | Feb 26 2020 13:59 utc | 92

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 26 2020 13:43 utc | 88

It is unclear why so many run away now.

To literarily empty a city, it had to be decided by some authority, organized and coordinated.

No. It depends where people get information from and how far fighters go to force civilians to remain in the battle zone.
Any thinking civilian will attempt not to remain in a battle zone. For that you need information - where to go and where the battle zone will be.

Worst place to be is between an advancing and a retreating army.

Syrian/Russian army will be interested in civilians leaving the battle zones, Turkey/Jihadi fighters will not. They have solved this before by offering Jihadis a way out to Idlib with their families so removing the fighters from the civilians (and creating a problem in Idlib). There is no way out for the fighters now but Turkey (and Libya). So Erdogan and Libyans have a huge problem plus the EU.

You need no "organization" to remove civilians from a place - threatening them is enough.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 26 2020 14:03 utc | 93

@Erlindur - I am no expert but are we that sure about the operational readiness of the Turkish air force? I recall comments about Erdogan jailing much of the Air Force officer corps after the failed coup attempt, which raises the question of how effective they might be in a true test.

Keep in mind also Russia likely has S-400's protecting Latakia.

Posted by: Chris | Feb 26 2020 14:03 utc | 94

re: Erlindur | Feb 26 2020 13:25 utc @ 85
"...Right now Turkey is holding back its air force...."

From what I've read/observed,

Posted by: Veritas X- | Feb 26 2020 14:05 utc | 95

If we really are witnessing the beginning of the next financial panic, then the Iran invasion may be called off. That is one reason to look forward to "Dow Jones Meets Davy Jones", coming soon to an economy near you.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 26 2020 13:39 utc | 86

Trump will be attacked as a bungler on foreign+military things, but a direct attack on Iran is bound to be follow by enough spectacular bad news that he would loose elections spectacularly.

Concerning Turkey upping the antes, Russia is more prepared. There would be huge economic losses from logistic dislocations etc. However, Turkey is positioned to loose as much as Russia or more, Putin had put Russia on pre-war economic regime (import substitution, diversification of trade routes, budget surplus), while Turkey is the opposite, deficit, import dependent, credit dependent.

Erdo is a megalomaniac, but he understands economy and political calculus.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 26 2020 14:10 utc | 96

Peter AU1 @65 The article you provide, state clearly that the grey wolves were a creation of a local military after 1960 and that CIA used it starting 1970. But you write that CIA creates Grey Wolves. Do you have an issue with truth ? Consciously distort something does not make your wish come true. It is simply despicable. Despite all the support I have for the YPG, I hates when they writes something like ' Nato turk army...' as if Europeans ever wanted Erdogan to bomb Kurds. The only thing it really tell us about the writer, is that you are not dealing with an honest person.

Posted by: murgen23 | Feb 26 2020 14:13 utc | 97

....damn, haven't mastered the html-tags yet...
Anyway, from what I've learned/read, the türkie air force is without(!) 3/4's of it's pilots, because of dismissals & arrests after the coup détat attempt a few years ago.
Plus, the usa is not allowing proper maintenance of the available jets.
So.
3/4's are essentially 'out-of-commission'.
No...*mojo* for the tükies tryin' to fly.
Gooble-Gooble.
"Dead-Ducks" in more ways than 1.
X-

Posted by: Veritas X- | Feb 26 2020 14:13 utc | 98

@Chris | Feb 26 2020 14:03 utc | 92

Well, Erdo did send to jail some of his best pilots but such an attack could succeed. I suggest digging out that excellent Saker analysis if you want a more in depth view (sorry I can't find it right now). Turkey can probably eliminate RuAF in Syria but the problem is that doing so, Erdo will find himself in full war with Russia. The counter attack will come from there and it will hurt a lot. I don't think he is that crazy.

Posted by: Erlindur | Feb 26 2020 14:16 utc | 99

re Veritas X- | Feb 26 2020 14:13 utc

It seems that in few days Erdogan will unleash his most powerful weapon: he will be really, really sad.

But Putin can be a heartless bastard...

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 26 2020 14:20 utc | 100

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