Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 01, 2020

Syria - A Short Note on Recent Developments

The current situation in Syria is confusing.

The Russian airforce and air defense went quiet after the bombing of the Turkish infantry battalion. Putin presumably wants a deal over Idleb but neither Damascus nor Ankara are willing to agree to whatever he proposed. Unfortunately there has been no official comment on the situation from Moscow or Damascus. All 'experts' are currently just guessing.

Turkey used the Russian air defense pause to send armed drones behind the Syrian lines. These caused damage though less than Turkey claimed.

Some Hizbullah and Iranian troops were hit and Turkey has received warnings from Iran and Lebanon that this will have consequences for the Turkish soldiers in Idleb.

Today Syria's air defense was again activated and shot down 6 Turkish drones. The Jihadis thought it was a Syrian plane and celebrated.

Turkey responded by shooting down a Syrian jet over Idleb. The missile was fired from Turkey.

Another drone was shot down near the Russian air base in Latakia.

The Syrian army is advancing in Saraqib.

Syria's Foreign Minister met his Libyan colleague from the Libyan National Accord under General Haftar. They criticized the "Turkish aggression" against both countries and signed some agreements.

Yesterday Sputnik published a piece on Hatay:

The ‘Stolen Province’: Why Turkey Was Given A Corner Of Syria By France 80 Years Ago

Today Turkey arrested the Sputnik bureau chief in Istanbul.

Posted by b on March 1, 2020 at 14:04 UTC | Permalink

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All this mess could have been avoided, would have Putin listend to his military staff and the stavka in general, and had not made deals with Erdogan.
The economic gains for Russia (south stream) are only a leverage for Erdogan, and the dream to push Turkey out of NATo was always a pipe dream.
IMO Putins biggest foreign policy mistake in all of his time in office.
And one that will threaten to bring down all achievements in the last year for Russias standing in the middle east, and ofc for the national security of Russia.

With a person like Erdogan, you either dominate him, or he does you. And now, it all comes tumbling down.
Now Erdogan calls Putins bluff. Putin will not risk as much as Erdogan, which leaves Erdo in the strong position, as he has no qualms to sacrifice the lives of his soldiers or even risk a full blown war.
Either Russia now goes all in, and shoots down any drone, and any plane that is attacking SAA in Idlib, and goes on the offensive and attacks Turks without qualms, or this is going to end badly.
Pompeo, Bibi etc now, after years, see a chance to win the war again, and they are already pushing to exploit this.

This is majorly fuckup up.

Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr. | Mar 1 2020 14:36 utc | 1

Thanks *b*.
Yeah, it's getting pretty bad.
I feel soo sorry for the Syrian People, their soldiers, and those that are true allies.

Posted by: Veritas X- | Mar 1 2020 14:46 utc | 2

I don't see turkey backing down. The treacherous nature of messiah ideologies (in this case of the Ottoman strain) make it almost impossible for Erdo-Sultan to respect his allies, let alone overcome his delusions of empire.

I pray for things to deescalate on Syria and I certainly wish that horrible war (at the very least) gets a much deserved "break", but things are getting ugly really quickly. And with Washington and tel aviv all excited over the prospect of more War in Syria it really is looking like the war will rage on.

Posted by: Erdo lost his mind | Mar 1 2020 14:46 utc | 3

You don’t do “deals” with killers. A love of Israel will always be a weakness, an undoing of a life

Posted by: Sadness | Mar 1 2020 14:49 utc | 4

This takes me back to Ukraine when the "anti-terrorist operation" was going on, all the whining back and forth about Putin and what he should do.

The behavior of the Russians IS very noticeable. Erdogan too. The question "who is nuts here?" keeps coming to mind. I still think something is up. Erdogan feels cornered, or that's what he says. Let's see where we are in a week before drawing conclusions. It's been a bumpy ride since New Years.

Posted by: Bemildred | Mar 1 2020 14:52 utc | 5

Even now there are foreign troops and intelligence agents on the ground working to escalate this situation.
Russia does not want or need a war with Turkey so I guess Putin will wait until the situation in Turkey changes. The economy is one area ... It’s going to be hit hard by a strengthening dollar and the coming sovereign debt crisis Mk 2. Then Russia will hold all the cards.

Posted by: Jl | Mar 1 2020 15:02 utc | 6

Guys, lets be real honest here. All these arm chair quarterbacks saying how weak Putin is here dont have a clue. As a combat Vet I'm looking at this realistically. Even if Russia wanted to save Assad's ass how can he? Like it or not the Russian presence in Syria is untenable against a full scale Turk invasion. As much as I hate the Turks, they would overrun Latakia and Tartus in hours if they wanted to. You really think a handful of Russian jets & 2 frigates in the Med can stop that? How is Russia even going to resupply itself in Syria if the Turks close its airspace and the Bosporus? The only way Russia would have any chance would be full scale war against Turkey and that would evoke Article 5. You dumb asses want to start WW3 over this? Stop letting your emotions do the thinking and think about this logically. I hate this as much as anyone here, but there really isn't much Russia can do militarily. On the other hand, there is plenty Russia, China & Iran can do politically & financially and the wanna be Sultans days are numbered. But on the other hand, does Russia really want a CIA stooge taking the Sultans place? Russia has some tough decisions to make and I do think Putin is up to teh task. Patience my boys!

Posted by: BigShawn | Mar 1 2020 15:03 utc | 7

I wonder if all of these posters saying Putin should have done this or that, has even a clue as to the games being played on the world stage or who should be attacked and who shouldn't.

Heard these same old lines when the Ukraine was on fire, that Putin should have gone in and bombed then back to the stone age because that's what the west would have done,I reall think that these posters would be better off staying out of the picture when they don't have a clue as to what's really going on.Just saying.!!!

Posted by: bluedogg | Mar 1 2020 15:06 utc | 8

Last week's statements by Lavrov that Turkey doesn't uphold their side of the Sochi deal should imply a Russian response. This response most likely won't be of a military nature, which would have much more downside risk than upside for Russia, but of a diplomatic nature: a renegotiation of the deal to clarify each side's responsibilities.

Turkey obviously would like to control Idlib and the northern parts of Aleppo, Raqqa and Al-Hasakah provinces indefinitely, if not outright annex them. Ultimately, Turkey will do its best to expel Russians from Syria and consolidate its influence throughout the region. That's why Turkey's goals are incompatible with those of Russia.

Posted by: s | Mar 1 2020 15:10 utc | 9

Thanks for the update b


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 1 2020 15:12 utc | 10

BigShawn is totally right. Not only the Russians don't want and CANNOT handle a full scale escalation from turkey, they also don't want the sultan to fall back in the arms of the US. So they let their syrian friends be slaughtered and hope that the negotiations will reach a conclusion.

The incident were the russians killed at least 33 turkish soldiers was heavy enough and cannot be duplicated.

Posted by: waste | Mar 1 2020 15:17 utc | 11

@Veritas X Calm your titties man or woman. Yes some generals have been killed but those are real generals not the fake ones b intially posted before(now removed) which are not real and were used as a joke. Some NATO shill named Charles Lister claimed that Turks had destroyed a S-300 system and @leithfadel mocked the idiot by saying that those generals were also killed in the attack.

Posted by: Whoever | Mar 1 2020 15:32 utc | 12

Russia would need a much larger force on the ground to counter any large scale Turkish operation and have the willingness to use them. Putin has maintained the Syrians equipment needs, run some small scale counter insurgency operations, and a much larger air operation. They have relieved some MP units freeing them but not much else.

Without a larger Russian intervention the head choppers win this round and the Turks get their buffer zone. The last of the Christian in the area will have to leave, die or change religious affiliation. Just like the good old days.

This is the area where many Armenia Christians fled to after the slaughter at the end of the Ottoman empire. There may be an element of revenge against Syria as well. The Syrians played a large role in taking down the Ottomans with the aid of the West. They were promised a free nation and ended up being a colony of the West. After becoming a nation after WWII they chose Russia as an ally as they remembered the double crossing West is not to be trusted.

Posted by: dltravers | Mar 1 2020 15:32 utc | 13

Coming to a head

Anticipating the 'Assad must go!' Coalition strategy.

  1. To succeed in Idlib, Turkey needs to sideline Russia air support.
  2. Turkey has not (thus far) been able to intimidate Russia into ending its support for SAA in Idlib.
  3. We've all noted Turkey's propaganda push, which makes it appear that Turkey is being more successful against SAA than they are.
  4. One unusual propaganda item was Turkey's announcement that they hit a chemical plant south of Idlib.
  5. In the past, people have questioned wmd false flags, pointing out that it makes no sense for Assad to use wmds when he's winning.
  6. USA/Trump has made use of wmds a 'red line' via his TWO missile attacks on Syria (each based on ff).

Turkey's propaganda is meant to convey the impression that they are winning. They MAY TRY to claim that Assad conducted a chemical attack as a desperate move to prevent a Turk victory. This would then prompt USA/NATO to impose a 'no fly zone' over Idlib (or threaten to do so).



Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 1 2020 15:33 utc | 14

Erdogan is the pig in the oinkment in Syria.
If he disappears one day no-one will be able figure out who dunnit, a friend, an enemy or a bunch of Turks pissed off with his opague, self-serving bullshit and theft? Russia and SAA can then finish mopping up in Idleb and leave the dumbass Yankee oil-squatters looking stupider and dizzier than Foghorn Leghorn with a hangover.

My guess is that everyone who wants him out of the picture is waiting for someone else to do it, OR, talking to others presumed to have the same mindset to decide whether to draw straws or conduct a few coin-tosses. I think Erdo's days are numbered. My guess is fewer than 14 days.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 1 2020 15:35 utc | 15

Eventually it seems a Russian plane will be shot down, or something as serious. At that point Russia could start up the economic pressure. Issue an order that all Russian citizens are to leave Turkey, including all tourists, and those working on the nuclear power plant and the transfer of the S-400 system. They could again ban agricultural imports from Turkey. A much stronger resort would be to shut off the natural gas from the bluestream pipeline (and the new Turkstream pipeline for good measure). Short of an actual declaration of war, Russia would probably want to honor its commercial contracts, but they could take these actions. Russia could also start to play US-style games. Send huge arms shipments to the Syrian Army AND the Kurds, maybe through Iran (Iran has given some warnings to Turkey given their bombardment of Iranian forces in Syria) I don’t think they will do that in the near-term though.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Mar 1 2020 15:36 utc | 16

Erdogan, whose ass was saved by Putin, in a failed assassination attempt, show him his ingrate disposition. All rats, the diseased type need to be liquidated, as sewer rats are in a city. Calling on NATO, give me some Patriots, story telling the illegal incursion into a sovereign state, using liver eaters as shields, etc, shows his narcissistic nature. He will soon be shown the door, oh, and don't let it hit your bony ass on the way out dummy. O.K., back to the Covig-19 virus again now please?

Posted by: Taffyboy | Mar 1 2020 15:51 utc | 17

There are doubts concerning the shot down of 2 Syrian planes. Most comments refer to SANA as a source. However, there is no such report. A bit later, SANA even published a dementi No data also on the type of missiles that would have been used by Turkey do to so. AIM-7, AIM-120?

@BigShawn (11) full ack

Posted by: BG13 | Mar 1 2020 15:57 utc | 18

As of 15:10 UTC, the Sputnik Türkiye editor-in-chief has been released (machine translation). Earlier today, Turkish authorities have released the three Sputnik Türkiye journalists who were threatened yesterday at 21:00–21:30 local time at their apartments by nationalist thugs, then detained by police with no way to contact them.

Posted by: S | Mar 1 2020 15:57 utc | 19

Right now, Russian prerogative must be to not get drawn into the Turkey-Syria tussle. Moscow has important interests in both countries, and it can’t let Damascus’ impatience to overrule its own geopolitical imperatives.
Syria is obviously pressing its luck and risking total ruin by continuing its Idlib offensive. The only thing preventing it is Russian support. But the latter can’t be taken for granted if Assad wants to play the game of chicken of Istanbul.
As I already mentioned, Assad has only two viable options to regain all of Syria.
First, to rebuild what land he already controls, as well as completely overhaul, retrain and rearm his military so it doesn’t look like a ragtag band of freelancing amateurs, but can actually take on the Turkish military and induce real fear into its adversaries. That can take 20-30 years even in the best case. Or it might not work at all.
Second approach, and this one is pretty much guaranteed to succeed, the Damascus may threaten allowing Alawites in Tartus and Latakia a vote on seceding from Syria and becoming part of Russia, unless Syrian territorial integrity is promptly restored and respected in perpetuity afterwards. But even floating such an idea would ensure a visceral reaction in the West, with pressure on Turkey to vacate Syria going global.

Posted by: Venom | Mar 1 2020 16:25 utc | 20

Posted by: Venom | Mar 1 2020 16:25 utc | 20

Why would Russia absorb parts of Syria into the Russian Federation? They haven’t even done that with the Donbass, where it would make sense. They have the bases in Syria virtually in perpetuity. Why would they decrease their flexibility in the future? Assad would lose a lot of face, offering up part of Syria to Russia. I don’t think it would help him, and it certainly would not help Russia.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Mar 1 2020 16:41 utc | 21

I remember in 2016 hoping the coup would succeed. Turkey is fairly unique in that the military has a history of couping the government when it gets too nationalistic/Ottomanistic/non-secular, then afterwards actually returns power instead of ruling as a junta. Erdogan broke this cycle though in putting down the coup and hence we have this wannabe Sultan doing very stupid things.

Anyway I guess my point or question is: Did Erdogan purge enough of the military, post-coup, so that it's unlikely the military will "have enough" and either hard coup him, or "soft coup" by refusing orders? What sorts of generals are in charge? Those who are comfortable sending soldiers to death in Syria for no good military reasons? Even if those types are in charge, what's the tipping point for even them--1000 dead from a Russian strike? 10% of the armed forces' materiel? How close are they to rebelling?

Posted by: Corn Pipe | Mar 1 2020 17:02 utc | 22

So far, 3 Turkish drones destroyed today.

Posted by: nemo | Mar 1 2020 17:02 utc | 23

It looks like Iran is starting to lose patience with the Turks.

Posted by: farm ecologist | Mar 1 2020 17:03 utc | 24

The Russians have sent two Kalibr-loaded frigates (Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich) to Syria. My guess is they will be used to take out takfiri concentrations close to Turkish 'observation' posts once sufficient intelligence has been gathered (a Russian SigInt aircraft was flying over Idlib last week) if Erdogan doesn't comply with his agreements.

Regarding war with Russia, that probably won't happen (though Pompeo has been trying hard to force it). The Turkish economy is strongly dependent on trade and tourism with Russia. The Turkish forces, though substantial, have no real combat experience. They have followed the Zionist/NATO pattern of attacking weak opponents and civilians. It will also be easier for Russia to rain havoc on mainland Turkey than the other way round. It seems as though the narcissist Erdogan has been suckered by Pompeo down a path of confrontation with the expectation of full NATO support. That will not happen so Erdogan has been painted into a lose-lose corner. The Turkish opposition will be playing this weakness for all it is worth

Erdogan has been given a hint that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Sputnik published the article about Hatay, implying that Syria would have justification in reclaiming it. Lots of dead Turkish soldiers and the loss of Iskanderun etc would be Erdogan's deathbed.

Posted by: Yonatan | Mar 1 2020 17:05 utc | 25

thanks b.. and thanks big shawn... right on...

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 17:13 utc | 26

[email protected]

First of all, Russians are always happy to acquire real estate. The one on Mediterranean coast would be their dream coming true.

Second, if you don’t see the difference between voluntary secession and voluntary admission, both of which would be ratified by the donor country - a radical difference with the Donbas situation - then you are probably impervious to any rational argument.

And third, if temporarily “losing face” leads to Assad’ s regaining his whole country in the end, then what’s the harm? In the long run, he’ll be seen as a geopolitical genius who used western obsessions and insecurities to achieve his objective without firing a shot. If one has no requisite muscle to fight in the ring then maybe it’s time to try chess and poker.

Posted by: Venom | Mar 1 2020 17:15 utc | 27

Posted by: Corn Pipe | Mar 1 2020 17:02 utc | 22

Turkey is fairly unique in that the military has a history of couping the government when it gets too nationalistic

Unfortunately not true. They've never been against nationalism which is the other religion here. And the current Islamism has been the direct result of the USA backed 1983 coup. Basically the military have butchered the left.

Posted by: Acar Burak | Mar 1 2020 17:29 utc | 28

well the usa and turkey share that same fanaticism for nationalism too then... thanks acar.... erdogan seems to be playing it for all it is worth.. after having successfully shut down any media opposition, things seem to be going swimmingly for him...

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 17:36 utc | 29

@BigShawn: Erdogan IS a CIA stooge. Invasion by #Turkey in Idlib, attacks from #Israel on Golan and flights over #Lebanon, terrorist infiltration from #Jordan in Daraa, #USA & Kurdish Contra slaughters in Deir ezZor. It's an all-fronts assault on Syria from all of the malicious actors.

Posted by: David | Mar 1 2020 17:38 utc | 30

Also, I daresay Russia isn't seeking a deal this time over Idlib. Turkey's simply taking advantage of the fact it's a NATO member and that Russia has relatively limited firepower it can bring to the front. Putin is extraordinarily conciliatory and patient, but don't mistake this situation as evidence of a pre-agreed upon deal or beckoning towards one with new facts on the ground. Sure, Erdogan might want to leverage the new TurkStream pipeline and these new developments on the ground in the upcoming Astana conference -- but do you think Russia will /really/ let Turkey pressure the Syrian government into accepting whatever "deal" is hammered out at they conference, mostly proposed by Turkey I should add?

Posted by: David | Mar 1 2020 17:42 utc | 31

Today media showed pictures of people in Turkish uniforms cutting heads of captive Syrian soldiers. Plus the pictures of helpless refugees at the border. In addition there is this Corona Virus problem with steady advices to avoid any unnecessary voyage, especially by plane.

What would you do now if fate made you to be a Turkish tourism promoter? Any suggestions?

Posted by: Hausmeister | Mar 1 2020 17:55 utc | 32

some might want to consider pat langs question from today...
Would counter-battery attacks in Hatay trigger NATO Article Five?

my thinking is putin will take this option if it keeps up..

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 17:58 utc | 33

@ hausmeister.... i would look into overthrowing the loon presently running turkey...

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 17:59 utc | 34

"First of all, Russians are always happy to acquire real estate..."

Where do these idiots come from? Chimps who get their understanding of geopolitics from playing children's board games like Risk and don't realize that Russia has more real estate than they know what to do with? Must be another American engaging in manic projection...

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 1 2020 18:02 utc | 35

The counterattack from the SAA and Hezbollah is in full swing, 5 towns and half of Saraqip have been liberated

Posted by: Djon | Mar 1 2020 18:03 utc | 36

Acar 28,
1980 coup. But you are correct, it is a result of it. It launched Neoliberalism and a "green revolution" in Turkey through Turgut Ozal. Beneficiaries were Fetullah Gülen and, yes, eventually, Tayyip Erdoğan. The idea was to replace leftism in Turkey with ıslamism, which the US felt it could control and export to Central Asia. It was also felt it would undermine secular nationalism, not to be confused with the Ultraright nationalism of the MHP.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Mar 1 2020 18:11 utc | 37

Hausmeister | Mar 1 2020 17:55 utc | 32

"Today media showed pictures of people in Turkish uniforms cutting heads of captive Syrian soldiers."
How many of those "turkish soldiers" are really Turks? Going back a week there were pictures of Terrorists loading into Turkish APC's. How can anyone tell who is inside an APC from outside?
I suspect (not being an armchair general I can't affirm this) that many if not most of the "troops" now counter attacking the SAA are in reality headchoppers in uniforms.

Which puts another slant on the situation.
Erdogan is giving loud verbal support to his "troops" while the terrorist elements are now in the front line. ie Outside their line of fixed defenses. Why Erdogan gave them Manpads and backing of armed drones is anyones guess. Possibly he thought he could "claim" any victory with a lighter loss of real Turkish troops.

Why should the Russians not wait a little - while the SAA shoot down the drones - and continue their advances - and then eliminate the apparently Turkish-terrorists?. Note that by allowing the situation to "fester", the "observation" posts become extremely vulnerable. They are already looking like pimples on a babies bottom with no signs of supply lines.

Posted by: Stonebird | Mar 1 2020 18:33 utc | 38

turkey soldiers, or moderate headchoppers? that is the 64 cent question, lol... if i dress up in a turkish uniform does that make me turkish??

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 18:41 utc | 39

at least now there is no question turkey is in bed with those ever so sweet moderate headchoppers.. erdogan, leader of al qaeda with approval from the pompous one..

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 18:42 utc | 40

Turkish drone being martyred...

Posted by: nemo | Mar 1 2020 18:47 utc | 41

Just a note to say that the pilot of the downed Syrian jet made it safely to the Syrian-controlled area.

Posted by: IIvanych | Mar 1 2020 18:51 utc | 42

Some here are saying that Turkey could simply invade Syria, take what it wants, and there would be no one to stop them.

Not quite. Normally Iran and China would get involved, and easily stop them.

However, Iran and China are the hardest hit with the Covid-19 virus at the moment, so perhaps they cannot.

Net result: Some new virus mysteriously emerges in Turkey?

Cynical enough for you?

Posted by: blues | Mar 1 2020 19:01 utc | 43

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Mar 1 2020 18:11 utc | 37

Embarrassed, yes, 1980 coup; 1983 was a special date for myself! And I meant "the military has…"

I abhor all kinds of nationalism/patriotism etc. Hopeless place.

Posted by: Acar Burak | Mar 1 2020 19:02 utc | 44

As people have said elsewhere, Turkey has taken the dramatic step of becoming an overt state sponsor of terrorism through their cooperation with HTS. Of course Turkey and the rest of NATO have done this from behind the curtain the whole time, but fighting side by side with HTS is going to cause problems with "the narrative" and it shows desperation. There is no security threat to Turkey from Idlib (no kurds) and it is full of foreign fighters. Totally illegal and no amount of propaganda is going to cover it up. Tulsi Gabbard already blasted the entire adventure as Turkey befriending terrorists and looking to reestablish a caliphate with Erdogan at the head. First time that has been said so overtly state-side. Best strategy is probably retaking M5 and then chilling out for a bit while the economic/diplomatic pressure gets ramped up on Turkey.

Posted by: sad canuck | Mar 1 2020 19:03 utc | 45

Question? Has Russia denied Syria permission to use Syria's S300? Is that even possible?

Posted by: Joetv | Mar 1 2020 19:05 utc | 46

Putin can say to Erdogan: "Dont have Pacto about Lions and Hien..." Não existe Pactos entre Leões e Hienas...

Posted by: Jean Valjean | Mar 1 2020 19:06 utc | 47

There may be a fundamental fact here that gets ignored: all of these jihadists are dead enders. They all need to be killed, executed, if you like. They can't be rehabilitated in Syria and they would be a danger within Turkey's borders.

They are not secular fanatics such as in Imperial Japan or ex-Nazis - who got jobs and converted to ordinary allies. They are religious murderers. Erdogan and Assad and Putin have no choice but to grind them down and bury them in the scrub land of Syria.

Posted by: Eighthman | Mar 1 2020 19:27 utc | 48

@16 SteveK9

Or "Kurds" blow up the pipelines.

Posted by: TJ | Mar 1 2020 19:57 utc | 49

I tend to agree with BigShawn's analysis on this matter. However, as others have said, President Putin is a very patient man while being the ultimate strategist. If Turkey pushes him too far, I would imagine as another commenter posted, he will cancel the agreements with Turkey as he has pledged to maintain the sovereignty of the Assad government and Syria. Israel's only real asset it its Air Force. As one career sergeant wrote a while back, the IDF has devolved into rank amateurs, which has no experience in fighting capable opponents. The one time they did in 2006, Hezbollah, an irregular militia summarily defeated the IDF on the battlefield.

In the end, Turkey will lose this gambit. NATO countries are already saying they do not want anything to do with this situation. And it is highly unlikely that the US will get directly involved as Trump cannot afford to start another conflict in his last year of his current term (and hopefully his last term).

Posted by: Steve Naidamast | Mar 1 2020 20:00 utc | 50

@b thanks for the well needed update. More of these notes please because there is so much bollocks out there ... to be frank. ))))

@jackrabbit - Great comment. Imho if there were to be a chemical false flag now I fear it would herald a previoulsy agreed and fatal consequence, such as the US entering the war. Can't see that there would be much else to gain at this stage from such an false flag action.

What of the Syrian no-fly zone reported earlier today? If created it would certainly change the balance and is probably why the Turks are pushing Trump so hard for Patriots.

It has always been clear that at one point Russia would step back and Syria would have to protect itself. I am not suggesting that Putin has stepped back fully, but maybe Erdogan's plea to Putin "Let us go head to head with Syria" was seen as the perfect opportunity to assess Syrias needs and capabilites?
Putin has placed some game changing armoury in the Med so is not about to walk off and leave Syria to it. My thinking is that he is either waiting for the appropriate situation to arise to make use of the cruises and pull Turkey back into line, or he is ensuring that Syria and Erdogan don't get out of hand.
Let's recall that Putin has never shied from saying that a) Russia's interests lie with both Syria and Turkey b) That Turkey and Syria must sort out their differences.

@Veritas X - well said. It is so easy to forget those that are suffering so greatly, so needlessly. We should not forget them. In fact we should try to befriend them when we encounter them. To hear their stories, to understand their situation is humbling and to offer friendship and/ or support of whatever nature is the privelege of human solidarity.

Let's remember that Turkey is importing hay! That is the sunk level to which AKP mafia activity has brought the Turkish economy. Added to which the oh so nationalistic Turks have been experiencing a serious HNWI capital flight for years now (patriotism has a cheap price in Turkey!) . With the dollar now at 6.2-6.3. business is hit very hard; with the korona virus tourism will fail again - to be honest tourism has been failing for years as has the construction industry - do not underestimate the value of Syrian reconstruction to the Turks! They were spitting blood when Iran was awarded such large contracts and construction has always played a large part in Turkey's "safe zone" plans - top of the news once more along with the patriots. And, if Turkey wants to be the energy hub it aspires to being it can not afford to piss off bot suppliers (RF) and purchasers (EU), nor can it afford to do without Russian or Iranian resources for domestic use.
Suffice to say Turkey is in a damn difficult position with no one who actually gives a damn but with everyone ready to scapgoat it! Any support will come at a heavy price to Turkey, that is for sure,which might just be the straw that breaks the camels back.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Mar 1 2020 20:05 utc | 51

Acar, thanks for correcting my wrong views. I'll have to do some more studying on history!

Posted by: Corn Pipe | Mar 1 2020 20:06 utc | 52

Corn [email protected]
My pleasure!

Posted by: Acar Burak | Mar 1 2020 20:08 utc | 54

I doubt that anyone outside a pretty close group know the answer to your questions. However the likelihood, given that Russia gifted the system primarily to reduce Israeli attacks), is yes and yes. Also and I don't know where the S-300 is, it may be the closest physically to potential use by the Russians themselves, defending their assets in Idlib.

You are touching on a very basic and difficult problem affecting not just long range SAMs. In the same way that an F-16 can launch long range missiles, both AAM and ASM, at air or ground targets deep in Syria (and hence be itself a potential S-300 target), so also can Turkey's barrel/tube or missile artillery fire munitions far into Syria.

Strictly speaking if done this would be Turkey defacto declaring war on Syria. As a consequence Syria has the right to return fire, particularly at the offending assets. NATO Article 5 doesn't come into it as Turkey started it. That Syria doesn't is an indication that they really don't want to provoke Erdogan into having to declare proper war on Syria, which he would have to do to save face.

The problem for Turkey is what would happen should they, intentionally (unlikely) or accidentally, hit a Russian asset publicly as opposed to somewhere in the fog of a battlefield. Conversely, and a reason for my yes and yes, were Syrian forces to hit assets in or over Turkey this would give Russia a big problem, so I have no doubt that at the moment they are doing what they can to mitigate it.

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 1 2020 20:11 utc | 55

Oooops, sorry, my answers were to Joetv at 46's questions.

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 1 2020 20:15 utc | 56

Just occured to me:
Remember Russia's entry into the Syrian conflict? Wasn't that a cruise missile strike?
What sheer poetry were the end of the war to be marked in similar fashion...

Posted by: Egor68500 | Mar 1 2020 20:17 utc | 57

james | Mar 1 2020 17:58 utc | 33 (art 5)

Better read up on art 5, it's not what they's entirely up to each member so far as what they decide to do...Dean Acheson's auto bio says the same thing - and it was one of his "great achievements". It "triggers" the members to consider what, if anything, they might do.

Since attacking a country that did not attack you is illegal, they must decide to take the matter to the UNSC - that's the sole agency lawfully capable of violence, or decide to do nothing.

Art 5 is hokum to create consent for attacking a country that did not attack you - nothing less than that.

It's also probably void, moot, in Law, because it contravenes the UN Charter and Nuremberg, not that it matters...

"art 5" is just a propaganda slogan.

Posted by: Walter | Mar 1 2020 20:28 utc | 58

Egor68500, yup, that was the first of many shocks the US and NATO had to absorb on Russia's actual abilities as they winged their way in 1500km from the Caspian Sea.

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 1 2020 20:31 utc | 59

@ James #20

...approval from the pompous one.

Can you expand on the influence you believe Mike Pompeo is holding over Recep Erdogan?

I've speculated on the open thread (Also #20) that this leverage is connected with the US indictment of Halkbank, which has caused him to radically U turn his politics:

The indictment alleges that Halkbank, backed by and even encouraged by Turkish government officials including then-Prime Minister, now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, engaged in a yearslong scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions between 2012 and 2016 and funnel about $20 billion illicitly out of Turkey and back into Iranian hands.

Posted by: dennis | Mar 1 2020 20:39 utc | 60

@58 walter... thanks.. as @55 johnmk notes "NATO Article 5 doesn't come into it as Turkey started it." all of this is subject to opinions of lawyers i suppose..

@ 60 dennis.... pompass is sort of the american equivalent of erdogan in being a complete religious whackjob loon... i don't have anything more then his regular public statements which really ought to be a huge embarrassment to any sane american.. i guess they are few and far between? lol...

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 20:43 utc | 61

i still believe putin and russia are very much involved and in control of syrias response and etc. here.. as someone else noted earlier, putin and russia in general seem to be very patient in spite of this bullshit... i am also sure of how they view erdogan too...

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 20:45 utc | 62

@ james #61

Theresa May did a pretty good job of defending the indefensible - re Russia baiting/Novichok/Salisbury....

yes, the untusked Walrus's vulgarity in international politik is a spectacle all of it's own, and his war hawking.

I've suggested Erdogan (and possibly his sons) are faced with jailtime in the USA re. the Halkbank Iran transfer deception, and his current aggression against Russia/SAA is in effect a mitigating circumstances plea. Any thoughts?

Posted by: dennis | Mar 1 2020 20:52 utc | 63

SAA has regained most of Saraqib and towns to its Southwest. Arrest warrants were issued for ALL Turkish troops at OPs. Tortured SAA soldier was summarily executed, all apparently on video. Turks are now in deep shit, and that will carry over to the North and Northeastern areas. The new trolls don't know jack diddlesquack. Canthama update from 2 hours ago:

"Latest up date on the battle for the skies in Idlib.

"1) Confirmed 2 Su24 SAAF jets were downed today by missiles fired from F16s inside Turkish airspace. Syrian pilots are fine.

"2) A total of the 9 large Turkish attack UAVs downed during today alone, plus 2 small drones from al Qaeda. SyAAD confirmed all the kills thru AD and MANPADS. (between yesterday and today, the Turkish regime lost between 15-18 attack drones in Libya and Syria).

"The info above shows the amount of aggressiveness the turkish regime had during the past 4 days destroying SAA and allies targets on the ground…this is no more.

"PS: More ballistic missiles fired from Aleppo toward the turkish terrorists in Sarmin and Nayrab moments ago, these attacks are helping the SAA to advance west of Saraqib."

Igor Bundy shares the following:

"Russian Minister of Defence:

"We can not guarantee the safety of Turkish aircraft over Syria after SAA shut down the airspace over Idlib.

"Y.N.M.S @ynms79797979

"Reporting that arrest warrants issued against Turkish soldiers in the 13 observation posts...
besieged Turkish military outlets contain more than 800 Turkish soldiers and officers … will be arrested and presented to the media.

"They will negotiate surrendering them live in exchange for a full Turkish withdrawal from Idlib. Paper in the hands of the Syrian army and its allies … could soon be used …Russia can no longer protect the besieged Turkish points, pressure from the Syrian command is fierce. Turkey was told this through Russia."

The hatred within Syria for Turkey has grown to the point to where it's now almost unanimous as it's been the primary agent for the war waged on Syria. That Syria has yet to attack targets within Turkey is amazing; only the Russians are keeping that from occurring. The upshot will be a massive boost to Syrian resolve and to its allies who have also suffered at the Turk's actions; Iran is supremely pissed.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 1 2020 20:52 utc | 64

posted 1 hr ago:

Moon of Alabama
Putin made a political move that had militarily unforeseen consequence.
A misunderstanding of Erdogan's motives is the root cause.
Quote Tweet
Elijah J. Magnier
· 1h
A unilateral Russian ceasefire was a severe mistake because Russia neither anticipated the Turkish reaction nor did it allowed enough time for the Syrian Army and its allies to equip themselves with air defence systems.
via @ejmalrai
8:55 PM · Mar 1, 2020

Posted by: Veritas X- | Mar 1 2020 20:55 utc | 65

@51 Egor68500

>"Putin has placed some game changing armoury in the Med so is not about to walk off and leave Syria to it. "

Likely to protect Latakia or as a last resort help evacuate it and nothing else.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Mar 1 2020 21:03 utc | 66

@ 63 dennis... that is interesting speculation and i have no idea if it has much merit or not.. i can't tell just how tenuous erdogans hold on power is at the moment... no doubt there are any number of actions that could snag him, but he has been very adept at remaining free of all of them to date.. clearly the usa would like to use turkey to weaken russia and erdogan is accommodating this agenda probably knowingly.. i agree with another poster upstream - sooner then later putin and russia are going to have to act in a definitive way.. everything tells me they will as they have to date...

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 21:05 utc | 67

Veritas X @ 65

But it might have a silver lining if, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, the prospect of rolling the SAA back sucked hundreds of joyful headchoppers into what is going, by the look of it, to be the killing fields west of Saraqib, like it was a couple of weeks ago. It looks as if the SAA are recovering from the Turkish onslaught and piling in reinforcements to get the job done now that the artillery assisting Turkish drones are, or are about to be, gone. They look to have already liberated the eastern part of the city but, if they operate as before, they will be taking advantage of the momentum they have as the headchoppers morale will have been crushed from the highs of success to the lows of retreating under fire, again. You have to wonder where they will stop this time.

In addition, if any mercy was shown last time, by for example allowing terrorists/TA to flee ahead of the advance, as sure as eggs is eggs, following the various headchopper snuff videos they stupidly uploaded, it ain't happening again. Whilst the SAA will also have little compunction in hitting the Turkish guns that did so much damage and those Turkish OP mentioned by Karlofi must be on thin ice too.

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 1 2020 21:14 utc | 68

Yes John @68, "But it might have a silver lining if, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, the prospect of rolling the SAA back sucked hundreds of joyful headchoppers into what is going, by the look of it, to be the killing fields " is quite correct.
I noticed this same type of strategy last spring and, knew this was a viable, and efficient method which was the precursor to the latest Aleppo Liberation and now Al-Ghab Plain Offensive which has also included cauldrons.
Now the Syrian Army also has many the feared TOS-1 artillery in place for a real 'granddaddy of a surprise' for a grande finale.
I'm quite sure it will be used now, "on the road to Idlib".
Take a look at it:
Regards & no hard feelings, X-

Posted by: Veritas X- | Mar 1 2020 21:30 utc | 69

@karlof1 | 64
How dis I forget the obseevation posts.
Of course. Perfect play by Syria.
Hasn't realised there were as many as 800 soldiers.
That is going to cause a big problem.
The Turkish media has rarely criticised Turkey's part in this conflict, it dare not, but Fox (Turkish Fox) asked openly on several occasions why soldiers were being allowed to be surroubded and left in such a vulnerable position.

Posted by: Egor685++ | Mar 1 2020 21:39 utc | 70

US Strike Carrier Group D. Eisenhower has entered the Mediterranean Sea after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar steaming to the East at good speed, to demonstrate "fully commitment to our allies and partners".

Things are heating up in Syria, we'll see the Bear's answer

Posted by: DFC | Mar 1 2020 21:47 utc | 71

The more I read about what has occurred in the last day or so the more I think it will turn out a mistake not to destroy Erdogan and his military now.
US and its minions like to call everyone they don't like a hitler, but with what he has been saying publicly, to the extent of using Hitler as an example for a presidency to have more powers, and with his actions, he is walking in the foot steps of Hitler.

The recent attack came just after or during a Russian Turk meeting in which both sides said they wished to reduce tensions. Iran, in everything except Syria are allies of Turkey, yet Erdogan deliberately attacked and destroyed Iranian headquarters.
For Erdogan, ceasefire agreements and other agreements are meaningless, just a tool or a weapon to be used against suckers who abide by them.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Mar 1 2020 21:57 utc | 72

Good but lengthy summary of Idlib situation:

Posted by: Thomas Minnehan | Mar 1 2020 22:14 utc | 73

Very big question: Where is China in all of this? No one seems to be asking but the absence itself is a huge question mark.

According to BBC, 1 of the 4 main armed groups in Idlib are Uighur jihadists.

Descriptions lifted from BBC story below:

- Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, a jihadist alliance)
- National Liberation Front (Turkish-backed rebel alliance)
- Hurras al-Din (pro-al-Qaeda HTS offshoot)
- Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP, Chinese Uighur-dominated jihadist group)

Does that mean there are thousands of Uighur jihadists in Idlib? Maybe even more than 10,000? Then Syria and Russia are on the frontline defending Chinese security. After Idlib, will Turkey push the Uighurs out of Turkey? Maybe some will be used by Turkey for Libya? Will some of them return to China? Where the hell is China in all of this? What is China doing to support Syria and Russia?

What's known is China is very concerned that Uighur jihadists who will return to China to fuel terrorism. China has funded border security on the Tajikistan and Afghanistan side of the border and even conducts joint patrols with Tajikistan on its side.

Posted by: cornermarket | Mar 1 2020 22:26 utc | 74

BigShawn @7 has it right. Russia's position in Syria is untenable against a full-scale Turkish invasion. They have neither the assets nor the strategic depth in Syria to be much more then a speedbump to the Turkish Army. Neither do they have logistical security for bringing reinforcements to Syria.

That leaves the option of all out war with Turkey, a war they would win, but at very high cost. Turkey militarily is more powerful then Iran, and Russia isn't as powerful as the USA. Russia would have more difficulty with Turkey than USA would have with Iran. Not to mention the specter of full-scale nuclear war.

It is good to recall the seven nations in five years plans espoused by the NeoCons back in 2001. The key being "five years". The collapsing nature of western crony capitalism has given the USA/Vassals a limited time to conquer the world before the economy goes kaput. It has been nearly 20 years since then, and the seven nation plan is nowhere near complete...putting the west in a very dangerous position.

My point being, Russia doesn't need to "win" in Syria for them to "win" in the bigger picture. They have already won by delaying the conquest of Syria by at least five years. In the big picture that delay is likely be the straw that broke the camels back for the AngloZionist Empire.

Another good point made is that despite all Erdoghan's shortcomings, he is an independent actor on the world stage, and not a CIA stooge. If his actions align with Israel at times, or with Russia at other times, it is because he feels his actions benefit Turkey.

Posted by: Hassaan | Mar 1 2020 22:32 utc | 75

Just wondering why SAA waited this long to close the airspace over Idlib. The losses in the past few days were avoidable if they had planned measures against a possible drones attacks from Turkey.

Are SAA air defenses in that region so bad as not to know that the Turks have 2 F16s in the sky? I thought the Russian have full radar coverage over these regions

Honestly the past few days really made me sad. I hate bullies, and the Turks are really trying to bully Syria around in their own ground. Sad! I wish Russians could just step up their game and put cork on the Turkish lid.

Posted by: Enigma | Mar 1 2020 22:34 utc | 76
In accordance with the MoU signed in Damascus, the first group of captured Syrian mercenaries will be deported soon. When I mentioned this development to a Hamza Division fighter today, he was dumbfounded. This possibility never occurred to them, and it’s terrifying."

Parts of the agreement signed with the Syrian government are full Intelligence cooperation in the fields of military and counter #Terrorism and transferring all captured Syrian mercenary #terrorists to the Syrian authorities after being questioned in #libya"

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Mar 1 2020 22:48 utc | 77

Waow, you guys have not be long to find a new 'plot' in order to excuse your shortcoming sight. So Erdogan took advantage of a trust to attack and the pantsir we no reacting. Nope, I don't think so, it does not fit his profile. Erdogan think of himself as somebody fair. And I told you that Erdogan is somebody ultimately doing what he claims he will do, even if it does it at a very slow pace. He needs first to convinced himself then he acts, irrelevant of the consequences.

Meantime, my abacus count every hit on the head choppers or on the Finger nails collectors side. I am not difficult and accept them with equal joy, So must be the kurds of Afrin and every ghost spirit of YPJ. I don't believe in the 6 UAV shot down, just because it is SANAA, b is naive. Must be one or 2 and who cares anyway, turks have several hundreds UAV. I still bet on Turks low air to ground missiles stockpile to let the remnant of SAA escape fast and far.

Posted by: murgen23 | Mar 1 2020 22:50 utc | 78

I know that what we are seeing publically in Idlib is a part of the war but the events of the last week may be making military strategists all round the world review just what is the role of their expensive CAS aircraft, attack helicopters and drones large enough to carry decent information gathering payloads or weapons given the risks they now face.

These weapons systems have moved to the forefront of Western military ground warfare thinking over the past few decades primarily as a result of US/NATO fighting against non peer opponents.

Now we have the brutal reminder in Idlib that first, CAS aircraft like the Su-25 and Mi-24 the RuAF haven't even bothered to fly (as far as I can see), second, other helicopters like Mi-8 dropped like flies so are no longer used and third, the new kids on the block, UAVs, have been shown to be equally vulnerable and are about to vanish from its skies.

That was just with, limited to <5km, MANPADS. Add into the mix >5km SAM systems and you potentially eliminate Su-24/34, Tu-22M and RQ-4 type aircraft from directly overflying the battlefield. Munitions are going to have to be dropped 10s or 100s of km from targets and even they run the risk of destruction before reaching their target, like the IAF attacks in southern Syria.

There are, I suspect a very small, group of individuals who actually know the real effectiveness of electronic warfare and other countermeasures in either defence or attack that may or may not be being used in Idlib that alter the basis of my simple analysis. Those of us who are not in that group will just have to speculate as to whether warfare is moving back in many ways to the days of 1914/5 or there are 'magic boxes' out there that work.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 1 2020 22:56 utc | 79

@ James #67

Rand Corp trotted out a badly informed paper Re Turkey/Syria but in it suggested the solution was Coup #Two on Turkey.
Prosecution is a much cleaner way to go than a coup, and has benefit of greater international weight, and it's $20 Billion so the bankers lost out, which at that level aren't a group to get the wrong side of.

The indictment clearly names Erdogan, so yes he's going to use all his wily skill sets to dodge bullets as necessary, more confident if he's reasonably sure an Ides of March battle group is going to sail down the med to back him up.

The indictment alleges that Halkbank, backed by and even encouraged by Turkish government officials including then-Prime Minister, now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, engaged in a years long scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions between 2012 and 2016 and funnel about $20 billion illicitly out of Turkey and back into Iranian hands.

It's speculative I know, but rational also that it needs a big trigger to force radical policy shift in such short time. This trigger can fit, but there can be others in dark corridors we'll never see.

Posted by: dennis | Mar 1 2020 23:02 utc | 80

Checking Russian red lines...

Think hard where you place them Vlad, cause the next testing is for you.

Posted by: Erlindur | Mar 1 2020 23:18 utc | 81

this is stupid. Carrying out formatting to the next post

Posted by: Erlindur | Mar 1 2020 23:21 utc | 82

@ Hassaan | Mar 1 2020 22:32 utc | 75

That leaves the option of all out war with Turkey, a war they would win, but at very high cost. Turkey militarily is more powerful then Iran, and Russia isn't as powerful as the USA. Russia would have more difficulty with Turkey than USA would have with Iran. Not to mention the specter of full-scale nuclear war.

In the event of an all-out war against Turkey, Russia's objectives would be very different from what would be USA's objectives in an all-out war against Iran.

Russia only needs to hit relatively few points to damage Turkey economically for years to come, the already weakened state of Turkey's economy makes Turkey especially vulnerable. Turkey does not have any means at all to reciprocate against Russia. A few more hits and Turkey will be militarily castrated, again the Turks cannot answer in kind to such a blow. The combination of the two will be especially devastating for Turkey and cause a administrative and perhaps even social collapse. Just think about the opportunities for the PKK that such a collapse would provide.

Nukes are not necessary at all and Russia will not employ them against Turkey. They will use them when the USA does. That would be catastrophic to the whole world. Everybody knows this. Nobody thinks Turkey is worth it.

In contrast to Turkey, Iran has lots of retaliatory options in case of an attack by the USA, they don't even have to hit USA mainland directly.

If what we are witnessing is not some kind of kabuki theater, as some like to suggest, then Erdogan is spectacularly overplaying his hand. He is rapidly losing all international credit he still had left. He is allowed to portray himself on the public stage as a neo-Ottoman aggressor, an ally of blatantly obvious terrorists and a completely untrustworthy negotiation partner. He is about to undo years of western media propaganda depicting rabid jihadists as moderate rebels, not a small feat.

People complaining about Putin's betrayal of Syrian people ought to consider that Russia appreciates the fact that Erdogan needs to be give sufficient amounts of rope to hang himself from.

Posted by: Lurk | Mar 1 2020 23:24 utc | 83

end bold text

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 1 2020 23:25 utc | 84

when i tried to access canthama's twitter account i was told it's been suspended. has anyone else encountered this?

Posted by: emersonreturn | Mar 1 2020 23:32 utc | 85

@ Erdlindur 81-82

My apologies, forgot the / after mention of Erdogan in the US indictment

Posted by: dennis | Mar 1 2020 23:32 utc | 86

A minute ago I was on his Twitter account but now it seems like it has been suspensed

Posted by: Vato | Mar 1 2020 23:34 utc | 87

@ dennis | Mar 1 2020 23:02 utc | 80

Erdogan will not be jailed by the USA for the Halkbank accusations. At most they might sanction some crony friends of him, thereby applying indirect pressure on Erdogan, via his political network. As a head of state, he is mostly untouchable, as are his direct family members. These are the unspoken rules of international diplomacy.

The only way Erdogan would see Americal jail from the inside is when he is down and out and has no more political significance and leverage. Ato that point, it would be a waste of time and energy to be bothered with him anymore.

Posted by: Lurk | Mar 1 2020 23:35 utc | 88

Lurk 83
Erdogan has put his head in the noose now, but there is no hangman.
He has lost Allies and made enemies. I guess if he is contained for a year or two, the Turk economy and with it manufacturing should tank, but likely to take a nasty civil war to oust him and his shaven jihadis in the military.
In the meantime, SAA will continue to take losses from cross border artillery and rocket fire.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Mar 1 2020 23:39 utc | 89

@87, thank you---twitter is beyond belief!

Posted by: emersonreturn | Mar 1 2020 23:40 utc | 90

Yeah, Canthama just got censored.

Posted by: Veritas X- | Mar 1 2020 23:45 utc | 91

Classic fog of war. No way to tell what's going on until the fog dissipates ...

Posted by: Trisha | Mar 1 2020 23:47 utc | 92

Well, Erdogan has escalated again by shooting down two Syrian jets (pilots ejected and parachuted down unharmed).

Putin is now in the hard place. He's going to have to respond to this sort of thing. He's probably hoping to avoid a Turkish shoot down of a Russian jet, but unless he reactivates air support over Idlib in furtherance of Assad's declaration of a no-fly zone over the province, he's not going to prevent Erdogan from continuing drone strikes and air power attacks on Syrian forces.

In my view, Putin should abandon attempts to coddle Erdogan, reactivate Russian air power over Idlib, and continue support of the Syrian forces on the ground regardless of whether Turkish troops are embedding themselves with the jihadists (which appears to be why those 30 Turkish troops died in the first place.) If this means Russian jets need to shoot down Turkish jets, then he should be prepared to authorize that.

Colonel Pat Lang has suggested that the reason the Turks are making progress in Idlib is because of the heavy artillery they're using. He points out that if those guns are in Syria, they should be subject to Russian air attacks without fear of NATO response. If they are over the border inside Turkey, then Russia might still be able to hit them without a NATO response because Turkey is using them in support of an illegal invasion of Syria. Taking out those guns would probably force the Turks to halt the invasion or at least slow it down.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Mar 1 2020 23:47 utc | 93

@ Lurk #88

Noriega also thought he was untouchable, but does $20 Billion get Pompeo enough leverage to have his own war stalking horse, perhaps to open the door a little?

I'll leave it at that and see what this battle group gets up to over next several days.

Posted by: dennis | Mar 1 2020 23:49 utc | 94

@ 79 johnmk... good post and questions... i think the game has changed and those paying attention are onto it.. i am not convinced this is kabuki theatre anymore.. i thought so before this.. now i am not so sure.. erdogan is techically the political/military head of al qaeda at this point.. that isn't going un-noticed by anyone regardless what the msm pitches...

@ 80 dennis... i see it much the same as @88 lurk... remember these are ''exceptional usa laws'' the usa would like to apply universally.. they don't apply outside the usa.. the usa like to pretend they do by imposing financial sanctions on those countries they seek to regime change / destabilize... erdogan is still a very useful tool / lunatic here.. someone needs to send pompass to rapture heaven to save the planet from his insanity..

Posted by: james | Mar 1 2020 23:49 utc | 95

A report Russia is now using EW to shut down Turk drone completely. Hopefully the have shut down satellite position signals as well. Turk long range artillery would then have to rely on firing blindly at map co-ordinates rather than using guided missiles and .

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Mar 1 2020 23:56 utc | 96

Turkish convoy in Sarmin in Idlib countryside being bombed by Russian fighters, which resulted in deaths and injuries according to the coordination of the militants...
Who doesn't believe, let's check at least three planes were in the air then.
Turkish sources
A large number of ambulances went to the Syrian-Turkish border

Posted by: Veritas X- | Mar 1 2020 23:58 utc | 97

From the Intercept article..

The TB2 now forms the backbone of Ankara’s aerial operations. It can fly at an altitude of 24,000 feet for up to 24 hours but relies on ground control stations for communication. With a range of up to 150 kilometers, it can carry a payload of 120 pounds. The more than 75 TB2s used by Turkish forces today fly a total of about 6,000 hours a month and have become a game changer for Turkey’s counter-PKK campaign in the southeast. PKK members are no longer able to move in large groups as they did in 2011.

I wonder if the observation posts put up by Turkey are to fill in radio gaps for the ground control of their drone operations? It could also be backup in case of loss of communication. The drones themselves could be controlled by these observation posts handed off to them after leaving Turkey or at least have that capability. One wonders.

Posted by: dltravers | Mar 2 2020 0:00 utc | 98

@ dennis | Mar 1 2020 23:49 utc | 94

Noriega was "their guy" in "their backyard" gone rogue. Not comparable to Erdogan and Turkey.

Posted by: Lurk | Mar 2 2020 0:00 utc | 99

Just to add about Art5...specific limitation is to northamerica and europe...turkey is a questionably qualified party to call for art 5.

But like I said, it's mostly a propaganda slogan for a buncha rubes.

Posted by: Walter | Mar 2 2020 0:01 utc | 100

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