Events in Syria and Iraq Thread #2

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Yazata, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I started this new thread because the other 'Events in Syria' thread has been hijacked by those who want to use it for expressing their hostility towards Russia. Hopefully this thread can stay focused on military events inside Iraq and Syria, and on the actions of outside nations only as they are relevant to that military situation. (I included Iraq, because an offensive against Mosul is supposed to happen in the next year, forces will have to be chosen and then positioned (whose forces will take part?) and there will probably be smaller operations against ISIS before that.)

    Here's an up to date map of the situation north of Aleppo as of Wednesday evening Feb 10, 2016:

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/northern_aleppo_-_february_10_.html

    Here's a larger scale map of the Aleppo area as of Friday February 5, to put the developments in the first map into perspective.

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/northern_aleppo.html

    The Kurds seem to be advancing east across a local highway and have taken an airbase (Menagh) previously held by the rebels. The Syrian army is advancing from the south and is in talks for the surrender of Tel Rif'at, one of the two largest towns still in rebel hands on the Syrian side of the Turkish border. The Islamic state is looming to the east of this shrinking rebel corridor. They appear to be moving slowly west along the road towards Azaz, the other large town. So the rebels in this shrinking area seem to be fighting on three sides, with Turkey on the fourth. The question is whether the Turks will cross the border to aid them.

    I think that one lesson to be drawn from this is that all of the many factions in Syria can sense weakness and move to exploit it by expanding into it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
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  3. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Hopefully, this thread can restrain itself from becoming a propaganda source for the Putin and Assad regimes and republishing regime propaganda while ignoring real and credible evidence.
     
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  5. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

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    Given that Russia is and always has been the primary fuel source for the Assad regime and its entire war effort, there's no point in discussing events in Syria without mentioning it. It's pretty one-sided of you to claim that the other thread was hijacked by Joepistole and myself, as if it should have been left to Kremlin propaganda or people upset that the US government isn't paying them millions of dollars to date cheerleaders.
     
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  7. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Indeed, it's difficult, if not impossible to extract Russia from occurrences in Syria as Mother Russia is deeply involved in Syrian politics and military operations. How can one honestly discuss developments in Syria without discussing Russia's involvement in Syrian military operations and politics? I don't think the intent of this thread was to discuss developments in Syria. I think it is an attempt to glorify Mother Putin, which is probably the reason why Putin injected his troops into Syria in the first place.
     
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Reports from multiple sources say that Turkish artillery located on their side of the border are shelling the Menagh air base in northern Syria today, Saturday Feb 13, 2016. (Menagh is about 7 miles/12 km south of the border.) The Kurds took the former Syrian air force base from the rebels on Wednesday. (Turkey detests the Syrian Kurds, who are allied with the Kurdish insurgents who are seeking independence in SE Turkey.)

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/02/13/latest-activists-say-turkey-shelling-kurds-in-syria.html

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-turkey-shelling-idUSKCN0VM0Q0

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/af...di-launch-anti-IS-ground-operation-Syria.html

    A map of the area (as of Friday 2-12-16) is here-

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/northern_aleppo_-_february_12_.html

    There are also reports that Saudi Arabia is sending 8 - 10 jet fighters to the Incerlik NATO base near Adana in Turkey. The US Air Force is currently using that base to fly air strikes against ISIS. The Turkish foreign minister has been talking about Turkey and the Saudis sending in ground troops, but there doesn't seem to be any sign of that as of now.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    (wild guess)
    Sending in ground troops without the invitation of the Syrian government would be an act of war.
     
  10. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Not really, the previously referenced UN Security Council resolutions authorize such actions in order to fight terrorism.
     
  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    How would you feel if they authorized that in your country?
     
  12. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    If my country was in similar disarray, I would welcome it. But it isn't. Millions of Syrians have fled the country. Law and order needs to be restored and the terrorists need to be defeated in order to restore global security.
     
  13. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    With the help of Russia, Assad seems to be on the verge of doing that - but not what you intended, I think.
     
  14. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    I am of the opinion that Syria is in disarray because we bought and paid for mercenaries(moderate rebels) to create a rebellion/civil war.
    We did this at the behest of Sunni powers in the neighborhood, in part, due to our long term animosity with the main Shiite power in the neighborhood.

    I am of the opinion that this is substantially a Sunni x Shiite problem. I am neither, and do not wish to get involved in someone else's family squabble.
     
  15. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    This is, indeed, the greatest threat for peace: An aggression against Syria by Turkey. They have already attacked by artillery positions of the Syrian army, thus, the fact of a Turkish aggression is already there. The predictable scenario, which has been used in the Ukrainian civil war too: Escalation toward a war in small steps (Salami tactic). Syria will accept all this as long as it is on a small scale, but after enough escalation it has to defend itself, and then we have a war, Syria against Turkey, which may escalate into a war Russia against NATO.

    The only hope here is that Syria will be able to deescalate somehow. Turkish airforce will be shot if it appears over Syrian territory, Turkish army can be attacked if it enters Syrian territory, but Turkish artillery as long as it does not shoot in a too obvious and too destructive way may be ignored?
     
  16. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    No. The Syrian army is secular, but most of them are Sunni, see http://www.nationalinterest.org/feature/why-assads-army-has-not-defected-15190 The Kurds are secular, but a large majority there is Sunni. And the Alewites, which play some important role in the Syrian army, are not even really Shia.

    The religious subdivision is Wahabi against everything else.
     
  17. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Oh hogwash! You are pissed because Turkey shot down one of Mother Russia's warplanes and in doing so damaged your Russian ego. The Turkish army has already conducted attacks inside Syria (I.e. entered Syria). Per previous references, Turkey is authorized by the UN to enter Syria and to conduct attacks inside Syria.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
  18. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    On the verge.....? I don't think so. Most of the country remains in the hands of ISIS or other rebel groups. The US and others have been trying for some time to negotiate a peace in the region. Syria will never return to what it once was.

    Mother Russia's and Assad think they can with force of arms return Syria to its prewar state.
     
  19. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Regarding the Turkish artillery attacks, there are several contradicting news: One the one hand, it is now twittered that what was supposed to be a Turkish artillery attack in Latakia against the Syrian army was only fire from some rebel tank from somewhere close to the border. The tank is now destroyed.

    On the other hand, http://lifenews.ru/news/185132 claims that the Syrian side no longer ignores these Turkish artillery attacks and has started to counter them. I would hope that the recent video proof of the Turkish artillery attack on Syrian territory which the Russians had presented, was used to clarify via diplomatic channels what will be the NATO reaction of such counters, so that this will not lead to any heavy NATO reactions. That the US has openly called Turkey to stop this is also a sign that the US will not start a war simply because Turkey nonetheless continues and then receives the adequate answer from the Syrian side.

    But a full scale Turkish aggression against Syria, even without open NATO support, seems actually the greatest danger in the Syrian war.
     
  20. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Regarding the Saudi Arabian threats to attack Syria (under pretense to fight Daesh):

    The Iranian foreign minister names it "more of a propaganda slogan" writes http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2016/02/15/450395/Iran-Zarif-Brussels-Syria-EU-JCPOA/ Let's hope he is right, because everything else would be an escalation.

    Elijah J. Magnier thinks that it is more serious, and discusses in https://elijahjm.wordpress.com/2016...l-will-be-open-in-the-coming-months-in-syria/ following some source from the joint operations room in Damascus, three possibilities:

    1.) "The first is the Arab ground troops would enter Syria from the Turkish borders, in the area under the so-called “Islamic State” group (ISIS) on the long bordering front from Jarablus to Al-Ra’ee. This can be possible and quickly achievable if a kind of an agreement is reached between Turkey and ISIS. After all, the Jihadist group has to face either the Turkish-Arab forces – that could allow a possible exit – or the Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah forces where there will be no exit”."

    2.) “The second scenario is through the Jordanian borders East of Syria up to Raqqa. A longer road but would allow Saudi Arabia to bring its logistic and armoured support to push all the way to the ISIS-controlled land."

    3.) "The third scenario is that the Saudi are boosting the moral of the Jihadist by advertising a possible intervention so these don’t surrender easily and hold the ground for as long as possible."

    The aim does not seem to be a direct military confrontation with the Syrian army. The aim is different: "“The aim of the Arab forces is to divide Syria is two parts: “Gharbistan” (western) and “Sharqistan”(Eastern) similar to what happened in Berlin after World War II. In the first part, the Syrian army will continue fighting al-Qaeda and its allies with the support of Russia. While in the second part, the Arabs would establish their forces to impose a political change and could destabilise the regime."

    In other words, they would simply like to occupy the Syrian territory, using the circumstance that some part of it has been occupied by their own mercenaries.

    Actually, https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/turkey-transfers-500-islamists-to-northern-aleppo/ Turkey has transferred 500 Jihadists from Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group) and Faylaq Al-Sham (Al-Sham Corps) to travel from Idlib to Azaz through Turkist territory.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The Syrian Kurds seem to be doing better than the Syrian army north of Aleppo and are making significant gains. They seem to be advancing into Tal Ri'fat, pushing east from Menagh and are fighting the rebels just outside Azaz.

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/northern_aleppo_-_february_15_1.html

    Compare that to the situation a week ago:

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/northern_aleppo_-_february_8__.html

    The Kurds' gains clearly have the Turks upset.

    It looks like the Syrian army held the village of Kafr Naya, south of Tal Ri'fat about as of 2 am Monday Feb 15. The rebels may have counterattacked and dislodged them, and then the Kurds entered the town from the west and occupied it as of 2 pm Monday. At any rate, the Kurds seem to be there now and not the Syrian army which had been fighting in the area for days.

    Meanwhile the Syrian army efforts to encircle an Islamic State force east of Aleppo continues. They are expanding out of the Kuweires air base which they retook late last year. The ISIS fighters appear to be almost cut off.

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/eastern_aleppo_-_february_15__.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  22. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    How about using credible sources once in a while?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  23. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The 'rebels' in NE Latakia governate include ethnic Turkmen militias that are armed by Turkey and act as Turkish proxies. (They are the sweet-hearts who shot the downed Russian pilot a few weeks ago.) I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Turkish artillery was supporting them.

    The US doesn't want military adventurism by a NATO ally to drag the US into war. Especially when that war would threaten to put US forces into a confrontation with the Russians. So I'm sure that the US is counseling Ankara to cool it. I'm not sure how ready Erdogan is to listen.

    I agree. It is a growing possibility. If it comes, a great deal would depend on its scale and its objective.

    Would it just be intended to create a safe area near the border for the rebels? What if the Syrian army attacked it? What if the Russian air force flew air support? I can imagine Turkey and the Russians getting into air battles very easily. If the Russian airbase at Latakia was attacked by the Turks, would the Russians attack bases inside Turkey like Incerlik with their cruise missiles? Would Turkey start shrieking for NATO alliance support? What would the US do if that happened? I'm sure that Washington doesn't want to be pushed into the position of finding out.

    Would it be intended to destroy the Syrian Kurds? That might put Ankara onto a collision course with Washington, since the US seems to envision the Kurds serving as allied ground troops should any attempts to retake Islamic State territory ever come. It would also create an even worse humanitarian disaster, since Kurdish civilians would be displaced and they couldn't flee into Turkey if Turkey was the one attacking them. The Islamic state wouldn't be a good option. It could end up like Mt. Sinjar.

    Or would the Turks come in multi-division force with the objective of punching all the way through to Damascus, destroying the Syrian army (or what's left of it) and overthrowing the Syrian government? That would put them in the unpleasant position that the US found itself in Iraq after overthrowing Saddam Hussein: "You break it, you own it". If they tried to avoid a difficult occupation by installing a client-government of their choosing and then withdrawing, that would just create a power-vacuum into which the radical Islamists like Nusra Front, Jaish al Islam and Islamic State would immediately expand.

    My guess is that if Turkey intervenes, it would be a limited attack largely directed at the advancing Kurds, perhaps restricted to the Azaz and Tal Rif'at area. They might try to punch through a Turkish defended supply corridor to Aleppo as well. I don't expect them to directly confront the Islamic State which Turkey secretly kind of likes, since they are fellow Sunnis and allies in the larger Sunni-Shia conflict that shapes both Turkey's and (especially) Saudi Arabia's perceptions of the region. They would be more likely to want to overthrow the Alawite (heterodox Shi'ite) Assad, but might not want to commit themselves that deeply.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016

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