Syrian war thread - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

Wandering the information superhighway, he came upon the last refuge of civilization, PoFo, the only forum on the internet ...

Political issues and parties in the nations of the Middle East.

Moderator: PoFo Middle-East Mods

Forum rules: No one line posts please. This is an international political discussion forum moderated in English, so please post in English only. Thank you.
User avatar
By roxunreal
#14555294
With the relatively recent fall of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughur, rebel gains and losses in the south, as well as the government's apparent stalling in and around Aleppo, I do think a general thread about the progress of the Syrian war is lacking. We could use a dedicated thread for posting news and developments concerning Syria's war that may be of interest but not major enough to warrant a Today's News thread, and for discussions about the war in general, something like the IS thread we have in this sub-forum or the Ukraine thread we have in the Europe forum.

Recent things of note:

Unprecedented fighting between the SAA and pro-Assad militia NDF in Homs:
https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/NewsReports ... ia-in-homs

Supposedly a coalition of Islamist rebel factions in Aleppo declared war on the YPG forces controlling the Sheikh Maqsood district of the city, info is sketchy and unconfirmed:
https://www.reddit.com/r/syriancivilwar ... on_ypg_in/

Hezbollah and the SAA apparently decided to cut off rather than waste resources on assaulting the remainder of Al-Nusra/ISIS/the rebels in Qalamoun:
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebano ... d-out.ashx

Meanwhile the rebels have announced a Qalamoun offensive ( )
http://eaworldview.com/2015/05/syria-da ... se-border/

Also significant battles are going on near Furaykah/Frikka, south-east of Jisr al-Shughur, as the government is attempting to recapture the town.


In any case this war is and has been for a while a massively slow battle of attrition, it takes both the government and the rebels a very long time to muster enough men and/or resources to make gains of a few hundred meters or a few kilometers, and the recent rebel gains in the south-west and north-west are conveniently in places nearby favorable borders and with somewhat secure supply lines. I do believe that the side that is able to scrape for more men and materiel from sources both within and outside of Syria will be the one that will make further gains of significance, as currently everything is in almost rock-solid limbo and it appears no side can spare even a hundred men elsewhere. If anyone could manage for an extra 1000-2000 armed and experienced fighters to fall from the sky they could probably take something very significant near the front, but it appears that arranging people and/or guns like that is now harder than ever, for both sides. I also suppose that we may even see a reversal of the tide in and around Aleppo soon, in the rebel's favor, but don't quote me on that. I do actually root for the SAA to relieve the siege of Nubl and Zahra so the civilian population there can leave if they wish to do so.
User avatar
By roxunreal
#14556735
This is at the moment easily the hotbed of intense fighting in Syria, as pro-Assad forces are attempting to reach and relieve the besieged ~250 troops in Jisr Ash-Shughur's hospital and retake the strategic town. Rebels are also attempting to close in on Ariha. Lots of casualties on both sides, no side has significant momentum currently.

Image
User avatar
By roxunreal
#14558721
Jesus Christ, compare the above to the situation now:

Image

The SAA routed and Mastouma and the massive military base south of it have been taken by Al-Nusra et al. The battle for Ariha is imminent, the only question is will the SAA withdraw or stay and risk besiegement. A total collapse of the government's Idleb salient would be a priceless strategic victory for the rebels allowing them to solidify and shorten the front and divert manpower to other battles.

Of course these maps should always be taken with a grain of salt, but this particular author seems to be pretty accurate in depicting the situation in this time and area when checked against other reports.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/m ... ouma-idlib
[b]Al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra Front announces Mastouma’s capture, which leaves only a few positions in regime hands in Idlib province[/b]

Rebels including al-Qaida’s local affiliate have seized the Syrian regime’s largest remaining military base in north-western Idlib province, a monitor said.

The loss of Mastouma base on Tuesday leaves only a few positions in the province in regime hands, which lies along the border with Turkey and neighbours the government stronghold of Latakia province on the Mediterranean coast.

“All regime forces have withdrawn from Mastouma, the largest regime base in Idlib, leaving it completely in the hands of opposition fighters,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP. He said the capture of the base followed a huge blast inside and heavy clashes, though the cause of the explosion was not immediately clear.

Al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra Front, a key player in the “Army of Conquest” grouping that has seized much of Idlib in recent weeks, announced Mastouma’s capture online. “With the help of God, Al-Mastumah was completely liberated after al-Nusra Front stormed it from the south,” al-Nusra said on its official Twitter account.

Abdel Rahman said regime troops withdrawing from the base were moving towards Ariha, now one of the last government bastions in Idlib. State television said the army was “taking defensive positions” outside Ariha, implying that army units had withdrawn from Mastouma itself.

The base’s capture comes after the rebel grouping, known in Arabic as Jaish al-Fatah, seized Idlib’s provincial capital on 28 March and the nearby city of Jisr al-Shughur last month. They had edged closer to Mastouma, where regime forces fled after withdrawing from Idlib city. There was no immediate toll in the capture of the military base.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Islamic State militants attacked a village in the Druze heartland of southern Syria, killing six people before local pro-regime gunmen expelled them.

“IS killed five fighters from the national defence forces and one woman in their attack on the Druze village of Al-Haqef in Sweida province,” Abdel Rahman said.

State news agency Sana said the army and NDF “foiled an infiltration attempt by terrorists from Islamic State on the villages of Al-Qasr and Al-Haqef”.

To the north, fighting between Isis militants and government forces continued outside the historic town of Palmyra on Tuesday. “There are clashes at the western entrance of Palmyra this morning,” the provincial governor, Talal Barazi, told AFP.

On Sunday, regime forces pushed Isis out of the northern neighbourhoods of Palmyra, which it had held for less than 24 hours.

Barazi said he visited Palmyra on Monday, “going through 60% of the city on foot”, including the vegetable market and museum. He expected the situation to return to normal within a week. At least 40 rockets struck Palmyra on Sunday, he said, but government forces maintained control over key points, including the Islamic citadel overlooking the city.
Isis pulls back from Palmyra but fear of 'cultural atrocity' remains
Read more

Palmyra, whose archeological treasures are renowned worldwide, lies along major highways linking Damascus and Homs to the west, with the Syrian desert and the Iraqi border to the east. The Observatory reported fresh clashes north of the city and said the government had brought in reinforcements.

To the east, an air strike on a village in Deir Ezzor province killed at least eight civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

Syria’s conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011 but has evolved into a multi-front war in which more than 220,000 people have died.




On the other hand pro-government forces and Hezbollah have almost completely expelled the remaining rebels from their Qalamoun mountain holdouts, this page of the insurgency in Syria is almost completely closed, for now at least. Nasrallah also alluded to a future battle in Arsal in Lebanon, where a lot of anti-Assad/Hezbollah elements flourish.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/origina ... ress.html#
Hezbollah courts media outlets

QALAMOUN, Lebanon — Cellphones have been confiscated, and vehicles have been searched. The large group of Lebanese and foreign media representatives make their way across the border from the Lebanese Bekaa Valley into the Syrian Qalamoun region. Until recently, this mountainous area had been under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra and other armed militant groups. Now, after fierce battles that began May 6, Hezbollah fighters roam the territory, and military vehicles pass by bearing yellow flags with an image of the group's late Cmdr. Imad Mughniyeh. It is a sight that Hezbollah wants the world to see, which is why it organized this rare media field trip for May 15. Its media relations office informed the news outlets about the opportunity the night before.

The Hezbollah commander in charge of the military operations in the area is introduced. “No filming,” the organizers order. “You can only take notes.” The commander proceeds to give a short briefing about the geography of the areas that had experienced recent fighting, pointing to the mountaintops that Hezbollah had taken.

The briefing was followed by a detailed explanation featuring a map highlighting the approximately 300 square kilometers (116 square miles) he said Hezbollah and the Syrian army had seized. According to the commander, protecting Lebanese border villages, cutting militant supply lines and occupying strategic mountaintops have been among his fighters' main accomplishments.

This is a message Hezbollah is determined to drive home in an attempt to counter a rival narrative, which according to the movement, has played down its achievements. To enforce the group's message, after the briefing the camera crew was given the green light to film Hezbollah fighters, albeit at a distance, as they patrolled the area.

We then head to our next stop. Along the way, it is easy to spot remnants of the militants' presence. Vehicles struck in missile attacks and makeshift military fortifications are scattered about. The media convoy comes to a halt at a steep road, and another commander is introduced to the group.

“This is al-Jiba,” he said. He then pointed to what he told us was a military camp used by the militants to assemble booby-trapped cars they intended to send into Lebanon for terror attacks. He mentioned the presence of Lebanese license plates. A severely damaged pickup truck just meters from another severely damaged car litter the scene. Both were allegedly going to be sent on operations, said the commander, who added that Hezbollah fighters had struck them before they could be deployed.

The message here is just as important: Hezbollah is at war with terror. It is a message the movement has consistently repeated to justify its participation in the fighting in Syria, making the case that by fighting extremist groups there, it is defending Lebanon and the region from their terror.

That argument appears to have been bolstered by the spread of jihadist terrorism to countries far from Syria but that are nonetheless suffering from a phenomenon with its roots in the Syrian crisis. This turn of events has also become a crucial element in Hezbollah’s strategy, which has been laid out in recent speeches by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. With terrorist atrocities being committed in Nigeria, Kenya and Pakistan, not to mention the numerous terror plots uncovered in Western countries, Hezbollah’s leader has become increasingly outspoken about the movement’s role in Syria.

In a televised speech on May 5, Nasrallah openly declared, "Lately, we went to places [in Syria] we weren't in during the past years." This strategy has gained in vigor, as the movement seeks to counter the media coverage of outlets affiliated with some Persian Gulf Arab states deemed hostile to the Syrian government. These media organizations, all of which support the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have recently presented the gains made by the anti-Assad forces in the north as evidence that the tide in the war is turning against the Syrian government. This is another part of the message Hezbollah is trying to counter by broadcasting images of its yellow flag planted on hilltops that used to be controlled by militant groups and by granting journalists a firsthand look at the situation on the ground.

Our tour ends with Hezbollah fighters waving goodbye as we head back to the other side of the border. Such media events might become routine as Hezbollah tries to convince the public that it is winning the war on terror.
User avatar
By roxunreal
#14561634
Ariha has fallen today along with Kafr Najd in only about three hours, the SAA withdrew. No wonder as the rebels had control of hills overlooking the town and could TOW army vehicles literally in its streets.

This was the last city in Idleb governorate that was in Assad's hands (not counting the twin besieged Shia towns north if Idleb city), all that remains now are a few villages along the road. Wonder if the SAA will attempt to defend those for as long as it can to delay rebel redeployment from the salient to a new front or if they will withdraw to save troops and equipment and redeploy them themselves to a more defensible position. In any case Assad must be feeling that bitter taste in the back of his mouth for the last two months, he has lost Idleb, Jish al-Shughur, Matsouma and the huge army base south of it, the National Hospital with most of the besieged troops inside (they made a breakout but of ~150-250 at least 130 died in the process), and now Ariha. Deir ez-Zor is besieged for good, IS took Palmyra and is on the doorstep of densely populated west Syria. Too bad that most of the Jaish al-Fatah rebels are hardline islamists/jihadists.

http://news.yahoo.com/rebels-storm-last ... um=twitter
Rebels storm last regime-held city in Syria's Idlib: monitor

Beirut (AFP) - A rebel coalition led by Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate edged into the last remaining government-held city in the northwest province of Idlib on Thursday, a monitoring group said.

The lightning offensive saw the Army of Conquest, or Jaish al-Fatah in Arabic, enter outer districts of Ariha within a matter of hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP.

"There was heavy shelling and rocket fire, then they stormed the city," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

"They have entered the city and are engaged in fierce clashes on its peripheries," he added.

Ariha, which was home to 40,000 people before the conflict began, is the last remaining government-held city in Idlib province which borders Turkey.

"The march of lions has begun... Let Allah liberate Ariha," the Army of Conquest's official Twitter account posted.

The coalition, which includes Al-Qaeda branch Al-Nusra Front, has won a series of victories in Idlib, including the provincial capital on March 28 and the key town of Jisr al-Shughur on April 25.

Most recently, the rebels seized the massive Al-Mastumah military base and overran a hospital complex where regime soldiers were trapped.

Many government forces retreated from these areas to Ariha, which Abdel Rahman said was heavily defended by fighters from Iran and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

The Army of Conquest vowed to consolidate its control of Idlib province, where the regime still holds Ariha, the Abu Duhur military airport and a sprinkling of minority villages and military posts.


Image

Image

I wrote the following text on how things may play out next a few days ago elsewhere, but it still applies:

Things currently definitely don't look good for the SAA. However, things looked even worse in 2012 when significant parts of Aleppo, Idleb and Homs provinces fell under rebel control as well as a good part of Damascus, Deir ez-Zor and large areas next to the Lebanese border, but Assad managed to turn their progress into a stalemate and slowly rebounded (with a huge help help from Hezbollah). But then it was a problem of proper mobilization and deployment for the SAA, now it is a problem of attrition, not only for the SAA but for Hezbollah as well, as it is evident that it no longer provides the edge for the pro-Assad side that it has before, while the Iraqi militias are mostly dealing with crap back home now.

The Idleb salient will almost certainly be closed very soon, or at least severely shortened. From there on rebels will have ~70km of frontline less to worry about and will be able to redeploy the men guarding it elsewhere. That elsewhere can be:

- Latakia - even though there is next to no support for the rebels there, attacking it could draw the SAA to defend their heartland or even cause the Alawite soldiers which are the bulk of the SAA's fighting force to defect to protect their homes, making the job easier for the rebels in other areas.

- Further south towards Hama - I expect an epic clusterfuck in this governorate in the future as both the SAA, the IS and the non-IS rebels start fighting in the countryside, though the city will likely remain under the SAA as it's of paramount importance.

- Aleppo - either the city itself or the supply lines south-east of it. The SAA seems to have exhausted its ability to progress in this region as of the failed push for Nubl and Zahra in February. I too thought that Aleppo would be encircled fully in a matter of months after the SAA broke the siege of the prison last year, but for a full year after that they've made very little further progress. The status quo in Aleppo is one of a balanced stalemate, but if rebels were to divert enough men and resources from Idleb this may change.

In addition to the north, the Southern Front rebels may use the SAA's preoccupation elsewhere to make a push for the Darayya pocket, endangering Damascus, and IS may come uncomfortably close to Homs and Damascus from the east.

The only thing the SAA has going for it is Qalamoun, which was actually a Hezbollah battle anyway and which is of limited strategic importance and more of a PR stunt, as it has already been neutered last year, and Hasaka, where Kurds are doing most of the work, but due to that the SAA doesn't have to worry about IS as much there anymore. It remains to be seen if the announced Hezbollah mobilization will have a significant effect on the ground.

--

Also a Vice News feature about the Shughur offensive:
[youtube]d-2uvKfYGQ4[/youtube]


--


In other news, remember when I mentioned that the rebels of Aleppo declared war on the Kurdish held district of Shekih Maqsood? It came to blows today and people died. Furthermore Al Nusra and Ahar ash-Sham have blockaded the Kurdish Arfin canton north of Aleppo city due to rising tensions. This was all due to a woman being allegedly mistreated by the Kurds. A few people died in the YPG/rebel clashes in Aleppo today, but now supposedly they have reached an agreement to stop the fighting. Weird and still largely unconfirmed (the agreement, the fighting did actually occur). It would be the pinnacle of stupidity for the rebels to pick a fight with the Kurds at this time when things are going good for them against Assad.
#14561681
phew! Thats a lot to take in.

I haven't been following closely, but noted the news recently saying Assad had experienced some pretty dramatic defeats this year. But if what you say is right - that he was in a worse position in 2012, then its more than feasible that Assad will prevail. My very uneducated guess is that Iran and possibly Hezbollah will take on more and more of the heavy lifting, ensuring the stalemate will continue. Not sure what Russia will do.

Even less clear is the strategy being decided on in Washington and also her arab allies. Clearly its the Islamist outfits that are making most of the gains - both Al Nusra and IS - both of whom last I checked were being bombed by the US and allies, and designated terrorists. Presumably their not trying very hard - given the gains these "terrorists" are still making. Its a pretty farcical situation they find themselves in - committed to a war to anhialate IS - at the same time continuing to groom and protect the secular FSA rebels against Assad - even while, according to Assad, there is some operational coordination between the US and Assad in targeting IS lol!
User avatar
By roxunreal
#14561723
GandalfTheGrey wrote:I haven't been following closely, but noted the news recently saying Assad had experienced some pretty dramatic defeats this year. But if what you say is right - that he was in a worse position in 2012, then its more than feasible that Assad will prevail. My very uneducated guess is that Iran and possibly Hezbollah will take on more and more of the heavy lifting, ensuring the stalemate will continue. Not sure what Russia will do.


That's just the thing, in 2012 it was a matter of the SAA getting its act together, and getting reinforcements. This both happened in 2013 when Hezbollah joined the fray and the SAA developed its slow and steady encirclement tactics. But now it's a matter of attrition, the SAA cannot find some new strength within itself without another massive influx of foreign manpower/material. Just the other day there was a picture circulated of the daily rations a SAA soldier got, he took a photo and uploaded it. It was an egg, two slices of bread, and a piece of something else. Hezbollah could muster something up, but it too is suffering from attrition and is also planning to deal with shit back home (Arsal). Nasrallah declared a "general mobilization" and total commitment to the fight about a week ago, so if he can muster a few thousand new fighters that would be of immense help to Assad. Other than that, only Iran can help. Russia will only ever send arms, but the SAA's main problm is personnel, not arms.

There was even an article I read recently about many Alawites in the western Alawite region geting fed up with getting coffins with their dead relatives in the mail all the time from some distant fronts in Syria, and getting fed up with what they see as Assad using them outisde their "homeland" (Latakia/Tartus) to secure his own position.

I'd say that by what things look like currently, Assad could fortify his hold on the major cities and supply routes between them, but he will undoubtedly lose a lot of rural areas in the coming months.

Even less clear is the strategy being decided on in Washington and also her arab allies. Clearly its the Islamist outfits that are making most of the gains - both Al Nusra and IS - both of whom last I checked were being bombed by the US and allies, and designated terrorists. Presumably their not trying very hard - given the gains these "terrorists" are still making. Its a pretty farcical situation they find themselves in - committed to a war to anhialate IS - at the same time continuing to groom and protect the secular FSA rebels against Assad - even while, according to Assad, there is some operational coordination between the US and Assad in targeting IS lol!


Yep, even though they bombed Al Nusra a few days ago, it's pretty blatant that they're advancing so much and are basically token bombed somewhere behind the lines. The US has no idea what it really wants in Syria and how it wants to do it, and that has been the case for two years now.

The "FSA/SRF" is at best a token force in Idleb at this point. The Southern Front rebels are the most acceptabl to the west ideologically, being moderate Islamists as worse.

Also a great Al-Monitor article about the rebels in the Damascus pocket(s), these are bathsit jihadis as well.
Syrian opposition defends Eastern Ghouta situation

ISTANBUL — Difficult access to its main area of operations has long made the Syrian opposition group Jaish al-Islam (JAI) a relative mystery to the outside world. A video released on April 29 showing a 1,700-strong military parade of its new "graduates" in the Damascus outskirts has drawn greater attention to it, along with a shift from calling for an Islamic state to its leader saying the people should choose the sort of state they want.

JAI spokesman Capt. Islam Alloush agreed to be interviewed by Al-Monitor in mid-May, in a gated complex housing mainly foreigners in Istanbul’s outlying suburbs. With a reddish-brown Islamist-style beard, wide-set eyes and a polite demeanor, Alloush claims no family relation to the group’s leader, Zahran Alloush.

The thickset 30-year-old former regime captain and military trainer from Idlib told Al-Monitor that he had first met Zahran in 2009 in the Sednaya prison, where he spent a few months and the future rebel leader was serving a longer sentence.

Zahran would go on to form Liwa al-Islam, the predominant group in the larger JAI, which was formed on Sept. 29, 2013, from over 50 smaller groups active around Damascus. He had been released in June 2011 as part of an amnesty by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad that many consider a strategic attempt to enable extremists to take over what was initially a peaceful uprising.

Liwa al-Islam initially rose to attention July 18, 2012, for bombing the national security headquarters in the Syrian capital, which killed Assad’s brother-in-law and Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat and Gen. Hasan Turkmani, the assistant to the vice president, among others.

Since then, a joint operations room in the Damascus suburbs has enabled JAI to "end all crime in eastern Ghouta," Capt. Alloush told Al-Monitor. "The situation is very good," he claimed, despite the obvious humanitarian issues.

The robustness of the young men in military formation in the widely circulated video and the Muslim shahada on the flags contrast sharply with the photos of the gaunt faces and frail bodies of children seen more often coming out of eastern Ghouta.

The area has been under siege by the regime for over two years and was the site of the Aug. 21, 2013, chemical attacks in which hundreds of civilians died. It appears that only the Syrian regime would have been able to carry out such an attack, despite its official denial of responsibility.

JAI has been widely accused of being behind the disappearance of several civil rights activists, including the well-known founder of the Violations Documentation Center, Razan Zaitouneh, a charge Capt. Alloush scoffs at.

The video aimed to show the regime that it is up against a powerful, well-trained fighting force, he told Al-Monitor, adding that there are currently “about 30,000 men” in the group.

"At the same time, we are sending many messages to our fighters," he said. "We are [transforming] from a militia into a real army. And the message to Assad is that we are approaching your capital. For Syrian people: We can set Syrian people free."

There have been protests against the group in the areas under its control, but information from the ground is extremely limited. It has been years since any international journalist was able to enter the area in the Damascus outskirts.

A former high-ranking Interior Ministry official now actively involved in an opposition alliance and who travels frequently into northern rebel-held areas expressed misgivings about the group to Al-Monitor in a conversation in late May in southern Turkey, where he spoke on condition of anonymity.

His criticism did not stem from the group's extremism, but from observation. "The people in the area under Jaish al-Islam’s control are not happy," he said, noting that the group "forces all the smaller groups to join it. It doesn’t just work beside them, it makes them submit to it."

He compared the group unfavorably with Ahrar Al-Sham, the largest group in the Islamist opposition, which focuses its operations more in Idlib and Aleppo and "works alongside other groups but does not force them to join it."

A young woman in her late 20s who was in eastern Ghouta during the August 2013 chemical attacks and is now working for a nongovernmental organization in southern Turkey said, "At the beginning, they provided essential services. They helped with transporting people between the various towns in the area and with collecting garbage, for example."

The woman, who did not want her name used, told Al-Monitor that instead now "people are terrified of saying anything against them, since they will be called traitors if they do."

Another man from the area, a lawyer by profession now living in northern Europe but in daily contact with several individuals inside the area under JAI control, told Al-Monitor in a Skype conversation that the Tawbah prison is filled with several thousand people imprisoned without a fair trial by the groups active in the JAI-dominated area, and that the Al-Baton jail reportedly held a few hundred women and children taken prisoner from the Adra al-Omalia area. The men who had been taken alongside them are believed to have been executed, as were many fighters from the rival and recently disbanded Jaish al-Umma group more recently.

While the group has long called for a state run on the basis of Islamic law, Capt. Alloush sidestepped the question as to whether the group supported elections in a hypothetical post-Assad future, saying only that it wanted "what the Syrian people want."

The extent of the group’s Islamist stance is unclear.

Zahran Alloush is the son of a Salafist preacher living in Saudi Arabia and was born in Douma, in the Damascus outskirts. He has three wives, as do several other major leaders in the opposition — including even Jamal Maarouf, who headed up the reportedly nonreligiously-associated Syrian Revolutionary Front prior to its routing from its base in Idlib by local al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

When asked for an opinion about Harakat Hazm — formed in early 2014 and the first to receive TOW anti-tank weapons from the United States, weapons that were later taken by Jabhat al-Nusra when it routed this group as well from the Idlib region in late 2014 — Capt. Alloush told Al-Monitor that it was "a very, very good group."

He praised the high number of defected military officers and said that they were well trained with what he called "a good ideology," that of moderate Islam.

JAI, like all the Islamist groups, does not use the "revolutionary national flag" since "there are so many extremist groups in Syria right now that would fight" the group if they did, Alloush said.

He noted that JAI had always fought against the Islamic State and was responsible for getting it out of the area now under its control. He admitted, however, that it was fighting on the same side as many other groups that have views similar to those of the group’s sworn enemy.

But while IS "has an ideology that is takfiri, and they kill everyone except IS," other groups in the opposition may "have the same ideology but don’t make the same chaos — for their fighters, for our fighters or for the Syrian people."
By Rich
#14561731
roxunreal wrote:There was even an article I read recently about many Alawites in the western Alawite region geting fed up with getting coffins with their dead relatives in the mail all the time from some distant fronts in Syria, and getting fed up with what they see as Assad using them outisde their "homeland" (Latakia/Tartus) to secure his own position.
Yes this senseless waste of infidel life is obscene. What is needed is to select the largest area possibly that can properly defended and then set about ruthlessly cleansing of it every single Sunni Muslim terrorist. If you set up the right environment where Sunni Muslims feel safe to reject corroboration with Sunni Muslim terrorists and indeed are actually fearful of collaborating I think you will find some Sunni Muslims that actually want to convert. There should then be a swift move to democracy within the free Levant.
By demima
#14562980
Posting here as the main war thread seems to be used for discussing religion rather than the war.

A truck was stopped in a city near Syria in Turkey laden with crates labelled "medicines and antibiotics" etc, by the gendarmerie. They found MIT (intelligence services) personnel on board and the crates were full of weapons, mortars, grenade launchers and thousands of ammunition.

Erdogan then threatened the journalist on camera (Can Dundar), who reported this with arrest.

You cannot even say that Turkey is sliding towards an autocratic state, we are here already and have been for sometime.

Intel trucks’ content no one's business, says PM

Questioning the content of trucks that were stopped by the gendarmerie while carrying “logistical assistance to Turkmens” in Syria last year was nobody’s business, Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoğlu has said, drawing attention to the timing of publications accusing Turkey of delivering weapons to rebel groups in the neighboring country.

“Why do they reveal these things after so many times: to depict the AK Party [Justice and Development Party] as a party supporting terrorist groups before the elections? This is manipulation. What do [the trucks] contain? Its content is nobody’s business but its destination and objectives,” Davutoğlu told private broadcaster Habertürk in an interview on May 31.

Daily Cumhuriyet published video footage of mortar shells, grenade launchers and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition stashed under boxes containing antibiotics and marked “fragile” on May 29. The footage was from a search of trucks conducted by local security forces in January 2014 in southern Turkey near the Syrian border on suspicion that they were smuggling arms into Syria. During the search, the gendarmerie found personnel of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) on board.

Davutoğlu said the trucks were carrying logistical support to Turkmens who were suffering from President Bashar al-Assad’s army’s assaults, adding that if Turkey had not supported them, an additional 500,000 refugees would have fled to Turkey. Calling the issue a “state secret,” Davutoğlu said he instructed Turkish institutions to carefully look after Turkmens in Syria against the al-Assad government.

Reiterating that Turkey would not stay indifferent to the regional developments in its region, Davutoğlu said they would not tolerate those trying to launch a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena.

“The necessary response will be given to this. There is no account Turkey cannot give. Turkey has never supported terrorist organizations anywhere, anyhow. It has not even a little stain on its record,” he said.

Prosecutors have opened up an anti-terrorism investigation into Cumhuriyet over its publication.


http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/intel-trucks-content-no-ones-business-says-pm.aspx?pageID=238&nID=83240&NewsCatID=338
User avatar
By roxunreal
#14563086
A great interactive google-style map of who holds what in Syria
-->
http://umap.openstreetmap.fr/fr/map/des ... 393/40.551

The rump of Idleb salient seems to be holding for now, despite rumors of a complete SAA withdrawal two days ago. They should probably withdraw and redeploy at a more defensible position, but who ever calls the strategic shots seems to think that the longer the rebels are occupied at the salient, the better, despite likely SAA casualties in the end.

A shitstorm is breaking out north of Aleppo between the YPG, al-Nusra and IS, pretty much at the worse possible time for the non-IS rebels. So far there isn't direct violence between Arfin and al-Nusra that I'm aware of, but al-Nusra basically declared war on the Kurish forces in Aleppo region.

A map of the IS push north of Aleppo:
Image

IS is also advancing in rural Homs governorate towards Homs city, info is sketchy currently.

And two more maps of interest, Idleb and Daraa governorates now and a year ago:

Image

Image

demima wrote:Posting here as the main war thread seems to be used for discussing religion rather than the war.


That's an IS centric thread, this one is about everything going on in Syria, without Iraq, with more of an emphasis on the Assad vs. non-IS rebels conflict, though it isn't out of place to post about IS and YPG related events either, as long as they are in Syria.
User avatar
By roxunreal
#14564560
There's a lot of gossip that the Iranian role in Syria will soon increase. Rohani vowed to back Syria "to the end of the road", then Soleimani promised "a nasty surprise" in Syria, and there are unconfirmed reports of a new influx of Iranian and Hezbollah personnel in Syria, but so far nothing substantial. Iran is really the only possible way to consolidate the frontlines in Assad's favor in the long run and possibly reconquer areas in the north and south.


A few things in the last several days:

The IS offensive on the rebels north of Aleppo has been a disaster for it, the other rebels now hold more than they did. Someone made a .gif of its progress throughout the days up to June 3:
Image

The current situation:
Image

Seems to have quieted down for now, apart from Sawran which the IS currently holds and doesn't plan to relinuish. I guess IS thought it could take more of the Turkish border from the rebels since they are in danger of losing everything between Kobani and Hasaka.

This has had a negative effect on the rebels on the other front though, the one with the SAA. The rebels sent a lot of reinforcements up to north Aleppo, they've made no new progress in Idlib and the SAA have launched their own little offensive near the al-Ghab plain, recapturing a few villages in an attempt to widen the salient. They really are stubborn as hell in Idlib, everything they hold is in the valleys surrounded by mountains and hills dotted with TOW wielding rebels. It's likely only for morale/propaganda purposes as to not appear to be losing, or they really are so undermanned in Aleppo that they want to desparately keep the rebels tied up in Idlib.

Image

Another map of the whole salient the day before, they don't really match up, gonna have to wait more and see what's really going on.
Image

YPG is still advancing on Tall Abyad from the east, much slower from the west. This is currently the area of most strategic significance for the entirety of Syria and Iraq, if the cantons connect, Is will have a really, really rough time getting people and stuff in from outside, and attrition will increase.
Image

YPG is also attempting to widen its territory to the south near Hasaka.
Image

The IS assault on Hasaka looks like it lacks potency. YPG is standing by, but not intervening on part of the regime yet.
Image
User avatar
By Typhoon
#14564676
A lot of disappointing news from the Syrian front recently, as cataloged in the above posts. To stabilize the situation the government has had to surrender considerable ground to the militants.

That said the conflict between IS and JN has started above Idlib (better late than never), which should provide some relief, shipping in additional armaments and manpower from Iran and Lebanon if true is also going to help. The militants got a ton of support in recent months, this needs to be offset.

As said above the most encouraging developments are with the Kurds and the push along the border, they are the only chance Syria has at the moment to seal the border and cut off the militants from external support.
User avatar
By pikachu
#14564831
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Jun-03/300429-iraq-iran-fighters-deployed-to-defend-damascus-security-source.ashx#.VW9HqfOQwao.twitter
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Jun-04/300520-iran-sends-15000-fighters-to-syria.ashx#.VXA0xiDSyzE.twitter

So it would appear that Iran is deploying some serious, yet still limited reinforcements to Syria - from 7000 to 15000 fighters. If the reports are correct, then most of them are not even Iranians - but Iraqi and Afghani Shia militants. I can't help but ponder where Iran managed to suddenly get so many Iraqis and Afghanis willing to go fight in Syria when there is plenty of fighting to be done in their home countries, and how come they are only being deployed now - where were they before? Either way, this is a bad omen for the Syrian government, because it means that it is probably in an even worse shape than we thought. Iranians must have calculated that without this infusion of manpower, the Syrian government might be at risk of losing Damascus or something similar.

Also, it may be somewhat speculative, but I would assume that whatever Shia militants the Iranians are sending in are probably of nowhere near the same high quality as the foreign Sunni radicals fighting on the rebel side. The Sunni world is large, and only the craziest of the crazy are going to Syria. And not for a salary, but because in Syria they can actually fight for their ideals - they can die for something they can be proud of, they can be the architects of the new order, the builders of the new state and interpreters of the Islamic law, the warlords and perhaps even future leaders of Syria. The Shias trained by Iran are probably not the same kind of people at all. They are forced to go in and fight on behalf of a secular government that represents the opposite of the Islamic ideals that they probably harbor, they can't really hope to be the architects of anything new at all - Islamic or not - they have to deal with the Assad government as is, with all its flaws, and they can't settle down to become local warlords and future leaders, it doesn't work like that for them. So their morale and discipline is probably a lot lower.

Meanwhile, according to the recent ISW report (always to be taken with a a large grain of salt):
"the vast majority of regular SAA units remain bound to their assigned home stations, largely concentrated in Dera’a and Damascus Provinces as an artifact of a pre-2011 military doctrine designed to provide defense in depth against an Israeli offensive towards Damascus. In the words of one Damascus-based SAA commander in April 2013, “Most of the soldiers in my unit are Sunnis. They don’t trust me, and I don’t trust them.”"
http://understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/An%20Army%20in%20All%20Corners%20by%20Chris%20Kozak%201.pdf

Regarding the long term prospects...

The idea of a "political solution" is still a joke of course. What kind of political solution can exist between Assad, Baghdadi, and Zawahiri, the three biggest players in Syria right now? Even the moderate Islamist rebel leaders like Alloush and Salameh are extremely unlikely to accept any compromise under any circumstance, it would destroy their support base. So point one is clear, the conflict has to have a primarily military outcome. Everything else is murky. As of this time, the dominant faction in the civil war is still the Syrian government. The moderate Islamists aren't even in the top three, they may be #4 or #5, after the Kurds, and this doesn't seem likely to change. Understandably, there is not much demand for moderation in Syria at this time, and there is only less and less demand for it as the war continues. Should the Syrian government crumble, there will be absolute chaos and probably genocide in Syria that will require far more concerted and long-term foreign intervention than that which exists now. Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, and Joran will all be in serious trouble. Thus, everyone of the biggest players seems to be interested in keeping the Syrian regime alive - not just Iran or Russia, but also the US, though of course the latter will try to offload the responsibility to the former as much as possible. The US public statements and actions so far seem to confirm this attitude. But neither the US, nor definitely the regional players like Turkey and Saudi Arabia want to have Iran triumph as well, so that is not an option in the near future either.

So I see the situation as one of a continuing stalemate overall - the major regional players appear to have backed themselves into a deadlocked meat-grinder where they can't really move in any direction without severe repercussions. Last year Assad made some tactical gains, this year the rebels are making some tactical gains, now Iran is poised to deploy more reinforcements so that might mean Assad will be making some gains again, etc. None of the gains made by either side brought the conflict's resolution any closer. How long can this continue? Impossible to tell. The US I imagine is reasonably content with the situation - all the potential regional troublemakers are keeping each other occupied by investing more and more resources into this, the radical Muslims from all over the world are willingly revealing themselves and slaughtering each other, Israel has an almost free hand to do whatever it wants and feels pretty secure, and the "balance of power" is thus preserved. So as far as the US is concerned, this can continue forever, or at least until all the Muslims in the world have killed each other or something. I'm not entirely sure what other interests the US might have in this.

Perhaps once the US-Iranian nuclear deal is finalized, the US will act differently? Maybe the Iranians can trade in their nuclear program in exchange for securing their sphere of influence - in other words, they will promise to abandon nukes, and the US will promise to make Turkey and KSA back off? I'm at loss of ideas how else this can be resolved.
By Rich
#14564893
GandalfTheGrey wrote:If I was Assad, I'd be entering into some *SERIOUS* negotiations with them.
Assad is completely beholden to Iran. Iran doesn't like the Kurds. Even the Iraqi government, the regime's other ally is not particularly keen to see Syrian Kurds get independence and is of course also beholden to Iran. There is not much co operation to be done with the YPG now any way, plus the YPG don't want to be associated with Assad who is probably on the way out.
User avatar
By roxunreal
#14564941
YPG is now supposedly a few kilometers from Slouk, the only bigger settlement that IS holds east of Tall Abyad.

Image


GandalfTheGrey wrote:So pardon my ignorance, but whats the relationship between YPG and Asaad? Are they fighting each other?


Nope, but they're not really in a state of liking either. The SAA is moving in YPG's shadow around Hasaka, and currently the YPG has sent some troops into the regime part of Hasaka city that are there just in case IS really starts conquering the city. The YPG isn't really crazy about having a new Aleppo on its hands between themselves and IS, nor about IS capturing SAA material, so they likely won't allow IS to enter Hasaka city without joining in the fight. What will happen one day when IS stops being a threat and/or when/if the regime collapses is anyone's guess, but it will likely be settled by agreement rather than conflict as an isolated SAA forces there aren't really a match for the Kurds.

pikachu wrote:So it would appear that Iran is deploying some serious, yet still limited reinforcements to Syria - from 7000 to 15000 fighters.


So far only gossip and nothing confirmed. As someone on reddit put it:
You don't hide 15,000 troops or their movement. If 15,000 troops went anywhere we'd know it. You'd see it in Iranian social media (15,000 families missing their sons) in air travel (Iran doesn't have the naval capabilities to transport 15k people) and from sources in Syria when there we're suddenly 15k more foreigners wandering around Damascus.


Regarding the quality of the forces, there is talk that these forces, if deployed, would be in the back doing less dangerous stuff like manning checkpoints, thus freeing up SAA personnel for the front lines.

What kind of political solution can exist between Assad, Baghdadi, and Zawahiri


Technicaly speaking the majority of the "other rebels" are not al-Qaeda affiliated. The most numerous single group is Ahrar al-Sham, not al-Nusra, although they are ideologically similar (but JaN is more rabid than Ahrar).
User avatar
By pikachu
#14565142
The most numerous single group is Ahrar al-Sham, not al-Nusra, although they are ideologically similar (but JaN is more rabid than Ahrar).

Ahrar ash-Sham, not Ahrar al-Sham, is the biggest group in that coalition. Those are two different brigades apparently, although often confused. As for ideological similarity, they are so similar to Nusra that Ahrar ash-Sham's co-founder was a member of al-Qaeda and recognized Zawahiri as the "representative of the Levant". That's on their wiki page. That's why i mentioned Zawahiri as part of the "big three", not Golani. There seems to be more to al-Qaeda than Nusra Front. That said, sheer numbers aren't the only thing that counts. Even if Nusra isn't technically the biggest part of that coalition, it sure does seem to be its head.

How do you think this war will end?
By wat0n
#14565195
pikachu wrote:Regarding the long term prospects...

The idea of a "political solution" is still a joke of course. What kind of political solution can exist between Assad, Baghdadi, and Zawahiri, the three biggest players in Syria right now? Even the moderate Islamist rebel leaders like Alloush and Salameh are extremely unlikely to accept any compromise under any circumstance, it would destroy their support base. So point one is clear, the conflict has to have a primarily military outcome. Everything else is murky. As of this time, the dominant faction in the civil war is still the Syrian government. The moderate Islamists aren't even in the top three, they may be #4 or #5, after the Kurds, and this doesn't seem likely to change. Understandably, there is not much demand for moderation in Syria at this time, and there is only less and less demand for it as the war continues. Should the Syrian government crumble, there will be absolute chaos and probably genocide in Syria that will require far more concerted and long-term foreign intervention than that which exists now. Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, and Joran will all be in serious trouble. Thus, everyone of the biggest players seems to be interested in keeping the Syrian regime alive - not just Iran or Russia, but also the US, though of course the latter will try to offload the responsibility to the former as much as possible. The US public statements and actions so far seem to confirm this attitude. But neither the US, nor definitely the regional players like Turkey and Saudi Arabia want to have Iran triumph as well, so that is not an option in the near future either.

So I see the situation as one of a continuing stalemate overall - the major regional players appear to have backed themselves into a deadlocked meat-grinder where they can't really move in any direction without severe repercussions. Last year Assad made some tactical gains, this year the rebels are making some tactical gains, now Iran is poised to deploy more reinforcements so that might mean Assad will be making some gains again, etc. None of the gains made by either side brought the conflict's resolution any closer. How long can this continue? Impossible to tell. The US I imagine is reasonably content with the situation - all the potential regional troublemakers are keeping each other occupied by investing more and more resources into this, the radical Muslims from all over the world are willingly revealing themselves and slaughtering each other, Israel has an almost free hand to do whatever it wants and feels pretty secure, and the "balance of power" is thus preserved. So as far as the US is concerned, this can continue forever, or at least until all the Muslims in the world have killed each other or something. I'm not entirely sure what other interests the US might have in this.

Perhaps once the US-Iranian nuclear deal is finalized, the US will act differently? Maybe the Iranians can trade in their nuclear program in exchange for securing their sphere of influence - in other words, they will promise to abandon nukes, and the US will promise to make Turkey and KSA back off? I'm at loss of ideas how else this can be resolved.


If this becomes a war of attrition, Assad loses though as he's in the demographic minority. Particularly considering the reports that 30% of Alawite fighting-age males have died during the war.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 183
Is it wrong to hate Europeans?

Tell us why you aren't just a boring troll? No[…]

The hong Kong separatism/revolt situation doesn't […]

perfection would be the lack of contradiction Gö[…]

June 19, Wednesday Francis H. Pierpoint is name[…]