Military Events in Syria and Iraq thread #3

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Yazata, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    American lawmakers have introduced a Stop Arming Terrorists Act that aims to protect US taxpayers’ dollars from being spent on supporting and arming international terrorist groups through covert operations and third states.

    Introduced to the House by Democrat Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, the legislature aims to put an end to the widely-reported US practice of indirectly sponsoring terrorism. In particular, the act seeks to make it illegal for any US government agency to assist extremist groups directly or indirectly in any way shape or form, be it through the sale of weapons, field training, or intelligence assistance.

    “If you or I gave money, weapons or support to Al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the US government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of Al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government,” Gabbard said.

    The congress woman went on to accuse the CIA of providing weapons and money to terrorist groups all over the world through covert operations with the help of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, amongst others. She referred to recent articles by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to back up her claims.

    “The CIA has long been supporting a group called Fursan al Haqq, providing them with salaries, weapons and support, including surface to air missiles. This group is cooperating with and fighting alongside an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group trying to overthrow the Syrian government. The Levant Front is another so-called moderate umbrella group of Syrian opposition fighters. Over the past year, the United States has been working with Turkey to give this group intelligence support and other forms of military assistance. This group has joined forces with Al-Qaeda’s offshoot group in Syria,” she said

    meanwhile The US lets Daesh escape to fight in Syria.

    duh
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
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  3. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The advance toward Al Bab continues. The Syrian army has moved another 3-4 km along the M4 street and liberated there the village Al Madiuna. And, South of it, also the village Rasm Al Alam. The turks (or their rebels) have also taken their share and liberated two villages named Tal Rehal and Kharabisha.

    There are rumors that this is not a kind of race who takes what first, but based on an agreement between Russia and Turkey. According to this rumor, Al Bab would be left to the SAA. IMHO rumor only, but not that improbable, given that Erdogans main issue is to divide the two Kurdish enclaves, which would be reached anyway, because the main issue is that it is not the Kurds who take Al Bab. And, given the loss of a lot of Leo tanks, which is something very unfavorable about the abilities of the Turkish forces, and that there would follow more of this if they would use them in a town, the Turks may prefer not to take Al Bab. Whatever, we will see. It is also clear that Daesh will start serious defense only near Al Bab, so that these advances of 3/4 km a day are not a serious indication of their weakness.

    Small advances of the Syrian army in Deir Ezzor, which is good news, because a stabilization of the situation may already mean that the worst things are over. And with Daesh under attack at several fronts there is not much of reinforcements they can send to Deir Ezzor. Instead, the Syrian army has send some elite troops. Republican Guards, to Deir Ezzor as reinforcements. Notably forces able to attack, not only to defend.

    Another rumor is that Daesh has replaced in Syria some leading figures from Syria by foreigners. This can be considered as an indication that they have lost trust in those locals.
     
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The Turks and their local surrogates are performing a lot worse than expected. They have been parked outside al Bab for weeks, trying to take the town without success. Their rebel surrogates would push into al Bab and ISIS would promptly push then out again. That's happened over and over. So the Turks moved up Turkish regulars who took a hill overlooking al Bab, but ISIS pushed them off killing 14 Turkish soldiers in the process and capturing two. They burned the two they captured alive and live-streamed it.

    It makes one appreciate the fighting abilities of the Kurds, who faced similar ISIS defenses in Manbij.

    Turkey doesn't want the casualties that a direct Turkish assault into al Bab would cause, so they are apparently looking for somebody more competent than their "FSA" surrogates to attack the determined and well dug in ISIS defenders of the town. The Kurds are out of the question, since Turkey's whole reason for intervening was to keep the Kurds from linking their territories in north Syria. So the Turks seem to have invited the SAA to attack from the south. (The Syrian army is only about 10 km away.)

    The Turks have been very frustrated by the failure of their forces at al Bab. Recently they prohibited the US from launching air operations from the Incerlik airbase for about a day, blaming the US for not launching air strikes against ISIS in al Bab. This despite the Turkish air force being large (at least on paper), well equipped, and right next door. Erdogan's response to the recent Turkish coup attempt apparently did lots of damage to the Turkish air force, since a large fraction of pilots and technicians were arrested or dismissed. Currently they have more planes than they have pilots to fly them. Russia saw a vacuum they could occupy and launched a small number (3 is what I heard) of sorties attacking al Bab. The US is now attacking al Bab too, creating the first example in this war of US and Russian aircraft cooperating to attack the same targets.

    I'm not impressed by the Syrian advance at this point. They have occupied some villages to the west of al Bab, but this seems to be the result of ISIS pulling its increasingly exposed fighters out of them, perhaps to reinforce al Bab. Advance from the south hasn't progressed very far.

    http://www.edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_AlBab_January_23_2017.png

    But the idea seems to be for the Syrians and their Russian air support to come up from the south to attack al Bab, saving the Turks from having to do it, and saving Erdogan from having to announce more gruesome Turkish casualties on TV. The Syrian army is used to street-fighting and to taking lots of casualties, and Assad doesn't care about public opinion.

    Does this represent Turkey swerving away from its long-time support of the anti-Assad rebels towards alliance with Assad to confront the Kurds, something that I've been predicting will happen at some future point? Is that time now? If it is, it will completely change the Syrian civil war, since most of the rebels' outside support comes from (or through) Turkey. An anti-Kurd alliance with Assad will presumably end that, crushing the hopes of the rebel insurgency in Syria (except for ISIS, which is on the defensive).

    What's happening right now doesn't look like much, but if Turkey is truly changing sides, it could represent the beginning of Assad's victory in the Syrian civil war. It also suggests that once he is confident of Turkey's intentions, Assad will violate the cease-fire and attack the remaining increasingly isolated rebel enclaves in west Syria such as Idlib province, perhaps under the pretense of attacking the Nusra front.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
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  7. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Turkey has already changed sides. It was when Erdogan has made the apology to Putin for shooting the Russian plane. Which Putin has accepted, and when they have signed Turkstream (the replacement for Southstream which America has blocked via pressure on Bulgaria).

    This makes Turkey part of a pipeline to Europe. (The plans are made in such a way that, if the EU would really like it, they could get, yet, Southstream again. But, of course, only with much better conditions for Russia. We will see. With Trump, this may be a new possibility.)

    Whatever, Turkey is now or on Russian side, or at best neutral. The coup attempt has made this even more clear - after this, Erdogan became even openly anti-American, and I already thought if it is worth to bet that he will openly leave NATO. He did not, but for a price - American "support" for Euphrat shield, which was mainly an operation against the Kurds. Which are the only "boots on the ground" of the US.

    Changing sides was not easy for Erdogan, because it was clear that he had to give up his dreams about Syria. But, essentially, it was anyway already clear that he had to give them up. In fact, Euphrat shield was already a first step of giving up - because this operation was organized using many of the Turkish-paid terrorists from Idlib/Aleppo. And, therefore, essentially weakening them. I would not say it was decisive for the Aleppo battle, but it was certainly helpful. And Erdogan certainly helped during the last days of East Aleppo to negotiate the ceasefire and the transfer of the remaining fighters to Idlib.

    Whatever, the Russians clearly do not believe Erdogan. And they will be, therefore, very careful.

    There is no reason to be impressed by the Syrian army advances. It makes not much sense to advance faster, it is, instead, dangerous, because Daesh can start serious counterattacks at every moment. Better advancing slowly than taking many at the same day and then get high losses.
     
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I wasn't talking about the crazy attempts in both the US and Russian media to re-start a new Russia-US Cold War. I was talking about the Syrian Civil War. What's relevant there isn't Erdogan being friendlier with Putin, it's whether he ends Turkey's support for the Syrian rebels and starts cooperating with Assad's government there, in hopes of drawing Assad into a new stage of war against the Kurds.

    Turkey has traditionally seen itself as a leader of Sunni Islam. They even called themselves the 'Caliphate' (successors of the Prophet as leaders of all of Islam) up until 1920 or so. Assad is an Alawite, which is a small peculiar offshoot of Shia Islam. Assad has attracted the support of Iran, which sees itself as the leader of Shia Islam and of the currently ascendant Iraqi Shiites. Turkey was hugely concerned, since they saw a Shiite crescent forming from Iran all the way to the Mediterranean, so they armed and supported the Syrian rebels, who represented Syria's Sunni Arab majority. That's why Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been funding and arming the rebels. (Saudi is another would-be leader of Sunni Islam. Their claim is based on their control of Mecca and Medina and on their Wahabi theology.)

    Internationally, that's the primary dynamic that's driving the Syrian Civil War, or at least the participation of outside countries in it.

    Domestically, inside Syria, there's a lot of ethnic tribalism, with Arabs facing off against Kurds. There's religious factionalism, as the Sunni majority resents rule by the Assad dynasty, which favors the minority Alawites. And there's a variety of other religious minorities like the numerous Arab Christians, who tend to support Assad since he runs an ostensibly secular regime and protects them against the Sunnis. The non-Alawite Shiites and the Druze support Assad as well for the same reasons.

    And there's the fact that since the Assad dictatorship is ostensibly secular and modernist, secularism and modernism have been discredited in the eyes of many Sunnis who are victims of the regime, who have had fathers and brothers disappeared into Assad's terrible prisons. What many people in Syria long for most is moral leadership, and since civil society has been discredited in their eyes, the alternative is religious leadership. So the Syrian Sunnis overwhelmingly support a return to Shariah law and the imposition of religious courts run by Islamic jurists. The only way to have moral government is to turn away from rule by corrupt men and return to Islam's submission to the will of God. That's why radical Islamism is so prevalent among the Syrian rebels.

    That's the situation. The US, Russia and the hostility that many less-intelligent people want those two countries to still have (as if the US-Russia relationship is a zero-sum game and last century's Cold War is the only model they can think of) are kind of irrelevant to the whole Syrian dynamic, except as Russia and the US serve as outside suppliers of military force that might conceivably tip things for one local side or another.

    So, if Turkey is no longer as concerned by the Sunni-Shiite rivalry as they are by suppressing the Kurds, the whole order-of-battle and dynamic of forces inside Syria shifts. That's why the battle of al Bab is so relevant to the future of Syria and why the SAA's advance northwards to block the SDF's advance eastward out of Afrin is so significant. Is Turkey going to become a new ally of Assad and vice-versa? Is Assad going to toss aside his de-facto alliance with the SDF? Is Turkey going to stop funding and supplying the rebels? Will Turkey block Saudi and Qatari support for the rebels channeled through the Turkish border?

    If the current endless stalemate in Syria is ever going to change, that is what would do it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    If you are in USA
    contact your representative and ask him/her to support:
    H.R.258 - To prohibit the use of United States Government funds to provide assistance to Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to countries supporting those organizations, and for other purposes.

    They ain't yet voted:
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/258

    It seems stuck in committee.
     
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  10. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The information about taking Maduona yesterday was premature, it looks like it has not been taken yet. More interesting is another contradiction between the information given yesterday and some actual information:
    contradicts
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-arab-army-captures-key-towns-eastern-aleppo-cs-isis/
    So, the same place which was claimed to be liberated by the Turks yesterday is today claimed to be liberated by SAA. Above times from Daesh. Nobody mentioning any conflict between Turks and SAA. This may be, of course, simply a misinformation. Shit happens. But it may be, at the same time, the result of an agreement between Turks and SAA about the line of control, where above are allowed to fight Daesh even beyond the line, but if one takes something beyond the line from Daesh, then only to give it, later to the other side.

    The map of this advances is interesting too:

    because it seems to support my hypothesis that one of the aims of this action is to reduce the length of the front line.

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    PS: According to https://twitter.com/NatDefFor/status/823949870620934146 the other village, Kharbasha, which was yesterday attributed to the Turks is also liberated today, independently, by the SAA. Moreover, at the South, the black dot near Rasm al Alam, the village Mushayrafa, has been taken too. So, there are advances on a quite broad front.

    Back to Yazata's text, I would doubt that secularism and modernism are now discredited in Syria. If, then only in its Western variant. The non-Sunni need it to survive, the non-Wahabi Sunnis have now received some impression how one lives under Wahabi (Jihadi) rule, and the result is not really in favor of Wahabi rule.

    Then, from the Syrian side this is definitely not a religious war. There are a lot of big propaganda posters in Syria showing as the leaders Assad (Alewite), Nazralah (Shia, from Hisbolla) and Putin (orthodox Christian) as united. In this sense, Russia is, despite being a Christian power, more than an outside supplier. (Moreover, it is not only Christian, and shows this. There is Chechen, that means Sufi (Sunni) military police now in Aleppo to help to preserve order.)

    I would not say that the move of SAA toward Al Bab has the aim to block YPG. The Syrian army does not care about this much - this would be more a Turkish problem than a Syrian one, at least for some time. But the Kurds have recognized themselves that they are not strong enough to fight the Turks. The Afrin Kurds (but not the Manbidsh SDF) have got support from Russia in so far as Turkey should not attack them. This was real, supported by artillery support by the Syrian army after some pro-Turkish rebels attacked the Kurds. But, obviously, also in exchange for the Kurds not attacking the Turks. It is also known that some of the rebels wanted to attack the Kurds much more, up to attacking Aleppo, but have, then, decided otherwise, clearly after getting different orders from Turkey.

    So, around the Afrin enclave there is more or less peace. With Assad being, in case of problems, more on the Afrin Kurds side. If Russia or Syria care about Turkish conflicts with the Manbidsh Kurds is a completely different question, actually I doubt.

    Essentially, Turkey and Syria they are already allies - at least half-officially. In official Turkish propaganda, there is, yet, Assad must go. And it is clear that these new allies do not trust each other at all. It is, in particular, not clear how much Turkish support is there, yet, for the terrorists in Idlib.

    Actually there is in Idlib terrorist infight. Achrar al Sham against Al Qaida seems to be the subdivision. This may become what was always the Russian request to America - to provide a clear subdivision of their "moderate rebels" from Al Qaida. Of course, in this fight I wish a lot of success, killing a lot of their enemies, to above sides.
     
  11. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Nothing serious happened, small advances near Palmyra, also in Deir Ezzor, but the details are too small to be mentioned. The actual situation in Deir Ezzor is, yet, very serious, but not catastrophic:

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    The map seems to be accurate in what I have heard from different sources - there is no clear cut between the two parts controlled by Daesh, but also no free way, but at least fire control over parts of the way by Dash. But the big Daesh offensive seems finished, to start a new one they would need more reinforcements, and it does not look like they have them. Once they are appear unable to reinforce, the reestablishment of the connection looks like a question of time.
     
  12. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The Syrian army has now officially taken control of the springs which are necessary for giving water for Damascus. Not clear yet how long they need to repair the water lines to Damascus, but now they can, at least, start.

    Three villages liberated by the Syrian Army from Daesh near Al Bab:

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    First, An Jahsh was taken, then Brij (marked with dots). Which was the situation on the map. Then there is also information that Sheikh Dan, West of these villages, has been taken too. So, something new, now advances also from the South of Al Bab.

    A good day also near Palmyra.
     
  13. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Good news today. Near Al Bab, the Syrian army has liberated the village Tuman. Advances also near Palmyra, where an abandoned base has been taken, and in East Ghouta, where were is ongoing fighting in the village Hawsh Al-Salihyah which, if taken, would lead to encirclement of the area around the small town Al-Nashabiyah. Only the situation around Deir Ezzor remains problematic, Daesh is yet attacking, but an attack today has been repelled.

    Wadi Barada is now officially declared to be under control of the Syrian army, the evacuation of the fighters to Idlib is not yet finished but has already started.
     
  14. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Today Daesh has started a counterattack along M4 road to Al Bab, but without success, they were unable to take Madiuneh. If Touman was really taken yesterday or not remains unclear. The Syrian army attacked at another place, at the East, and has taken the village Rasm as Sirhan.

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    More interesting is that the Syrian army has started to attack South of Deir Hafer, and taken the village Qatbiah. To liberate this Southern flank makes sense if one aims to attack, in some future, Deir Hafer.
     
  15. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Hmm....and just what makes you believe the US government is spending funds to provide assistance to al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant? Please do be specific and use credible sources? Do you think dropping bombs on those organizations in 4 different countries, directly attacking those organizations with American troops, and aiding and training the enemies of those organizations amounts to funding those organizations? Seriously....are you that deluded?
     
  16. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    That was a week ago, and nothing big seems to changed. The Syrian army isn't really moving towards Al Bab and the Turks haven't made any progress in attacking it. They still haven't even been able to capture nearby Qabasin where ISIS has stubbornly been holding out.

    http://www.edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_AlBab_February_1_2017.png
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
  17. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    I would not say that nothing has changed. The Syrian army typically advances only slowly. One village a day is fast. They have taken, over the last weeks, a quite large piece on the way toward Al Bab:

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    During the last few days Daesh has started to counterattack. Which is what was expected, and one of the reasons for advancing slowly - they are aware of the danger of such counterattacks and prepare themselves for them. If Daesh is attacking, this is fine, because it leads to higher losses on their side. There is no reason to hurry.

    There are advances in Deir Ezzor, the complete siege of the airport is finished, but there is yet Daesh fire control over the road to the airport. Near Palmyra also several villages have been taken, as well as the Jihar crossroad.
     
  18. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    A greater success of the Syrian army on their way to Al Bab: The town A'ran has been taken.

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    It was described as well-fortified by Daesh, a complex defense line.
     
  19. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    It's starting to look as if the Turks and the Syrian army may be trying to join up east of al Bab, the large town that the "FSA" backed up by the Turks have found impossible to take so far. Maybe they plan to surround and besiege it, ultimately starving ISIS out. It's unknown how many civilians remain there.

    http://www.edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_AlBab_February_4_2017.png
     
  20. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Looks indeed like they try to surround Al Bab. At least, they have cut today another supply route by taking the village Ayosha East of Arran. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/exclusive-syrian-army-inches-closer-isis-stronghold-al-bab-map/

    On the other hand, it is also splitting the forces in Al Bab from Deir Hafer, which seems to be another target of the Syrian army. Essentially, Al Bab can be left to the Turks, it does not really play a strategic role for the Syrian army, but much more for the Turks, as the key town of splitting the two Kurdish parts.

    An indication that Deir Hafer is the aim is that the Syrian army has also taken a village South of Deir Hafer, Um Arkilah:

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    Other news are also fine, advances as in Deir Ezzor, as near Palmyra, in particular near Palmyra some holms have been taken which give fire control over some gas fields.
     
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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  22. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Here something which I would usually dispose as war propaganda if given by an openly pro-Russian site, but I don't know anything about that "Irish Sun", so decide yourself if you want to take this seriously or not:
    https://www.thesun.ie/news/530737/t...fore-aleppo-was-overrun-by-government-troops/

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    PS: Al Bab seems to be encircled: http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/02/06/509364/Syrian-army-besieges-Daesh-Bab
    PPS: But if there is a real encirclement or yet only fire control is not clear, here is an actual map which claims that there is yet some space for Daesh to run away:

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    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
  23. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    It will be interesting to see what they decide to do.

    Will they fight to the death? (That's their style.) Or will order the evacuation of their forces, in order to save the fighters that are in danger of being trapped in the pocket? Daesh doesn't have an unlimited supply of trained and capable fighters.
     

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