What's new in Syria

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Schmelzer, Dec 13, 2015.

  1. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Given that one can expect that there will happen a lot of things, it seems worth to start a thread about this.

    Today not much has happened, Banes, a small village SW of Aleppo, has been captured by the syrian army (SAA), but this village has already been taken and retaken during the last time, so that does not mean much. It is important, because it is quite close to the M5 highway Homs-Aleppo which is claimed to play an important role for the rebels.

    Yesterday, nearby even 5 villages have been captured by the SAA, and two hilltops in Latakia. What is more important for the Syrians is that now their highway Nr. 1 from Latakia to the Turkish border has been reopened - it seems, it is no longer endangered by the terrorists. It was closed over a long time.
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  3. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

    This is all wonderful news comrade, the war should be over and ISIS in smouldering ruins within just a few more weeks. I'm only wondering if you can tell us when the 4 million+ refugees get to return safely to their homes, and whether this happens before or after the first nukes are dropped on eastern Aleppo and Idlib.
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  5. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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  7. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    I expect this needs much more time than just a few weeks. One may, of course, hope that if the actual small progress continues over a longer period, that the morals of the terrorists go down and after some time the front collapses. But this is not more than hope, wishful thinking. One should not forget that the core of IS and Al Qaida are fanatics, and fanatics can fight in a fanatical way up to the end. This is known from Nazi Germany even for people who don't hope for the nice promises given for martyrs after their death in Islam.

    And, of course, nobody plans to use nukes there. But you know this yourself.
  8. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    On a by some (unknown) state controlled site named twitter I have read that the Syrian army has taken full control of Marj Al-Sultan near Damascus.

    If correct, this is an important success for Assad, the Syrian army has tried to reach this, with a lot of small advances, over a long time. But it remains a small one. Looking at the map, one can count some 12 or so towns of comparable size in that area, together with the much greater parts of Eastern Damascus itself. So, certainly not a matter of weeks, but months, if not years. If taking the airbase gives more than prestige is hard to estimate, to use it as an airbase would at least require to secure some larger environment, so that it cannot be attacked by mortars.

    In Daraa, there is also some progress, but inside a town, this progress means "capturing as many as six building blocks" http://www.almasdarnews.com/article...-they-approach-the-jordanian-border-crossing/ thus, not really impressive too. But it is also progress in a direction which may be not unimportant: It is toward a border crossing to Jordania, which is used to support the terrorists with weapons. If this would matter, or if, if this happens, the terrorists would simply use other ways through the desert instead of border crossings, is an interesting question.

    Some interesting news from Yemen. There seems to be a rocket attack against the Saudi coalition (headquarters of the Saudi military command in the southwestern province of Taiz) with a lot of victims http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/20731/ The other news is a ceasefire started today: http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/20735/ It is only for one week, for some UN peace talks in Geneva.

    The Yemen war is interesting because it is, in some aspects, a mirror image of the Syrian situation. Also a civil war, also a president which did not rule over large parts of the territory, also a larger power which supports this president with air attacks, and, even more, with troops. The big difference is that in this war, after some serious losses after the beginning of the Saudi airforce war, the picture has changed now, and the Houti insurgents are on the winning side. They have even be successful attacking Saudi-Arab territory.

    An interesting question is if (and how much) the Houtis are supported from the outside. Iran is an obvious suspect, because the Houtis are Shia. But I have seen even speculations that Russia is giving hidden support. But, on the one hand, this support would be much more difficult in comparison with Turkish, Jordanian and Saudi-Arabian support through the IS- and Qaida-controlled borders, because there are no borders with allied countries. And, second, there is no real evidence for this. So, even if one would assume that the Russians are much more clever hiding such support, it could not be really large. That means, airforce, even if combined with ground forces, are not sufficient to win a civil war, even if the rebels are not (at least not heavily) supported with weapons from outside.
  9. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

    Ok then, what's the time frame? How is progress towards democracy and counter-terrorism supposed to be objectively measured and assessed? Progress should mean less refugees, not more.

    You can't eat Qurans, nor do they function well as bulletproof vests. ISIS is openly buying and selling assets and trading with the regime Putin currently supports, and meanwhile that regime only attacks ISIS when it threatens core government assets. Why are ISIS and Al Qaeda the names you constantly drop as enemies, when Russian airstrikes result in them taking ground from other rebels far more often than they lose it?

    How would I know what anyone actually plans to do with their nukes? Why would a plan be needed prior to their usage? All I know is that Russia's politicians and media are talking more and more every day about their nuclear "deterrent" and its expansion, as well as an ever-increasing list of hypothetical situations where they'd potentially be deployed. The lists of "acceptable" military targets and refugees created in Syria are expanded every week, as are the range and quantity of munitions supplied to and employed on Bashar Assad's behalf. Extrapolating directly from the Chechen experience which you yourself have unambiguously endorsed, along with virtually all past conflicts modern Russia has ever been involved in, the tactic is obviously to escalate the levels of force used until, if necessary, entire populations are replaced with foreign communities more loyal to Putin's chosen puppets.

    In some ways, I'd love for Putin to troll the US even harder, until the noise is blasting Obama's eardrums in and he simply has no choice left but to make a painful decision and actually stick with it. What if Putin simply blows eastern Aleppo and every other rebel bastion into smithereens along with the millions still living there; what's Obama going to do about it that he isn't already trying to do? Putin doesn't even need to use nukes, he can afford to carpet bomb Syria off the map with conventional explosives long before Russia goes into national bankruptcy. What if Putin eventually tires of playing games and really does go for the nuclear option, perhaps in a smaller "tactical" format; will Obama be any less afraid of trading New York for Moscow than he was the day before? Neville Chamberlain could have at least argued that Britain simply wasn't ready for war in time for Hitler's opening shots, Obama doesn't have that excuse. Western Europe spent decades complaining about America's domination of its foreign policy, yet now they do absolutely nothing with the ball when it's passed to them other than dementedly wishing it through the hoop, while millions of alienated refugees pound at their doors.
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    The Syrian government needs the Homs-Aleppo highway in order to properly supply their positions in the Aleppo area. As long as the 'rebels' keep it severed, the Syrian army in Aleppo must be supplied largely by air. (I gather that there are still ground routes in, but the are circuitous and dangerous.)

    I believe that close to the border the rebels are still just east of the road. So traffic could still come under fire. Of course that road is largely symbolic, since I don't imagine that much traffic passes between the government controlled Syrian coast and Turkey, which is actively arming and supporting rebel factions that have announced their intention to conquer the Syrian coast.

    I believe that both the Syrian army and Russian air support have been trying to weaken the rebels in the hills to the east of the road to prevent that promised attack. The Russian fighter that the Turks shot down was engaged in airstrikes against those positions.

    It's dangerous though, since the rebels in that area are often located within a short distance of the Turkish border and Turkey might decide to send its own troops across if its proxies are threatened.
  11. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Years, if it goes nice many months. There is, of course, always a possibility of collapse of some terrorist groups, the possibility that some of its external supporters stop to pay them, or that some smaller, non-islamistic groups simply switch sides, which may increase the speed. But, given the great number of different groups and outside supporters, such events may change very fast the situation in some areas, not everywhere.

    Progress toward democracy is something I couldn't care less, but it is quite clear that there will be elections after IS and Al Qaida are finished. That there will be some strong Kurdish autonomy is also clear. What I care for is that they can live in peace in a secular environment. This is something Assad as well as the Kurds can provide. If what goes on now continues, then those who live in Assad-controlled areas will have no reason to emigrate. These are quite a lot of people. Those who have run away into these from Assad controlled areas can return to their homes after they become controlled by Assad.

    What has happened in Waer is something which can be a model for many non-islamistic or even islamistic rebel-controlled regions. The part of Homs is now controlled by the Syrian army, around 2000 (or was it 3000) local fighters have stopped armed resistance, they have returned their weapons and can stay there, some 300 or so with 450 or so family members have moved to Idlib, the fighters even with light weapons.
    I see no reason to believe claims that Assad is trading with the IS. There is some agreement about electricity in Aleppo, where IS controls the power station, and there was an agreement that electricity goes to all parts of Aleppo, therefore nobody destroys the power station. This was discussed in the media after the US has hit this power station and all of Aleppo was without electricity. I would guess there are also payments for electricity. That most of the oil goes to Turkey not a secret. Of course, Erdogan denies that his son controls this business and cries "Assad is doing this [too]", but who believes him?

    The main areas of fight actually are Latakia - against a mixture of Nusra, Turkish fascists (grey wolves), a lot of Chechen fighters and other foreigners as well as some locals, Southern Aleppo against another mixture, Eastern Aleppo against IS, Palmyra/Qaratain/Maheen against IS, and in the other parts against other mixtures of local groups, Nusra, IS and guys supported from Jordania and Israel. The two names I drop because they are known as the strongest and most powerful players. The Russian airstrikes are, of course, most important where there are also troops on the ground, and in the mentioned areas, where Assad fights on the ground with IS, the Russian air support plays a big role. Recently there have been also some Russian airstrikes coordinated with some FSA against IS. But this does not mean that Russian now supports FSA, because FSA is simply a label of all those who want money from the West, and cooperation with them against IS or not is something which has to be clarified with each of the groups which use the label separately.
    I don't know this. The main situation where they will be deployed is the second strike after a NATO first strike. And, of course, Russia does everything it can to show the US that it has the ability for a powerful second strike. The second situation is a conventional war with Russia loosing it.
    The first part sounds like propaganda. That Assad gets better weapons makes sense, if one wants to make him win the war against terrorism.
    I would never endorse a war like the Chechen one as presented in Western media, the point is that I don't believe them. What I endorse was that Putin has, in the second Chechen war, unified with the traditional Chechens, which are Sufi, against the terrorist fraction which was Saudi-supported and Wahabi. Now, Chechens are tough guys, not really islamistic fanatics (Sufism is a quite peaceful variant of the Islam) but with blood revenge as their traditional law, which not even Stalin was able to break, so, one should not expect that such a fight follows European human rights charters, with or without Putin.
    Entire populations replaced? Yes, this happened in the first Chechen war, with all the Russians living in Chechnya killed or chased away. Chechnya is today ethnically very homogeneous, purely Chechen.
    Why would Putin do such stupid and horrible things? The optimal scenario for Putin is clear: Permanent progress of Assads and Kurdish forces, the Wahabis will be killed, moderates (as far as they exist at all) switch sides or lay their weapons down.
    The EU has no own politics, this is a structure useful for the US to manage their de-facto colonial rule over Europe.
  12. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

    So in other words, there's no measure for how the war progresses, it simply continues until there's no Syria left, and then Putin declares victory while riding bare-chested on a sedated tiger.

    Will those "elections" be supervised by representatives from the other rebel groups, as well as representatives from the international community in general?

    I thought you just said you didn't care about democracy? Also please elaborate on how the US rules Europe in a colonial style, i.e. what happens to Portugal if it decides to leave NATO?

    Would you agree with UN supervision of all these refugees returning to their homes without beatings and other retaliation from Assad's army, while they prepare to participate in the supposedly upcoming elections?

    I would guess that you deliberately ignore your own logic in order to avoid admitting the obvious.

    I think you draw a fitting comparison; I say both Putin and Erdogan deserve to go on trial, and both had more than enough of a rapsheet to deserve this even before 2011. Regardless of what most Russians themselves believe, I don't think the world as a whole should allow Turkey's interference in Syria to be used as an excuse for what Putin's doing there, in the way that dictators used to trade war crimes in the past.

    Ok, so you're saying that anything not involving Putin getting his way 100% of the time will end with a nuclear exchange. Why then do you think a tactical nuclear strike inside Syria, or a carpet bombing campaign with comparably destructive force, would be out of the question? Assad and his allies don't have enough ground troops to hold all of Syria simultaneously (as he himself has already admitted), which means there either has to be a lasting partition of the country, or else the outright ethnic cleansing of the Sunni community which overwhelmingly opposes him.

    So you deny that the numbers of Russian troops and amounts of Russian equipment stationed in Syria have been steadily rising every week?

    It also makes sense, if one wants him to win the war against democracy, or if he wants terrorists to benefit from his strikes on the FSA.

    Was it Chechen fighters, or Russia's own aircraft and shelling that killed more ethnic Russians in that war?

    In your definitions, it seems that one can't oppose Putin and still be defined as Chechen, even if they were born on that land.

    You just said that Putin would resort to nuclear weapons or some similar "deterrent" if he were perceived as losing in a conventional war. If this thing runs on for a few more years, and you consider the Vietnam and Soviet Afghan wars to be losses like most people do, then the lack of clear, measurable progress in this one would be considered a loss as well.
  13. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    BTW, found an article with claims of FSA near collapse, http://www.stripes.com/news/us-backed-syrian-rebel-group-on-verge-of-collapse-1.383853 but I doubt it is reliable. An interesting claim is that the FSA is that weak because they pay much less in comparison with Nusra (Al Qaida). Given that all these gangs are paid from outside, the question is who pays al Nusra more than FSA, and why? Ok, there is also the (quite typical for US investments) possibility that FSA gets much more money, but is much more corrupt. Not that implausible given that religious fanatism may lead to less corruption.

    No, the other route is safe. It was attacked, in a coordinated action between the "moderate rebels" and the IS, with the result that it was closed for around two weeks. To control Homs-Aleppo would be, of course, nice, but this needs a very long time. (If this is reached, you can say that Assad has almost won the war, at least in the Northern part.)

    Maybe. The maps I see about this region seem completely off, disagree with each other heavily. The army tries to control first of all hills, and, of course, secure save supply lines to these hills. My guess is that they have even left some villages in their backs uncontrolled, simply because there remained only local guys defending their own village, following the rule if they don't attack they will not be attacked. And now imagine the poor guys who have to draw a map, based on information of type "this village/hilltop has been taken" ...
    First of all, this region was endangering Latakia, including the Russian base. Then, the Turkish border under rebel control means Turkish supply, with weapons and fighters. And, because of the local geography (woodland, mountains) it seems impossible to prevent this from the air only. Then, there are a lot of Chechen and other Russian speaking guys there, which are a main target of the Russians. So, it makes a lot of sense to attack this area first.
  14. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Good news from Syria: Syrian Army, Hezbollah Capture Khan Touman, is claimed by http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000703 as well as http://www.almasdarnews.com/article...after-seizing-khan-touman-in-southern-aleppo/

    This town was a main stronghold of Jeish al-Fatah, but fight was also with Jabhat Al-Nusra (the Syrian Al-Qaeda group) and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, the usual mix of various islamistic terrorists. If some NATO propagandists like to name them "moderate" I don't know. It was under attack already quite a long time, and that it has been taken now is therefore also an important moral victory, it shows that even strong and persistent resistance of the terrorists can be broken.

    Khan Touman is located near the M5 highway Aleppo-Homs, which has also been cut now. This makes the supplies for the rebels a little bit more complicate, but I doubt this is really a decisive problem. Before capturing Khan Touman, also the town Al Qarassi East of Khan Touman has been captured, so that now there is on the first 20 km from Aleppo on East side of the M5 no big village left under control of terrorists.

    On the other frontlines, there has been also reached some progress in Latakia - as usual in that mountain region, not a really big one, even if the village taken by the Syrian army is named "Kebir" (which means Big). https://twitter.com/sayed_ridha/status/678549210136862720 There seems to be also some progress of taking control over the Turkish border in Latakia - some hills have been taken near or even on the border (not clear), claims http://www.almasdarnews.com/article...oints-along-the-border-with-northern-latakia/

    Found a very interesting article http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/seymour-m-hersh/military-to-military with interesting admission about who supports Al Qaida and the IS:

  15. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    US+Saudi: ...reminds me of:
    You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  16. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Russia + Putin: You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
  17. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Here is an interesting article about S-300 and S-400, which are now deployed in Syria.

    Of course, as a layman one cannot really know if this is serious or an attempt of the aircraft lobby to get orders of their latest jets.
  18. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

    Stealth is only one of dozens of tools in the box. Even in the 1991 Gulf War it didn't mean US planes were completely invisible, it just meant they were able to fly through weak points in Iraq's radar coverage and avoid being detected or precisely targeted until well after they'd completed their missions and returned home. If the US were expecting a war with Russia, the S-300's and S-400's would be hit with radiation-seeking missiles long before any planes attempted to challenge them in close protximity.
  19. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    It appears that a Russian airstrike has killed the leader of Jaish al Islam (Arabic for 'Army of Islam'), who was apparently located in al Ghoush, a rebel occupied eastern suburb of Damascus.


    This is very good news in my opinion, since Jaish al Islam is a thoroughly unsavory organization, fighting to enforce Shariah law and to rid Syria of all non-Sunnis. It's accused of at least one massacre in which non-Sunni residents of a captured town were shot and/or decapitated and it's accused of using caged captives as human shields. Jaish al Islam is reportedly one of the largest non-ISIS rebel groups and is very active fighting the Syrian army around Damascus.


    Congratulations, Russia! Good work.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015
    sculptor likes this.
  20. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Yes, congratulations, judging from the reactions, this was indeed an important guy, powerful in East Ghouta and quite radical. And killed together with a lot of other local leaders. So one can hope that this leads to some internal fighting for power.

    There has been another good news from Damask, a southern district gives up on similar conditions as Al Waer in Homs, with the terrorists from Al Nusra and ISIS who don't want to give up transported with families in buses to Idlib or Raqqa, and the whole district as well as heavy weapons going over to the Syrian army. Around 4000 people (including civilians) will be transferred. How many of the fighters simply give up is not told. https://twitter.com/Ald_Aba/status/679982576623325184 https://twitter.com/sayed_ridha/status/680066664289812480

    One may argue that all those fighers transported to Idlib and Raqqa will continue to fight, so that such agreements are not really good. But in Waer the number of fighers who have given up to fight and allowed to stay was reported to be much higher than the fighters driving away, some 2000 to 800 or so I have seen. So that I would expect here a lot of fighters returning to civil life too. Moreover, this is part of a town, where fighting is hard and necessarily leads to large numbers of civilian victims, while in other regions most fights are outside of towns.
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Here's the guy killed in the Russian air-strike.


    He appears to be a real sweetie. Significantly, he was trained in Shariah law at the Islamic University of Medinah, where he earned a masters degree. The Saudis often turn up funding and promoting radical Salafist Wahabi-style Islam all around the world, pouring in money to build grand mosques in Western capitals and supplying the radical imams to preach in them.

    It looks like Zahran Alloush was a major force behind the Syrian Islamic Front, the umbrella organization seeking to organize most of the larger Islamist rebel groups in Syria.

    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015
  22. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Not sure if completely reliable, but there are claims already from various sources that the Kurds have already taken the Tishrim dam.
    https://twitter.com/CizireCanton/status/680749033149861889 claims #SDF units now fully secure #Tishrin Dam. http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941005001442 also claims full control.
    https://twitter.com/sayed_ridha/status/680740163220144128 gives even pictures, even if only from the Eastern side. Congratulations!!!

    At least they seem to be already very close, judging from the video https://twitter.com/yunus4akca7/status/680755153952227328

    There also seems to be a lot of progress in Ramadi.
  23. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    I read that "#SDF have advanced 2km west of Tishreen Dam and has reportedly taken control of Housing Departments & Tishreen town W/NW of the dam" https://twitter.com/sayed_ridha/status/681061943419928579

    I think this is worth a separate post, because it means they have crossed Erdogan's red line. And it also means that they really control the dam, not only some parts of it, and really have the ability to cross this line. If correct (but I seen not much reason not to trust Sayed Ridha, and http://isis.liveuamap.com/en/2015/27-december-ypg-advances-in-tishrin-town- give some independent support) this would be really important - the IS would be faced with two, if not three, fronts: Syrian army from Kuweiris (they have advanced today too), and the Kurds from the West bank of the Euphrat (and possibly even Al Nusra and friends from Azaz).

    Moreover, IS has stress near Maheen too. They have had some success there a week ago, retaking Maheen with a strong reinforcement. But now they seem to loose again. So, given this and their low resistance against the Kurdish attack, it may be that they are overstretched and have not much left to add.

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