Cleaning up Syria: What Comes Next

Discussion in 'West Mall' started by Musburger1, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    Syria Summary - Crossing The Euphrates At Deir Ezzor
    The last three weeks in Syria were marked by further consolidation of the Syrian government positions. While this will likely continue, a new front of contention with the U.S. occupation force in north-east Syria is building up over Deir Ezzor city and the oil-rich rural areas east of it.

    Map by Weekend Warrior - bigger

    Last week the Syrian army liberated Sukhnah east of Palmyra from the Islamic State occupation. The fighting was less severe than anticipated. After nearly surrounding the city and the killing of the local ISIS commander the enemy forces mostly fled towards the Euphrates and Deir Ezzor.

    Two large ISIS held pockets are forming in the east-Hama area. The 3,000 square-kilometer western encirclement is by now complete and remaining ISIS forces within the pocket are hunted down by Russian helicopters and Syrian army commandos. This will eliminate any danger for the narrow supply route to Aleppo city. The second pocket will soon close too. Within the next week the Syrian army will have consolidated the whole area. Troops currently concerned with surrounding the pockets will be freed for the push further east towards Deir Ezzor. There will be no more danger of large surprise attacks in the back of advancing forces.

    One such attack recently overran a desert outpost and killed 18 fighters from an Iran-supported group on the Syrian government side. These lost units were replaced by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The injection of IRGC units is a new phenomenon. So far IRGC involvement was restricted to commanders of irregular units recruited from Iraq or Afghanistan or as advisors to Syrian army units, While Iran adds forces to the Syrian government side the Lebanese Hizbullah has reportedly reduced its involvement from a peak 20,000 forces to about 5,000. This was possible after several "rebel" held areas in west-Syria and near the Lebanese border were pacified and consolidated. The only area in the western part of Syria with active fighting is now the east-Ghouta enclave to the east of Damascus. A mix of fighters from al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra) and Salafists of the Faylaq Al-Rahman continued to reject ceasefire offers. After increasing losses over the past weeks and a difficult supply situation Faylaq Al-Rahman today gave up its resistance. It is only a question of time until the al-Qaeda elements will also agree to give up their fight and accept offers for an evacuation to Idleb province.

    After the total defeat of Ahrar al-Sham Salafist groups Idleb has become the al-Qaeda refuge and stronghold in Syria. Turkey has limited supplies to the area to humanitarian goods and infighting between various local groups and al-Qaeda is causing daily carnage. For now no party - Syria, Turkey or the U.S. and its Kurdish proxies - is interested in the costly venture of liberating the area. It will be left to rot until spring.

    Strategically the U.S. has lost the war it waged against Syria. All that is left is to defeat ISIS at Raqqa and to leave. But the imperial U.S. military, the neoconservatives and the liberal interventionists will not be happy with that outcome. They attempt to resist the inevitable.

    hope for a long lasting support and a permanent stationing of U.S. forces. But the U.S. is an unreliable partner and its strategic interest is determined by its relations to Turkey which vehemently opposes any Kurdish control over any parts of Syria.

    The U.S. military has plans to move from Raqqa along the Euphrates towards Deir Ezzor and further east to the border city of Abu Kamal. A second front would move from the north towards the Euphrates and capture the al-Omar oil fields. That would consolidate the significant oil reserves north of the Euphrates and currently under ISIS control into the U.S. occupied zone. It seems unlikely that these U.S plans will succeed. The (assumed) Syrian plan (below) currently looks more viable.

    Map by Fabrice Balanche - bigger (with legend)

    In these plans the Syrian army will approach Deir Ezzor from the north-west along the southern bank of the Euphrates and from the south-west through the Syrian semi-desert. After liberating Deir Ezzor the Syrian army would cross the Euphrates and continue on both banks of the river up to the Iraqi border until it has liberated all areas under ISIS control. The crossing of the Euphrates would require significant Russian support.

    The U.S. does not have enough proxy forces to move towards the east and south and to attack Deir Ezzor. The areas are Arab and U.S. recruiting of Arab proxy forces there has proven abysmal. A few hundred more or less reliable fighters is insufficient for any larger endeavor. Attempts to move tribal proxy fighters from the Jordanian border area towards the northern Kurdish held areas have mostly failed. Everyone anticipates the U.S. engagement in east-Syria, surrounded by countries which reject a Kurdish controlled entity in Syria, will be temporary. The long term interests of the Arab tribes lie with the Syrian government.

    Israel is pressing for further U.S. engagement. A full reestablishment of Syrian government control over Syria is seen as a "nightmare scenario". The preferred outcome is a balkanized Syria in which Israel can play off various sectarian or ethnic groups against each other. While its optimal outcome is now unlikely to be achievable Israel will continue to press for an autonomous Kurdish area under U.S. control. To be economical viable that area needs the oil fields north of the Euphrates. We can therefore expect some resistance from the U.S. military and Israel influenced experts against a Syrian army move across the Euphrates and to capture the oil fields.

    I expect the Euphrates crossing and the consolidation of the oil-fields to become the next contentious issue between the U.S. and Russia in the Syrian war theater.
  2. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    F18E Super Hornet taking down Syrian regime Soviet era aircraft

    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
  3. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    Some more video here of Tomcats bombing ISIS, which they have been doing pretty much 24/7 for about a year

    Not for the faint of heart -- Youtube keeps taking it down

  4. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

  5. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

  6. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    The Russian equivalent of Walter Cronkite.

  7. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

  8. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    The US lit the Russians up recently (sorry Musberger)
    They were supposedly non-regulars (mercs fighting for Assad). But it was a bunch of them. This article says over 200. But I have read other sources say it was closer to 500, even compared to "The Highway of Death" in Kuwait.
    They were warned off multiple times through channels set up to prevent this sort of thing. But the Syrians/Russians kept denying they were even in the area.
  9. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    This latest episode exposes the rational of establishing bases in Syria for the purpose of fighting ISIS is a farce.
    The objective has been and continues to be to overthrow Assad and carve up the Syrian State.
    But at what cost? Turkey is a NATO country and allows the US to use Incirlik. The US is going to have to decide between Turkey and the Kurds. The US can’t afford to lose Turkey but stiffing the Kurds demonstrates the US cannot be trusted.
    Basically, the US is fighting for Israel and the Saudis and hopes to wreck the Middle East so that Russia has no influence. It’s a stupid policy and likely to fail. Trump just seems to be along for the ride with nobody really in charge.
  10. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    All we know for sure are a few facts and several versions of the reality. From South Fromt:

    Mainstream media outlets and social media are full of reports that on February 7th hundreds of Russian private military contractors (PMCs) died in US-led coalition airstrikes on pro-government forces in the province of Deir Ezzor. Various sources provide different numbers, but one of the most popular versions is that between 100 and 600 PMCs were killed.

    So, what is going on?

    On February 8, the US-led coalition released a statement saying that on February 7th it had struck “pro-regime forces” attacking “Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters” in the Euphrates Valley. According to local sources, the US strikes hit the positions of pro-government forces near the village of Khasham. The CONICO gas facility and the nearby Jafar oil field were reportedly the targets of the alleged attack.

    The US military described its actions as “defensive”. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis even claimed that the incident does not mean that Washington is “getting engaged in the Syrian civil war”. The Pentagon also said that it had informed the Russians via the de-confliction line in advance of the attack and no Russian personnel were there.

    According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the US-led coalition struck a local militia conducting a military operation against ISIS cells in the area of al-Isba. 25 militiamen were killed in the incident.

    Meanwhile, the pro-government Arab tribe al-Bakara announced in an official statement that dozens of its sons were killed in the US strikes without providing a precise number.

    Later, on February 11, the ISIS Hunters of the 5th Assault Corps of the Syrian Arab Army said that on February 7th they had repelled a joint attack from ISIS and the SDF on Khasham and this had caused the US attack. The unit added that they had lost 20 fighters in the strikes. The ISIS Hunters are known for their links to Russian PMCs.

    But there is another side to the story.

    On February 7 and on February 8, the English-speaking mainstream media, like Politico, Reuters, CNN, were spreading reports that over 100 pro-Assad fighters were killed in the US strikes. All the reports were based on anonymous sources and were mixed with statements from the Pentagon and the defense secretary to look more reliable. According to these reports, a group of 300-500 government fighters, backed up by battle tanks and artillery, were involved in the alleged attack on the SDF.

    On February 8, some infamous figures and media outlets of the Russian media sphere started spreading reports that Russian PMCs had suffered mass casualties in the February 7 incident. The conflicting reports, also based on anonymous sources, included estimates such as “two truckloads of dead bodies”, 10-20 killed, 100, 200, 300, 600.

    On February 10, the Russian telegram channel WarGonzo posted 5 audio recordings of an alleged conversation among 3 PMCs. One of the voices provides the number of 177 killed. These audio recordings had also been received by a number of Russian journalists since February 7 and were most likely a forgery.

    By February 14, reports had settled at a general number of 10-600 dead PMCs.

    Meanwhile, the analysis of open info, including reports from relatives and friends of the PMCs involved in the operation, allowed all the concerned sides to find out that 5 Russians reportedly died in the aforementioned period. However, no details are available.

    Independent journalists also noted that no aircraft, which could have been involved in the transfer of the killed and injured PMCs, had been spotted at Khmeimim Air Base since February 7. SouthFront correspondents and sources in Damascus and Deir Ezzor can also not confirm information regarding the hundreds of killed PMCs.

    SouthFront’s military experts aware of the situation say that the possible number of the casualties could be higher than 5, but not more than 15-20.

    The entire story about mass casualties of Russian PMCs is based on unconfirmed and fake data, that includes a few real facts like the US strikes, some PMCs casualties and the participation of the ISIS Hunters in the incident. The rest is an orchestrated campaign in keeping with the best traditions of propaganda.

    The goals of which would be that:

    • the US is able to fight back against the Russians in Syria;
    • Russia is not able to defend its interests;
    • the Kremlin is not concerned over killed Russian citizens or is not able to carry out any pay back.
  11. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    (a) I think you pretty much have to be completely Russia-centric to arrive at that conclusion
    (b) Trump was in Syria before he was sworn in. His most notable policy change was to reverse Obama's micromanagement and delegate to the military.
    Look, I get it that you dont care for Trump, but there is no good reason you cant be objective about the more obvious things.
  12. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    If you know anything about Russian military history, you know that they have never accurately reported the amount of Russian military casualties. They are infamous for this. It's still true today as Putin has forbidden Crimean media from mentioning any report of any Russian death in Syria.

    As far as the conflict in issue, accounts are that the US used every single aircraft it had in the region, including drones and AC-130s (you know what they can do). Marines even contributed artillery fire.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  13. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    Why do you think we are in Syria, Joe? Surely you don’t believe the nonsense spouted we are there to defeat ISIS. Trump talks a good game when he talks about the trillions wasted on wars and occupation, but the reality is we’ve opened bases inside Syria the past year - illegally I might add - as well as increase troop numbers in Afghanistan with every indication both occupations will continue indefinitely.
    Sure, Trump has delegated more authority to the military. The military is totally unaccountable to the American public and basically carries out policy without any civilian oversight whatsoever. But apparently that’s how most Americans want it; shut up, don’t tell me anything I don’t want to know, and the hell with anyone that has the nerve to question the actions of our hallowed military leadership.
  14. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    So you are saying the US threw the kitchen sink into the attack? What is your source? Are you denying the report that said the US was in contact with Russians the entire time?
    It’s apparently important for you to believe some great victory was achieved. Maybe that was the case. Maybe not. But with all the lying from both the media and various US officials - both during the Obama administration and now - how can anyone not question anything being reported?
  15. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    Trump is not the reason the US entered the Syrian conflict. This is or should be self-evident even to you
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  16. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    There are multiple first hand accounts in military blogs
  17. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    No, I stated this in the opening post on this event, and I think it was pretty clear

  18. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    This is inaccurate, and pretty silly.
    I was merely reporting the facts as I understood them.
    As far as how I would describe the situation, I would call it concerning.
  19. Monahorns

    Monahorns 1,000+ Posts

    How can the US be fighting against ISIS when the bombing that Trump authorized last year directly helped ISIS? Who is the group fighting against the Assad regime? It isn't the Kurds. The Kurds are fighting the same group. Who are the Kurds fighting in Northern Iraq? ISIS? Yes. ISIS. And Al Qaeda.

    I can't say with certainty what exactly is going on, but there is enough obfuscation on either side to make me skeptical of whatever is going on. The best explanation for the Benghazi cover up is that it was an effort to purchase/smuggle/send/etc weapons from the former Libyan state to Al Qaeda for use in Syria. Currently, the same people are running the US military as then. Notice the media and all those who usually criticize Trump were singing his praises when he authorized the bombing on Assad last year.

    I am skeptical of Musberger on most things, but I think he has it right on this.
  20. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    The entire US presence in Syria might be extra-Constitutional. While I could probably argue for its legality if I had too, it would be a weak argument. As far as why Obama did what he did with regard to Syria, he has never been precise about that. Whenever he started something by saying "Let me be clear ...." you always knew that whatever followed would be anything but clear. In any event, your attempt to lay the fact that US boots are on the ground in Syria on Trump is wholly misplaced.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  21. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    These blogs could be factual or they could be intentionally manufactured for the desired psychological effect. Don’t believe everything which is presented as fact.

    The honorable President Trump defended the accusations against Porter recently as the absence of due process. This from the same man who ordered a missile attack against Syria while enjoying a wonderful slice of chocolate cake. Just this week Mattis admitted there was no evidence who committed the chemical attack which led Trump to order the attack. Due process? No, just more BS.
  22. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    Yet another narrative.
    Did the US knowingly strike Russian private military contractors in Syria?
    February 14, 2018 - FRN -

    The US Department of Defense has commented on the incident with the air strike in Syria, during which soldiers of the Russian private military company "Wagner" were killed.

    The Pentagon explained that they had struck a blow in self-defense. The Americans accused the "hostile forces" of a "provocative and coordinated attack" on the position of the Kurdish group "Syrian Democratic Forces", where US advisers were present.

    The American side contacted Russian officials and stated that such incidents are unacceptable. After that, a massive counter-attack began with the use of the B-52 strategic bomber, the flying artillery battery AC-130, as well as MQ-9 drones, F-15 fighters and AH-64 helicopters.

    "Several artillery pieces and tanks were destroyed, as soon as the attackers began to retreat, we stopped the fire," the Pentagon said.

    Wagner specified that 72 people were injured, 40 were killed- reports are that two of these losses were Russian. Wagner also stated that the Syrian side and Wagner attempted to seize the oil refinery from the Kurds, supported by the United States without consulting with the Russian Defense Ministry.

    According to some reports, the US side sent a request to the Russian Defense Ministry, asking whether there are any Russians in the conflict zone, but received a negative response. This has not been confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
  23. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    The Saker comments:
    Syria SITREP: Approximate figures of the US airstrike in Syria & lessons learned
    703 Views February 15, 2018 No Comments
    I will keep this one short. You all have read all the nonsense about 100 to 600 Russians killed in the recent US air strike in Syria. According to these rumors (typical PSYOP stuff, by the way) the “hundreds” of Russians were private military contractors (PMCs). Well, for one thing, PMC rarely operated in the hundreds to begin with (5-20 people is much more common). But nevermind that. Turns that that official US and Russian sources actually more or less agree on the casualty figures. Here is the summary made by Cassad:

    • 40 volunteers from local tribes
    • 15 SAA fighters + Brigadier General
    • 20 fighters of ” ISIS Hunters” group
    • 5 Russian PMCs
    Now that looks *a lot* more likely and more or less matches the official US “100” figure.

    In my opinion this airstrike is pretty much a non-event. The US Americans attacked a column threatening their control of the zone of Syria they want to occupy (what else is new?), the bombing was a one way thing with no air cover or air defenses (so probably not Russian or even official government organized), the column was wiped-off (well yeah, of course), the folks at CENTCOM were all happy with it and did not know what to say when some three letter soup agency decided to pounce on this to create a massive big deal ex nihilo. The Russians were equally baffled. A few days later, the entire story collapsed but for a short while the Internet went crazy about it.

    Lessons learned: next time around when you hear the next mega-rumor, relax, take a breather, don’t immediately jump to conclusion and just wait! Wait until the dust settles and you actually get some facts. Here is a pointer: big, important, events usually have big, important, consequences. When you hear of a mega-rumor and then nothing happens, you can be pretty sure that this is a non-event.

    It is pretty safe to predict that there will be A LOT of these fake mega-non-events in the future, so we better get used to them. At the very least, let’s wait 24 if not 48 hours before reacting to them. Most likely imnsho: a new “chemical attack by the regime” followed by some “coalition bombing” which will “send a strong message” to the “regime” about the use of chemical weapons (in reality the US-backed “good terrorists” will use chlorine gas to trigger yet another bomb/missile strike on Syrian forces).
  24. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    You post that then immediately follow it up with two posts quoting Putin bloggers?
    Not sure irony captures that.
  25. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    What is a Putin blogger? Anyone who considers points of view other than mainstream sanctioned talking points?
    • Like Like x 1
  26. OUBubba

    OUBubba 1,000+ Posts

    Shouldn't this just be a intraserver conversation on the St. Petersburg network? Or in Slack? ;)
  27. OUBubba

    OUBubba 1,000+ Posts

    Tomi Loren.
  28. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    They are pretty easy to spot
    • Like Like x 1
  29. Joe Fan

    Joe Fan 10,000+ Posts

    The WAPO claims it has an intelligence report that suggests the deadly Feb 7 incident between US forces and Russian mercenaries in Syria was planned and coordinated by Prigozhin and high-ranking Syrian and Russian officials.

    "A Russian oligarch believed to control the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria this month was in close touch with Kremlin and Syrian officials in the days and weeks before and after the assault, according to U.S. intelligence reports.

    In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had “secured permission” from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a “fast and strong” initiative that would take place in early February.

    Prigozhin made front-page headlines last week when he was indicted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on charges of bankrolling and guiding a long-running Russian scheme to conduct “information warfare” during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign....."
  30. Musburger1

    Musburger1 2,500+ Posts

    Interesting article. One thing that strikes me is the timing between the release of this article which focuses on Prigozhin, the supposed head of Wagner, just following the Muellar indictment of the same guy. Me thinks this is no coincidence. Most likely the consecutive one two punch of the indictment followed by the WP story was orchestrated for maximum effect.

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