Turning point Aleppo — updateSeptember 6, 2016
The hope and the cautious optimism in the initial Aleppo blog post
https://mato48.com/2016/07/28/turning-point-aleppo/ evaporated, when Islamist militias, spearheaded by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate) managed to break Syrian lines in southwest Aleppo with at least 7 SVBIEDs (suicide-vehicle-born-improvised-explosive-devices), a powerful tunnel bomb under a Syrian command post, and never ending waves of suicidal fighters who stormed against Syrian defenses without fear of injury or death.
This setback was clearly caused by negligence and incompetence of the concerned army leadership, which failed to install proper defenses in the crucial area of the Ramouseh military colleges. It is understandable that after nearly six years at war the army is exhausted and short of equipment and soldiers, but the higher ranking officers at least should have gained experience and developed strategies and tactics to counter an enemy whom they know now very well.
The military colleges are highly defensible positions and dislodging the Islamists from there proved nearly impossible. Many Syrian, Iranian, and Lebanese soldiers lost their lives in failed attacks before the legendary Tiger Forces under Colonel Suhayl Al-Hassan in a surprise night operation routed the Islamists and drove them out of the whole complex.
The Tiger Forces, highly trained and motivated, were equipped with night vision goggles and the best body protection, they are probably now as capable as US Navy SEAL commandos.
There is also a picture on the web of Russian elite forces, who might have been involved.
Specialists operated a TOS-1 Buratino rocket launcher with thermobaric warheads, a fearsome weapon which causes immense heat on impact, killing life in a wide area by heat, shockwave, or suffocation. The rebels who may be hiding in the nooks and crannies of the 1070 housing complex and the Ramouseh industrial district will have no chance to get out alive.
Some of the Islamic fighters were fleeing from the military colleges towards Al Hikma School and Al Shurfa, while others withdrew to eastern Aleppo. As the Islamists defense lines collapsed, the Syrian forces went on the offensive, recapturing most of the territory they lost to the enemy in August and cutting again all supply lines to the Islamists in eastern Aleppo city.
At the moment Syrian troops are attacking Khan Touman and Ma’rata. In Ramouseh industrial district the al-Dabaghat plant and the Ramouseh oven have been captured, a counter offensive from inside eastern Aleppo against al-Amiriyah, spearheaded by an Ahrar al-Sham SVBIED was easily repelled.
In the next days many pictures of injured children and bombed hospitals will be shown on Western media to support calls for “humanitarian intervention.” In February, the first time the Islamists got into serious trouble, four hospital bombings were claimed, when Mallah Farms fell, the record was pushed to six hospital bombings, one wonders how much it will be this time.
Until now there are no bombed hospitals in the news, but Islamists claim a chlorine gas attack in Aleppo’s Sukkari district. Did they run out of hospital pictures or did they change the script because gas attacks are easier to fake than hospital bombings? Anyway, only the most artless and gullible media consumers will believe that the Syrian troops are using chlorine on civilian areas two days after a crucial victory which was clearly achieved without using nerve gas.
Suicide bomb attacks by IS (Islamic State) against civilians in retaliation for the defeat of their Islamist brethren in Aleppo have claimed 48 lives and wounded 100. Two bombs went off in Tartus, the other suicide attacks were in Hasakah, Qamishlo, Homs, and Saburra near Damascus. Western media are mostly silent about these terror acts.
Things looked not good for a few weeks as the Islamists pushed relentlessly against Syrian defenses in southwest Aleppo, while IS affiliate Jund al-Aqsa in northern Hama overrun NDF (National Defense Unit) positions and captured Souran, Tayyibat-al-Imam, Buwayda, and Maardas.
As “moderate” rebel groups eagerly joined Jund al-Aqsa, this offensive gained steam and continued south, coming into 10 kilometer distance of Hama city. There were rumors that Colonel Suhayl Al-Hassan had been killed when a SA.341 Gazelle helicopter was shot down by the Islamists with a Milan ATGM. Mhardeh, Syria’s biggest Christian city, was also in danger and the whole population went up to improve defenses, cooking meals for the soldiers and supporting them by all other available means.
It seems that the offensive in Hama has been stopped, because assaults on Kawkab and Ma’an were repelled with heavy loss of fighters and weapons, including artillery and armor, on the Islamist side.
Prospects look brighter now and if the Syrian government is able to recapture eastern Aleppo and ultimately Idlib, and if it also manages to relieve the desert city of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria (currently besieged by IS) then it will have won the war — maybe.
The rebel pockets around Damascus are either surrendering (Darayya and Mouadamiya) or are step by step recaptured (Eastern Ghouta). The southern front is still quiet, as Jordan has decreased support and rebels have ignored the calls of radical Islamist preachers to become active again.
There is still the Turkish invasion at the Azaz – Jarabulus border line, officially aimed at dislodging IS from the border. There were no battles, no Turkish air raids, no IEDs or suicide attackers. IS just handed the border area over to their fellow Islamists from the FSA or Turkmen brigades.
Why should IS have fought against the Turkish troops and their Islamist foot soldiers? If they could easily move fighters, weapons, and oil transports across the border before, unbothered by Turkish border control, they will be able to move them even more easily through territory which is now controlled by their Islamist comrades.
It is still not clear, how much the USA was involved in the creation and the ascent of IS, but Turkey undoubtedly has been deeply involved, with ample proof and solid documentation by independent sources.
Why didn’t Turkey just seal off the border and arrest all IS operatives inside Turkey? This invasion is not directed against IS but against the Kurds. The invasion also creates a “safe zone” for Turkish funded Islamist militias and Turkey intends to build huge refugee camps and resettle up to two million Syrian refugees there. These camps could subsequently become ideal recruitment and training grounds for Islamic terrorist groups.
There is no coordinating with the Syrian administration and all these activities will only consolidate Turkey’s occupier status. Moreover, settling refugees in a war zone is bound to provoke humanitarian and legal arguments. Syrian UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari has submitted a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, expressing his governments concern about Turkey’s military operation on Syrian soil. But the UN has no hurry to address the issue and the invasion will not be discussed until September 21.
Russian special services had information about Turkey’s intention to carry out the operation, but its scale was unexpected. Turkey has moved hundreds of tanks to the border, including Leopard2A4 (the Leopard tanks have been transported from Istanbul to Gaziantep).
The Kurds were able to destroy at least one Turkish M60A3 tank and Turkish F-16 jets bombed Kurdish positions, but after initial bloody clashes there is an uneasy truce at the moment between the Kurdish dominated SDF (Syrian Defense Forces) and the Turkish supported Islamist groups.
Initially US Vice-President Biden, on a fence-mending trip to Turkey, publicly stated that the YPG must withdraw to the eastern side of the Euphrates or risk losing US support. At a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Binaldi Yildirim he said: “No Kurdish corridor. Period. No separate entity on the Turkish border. A united Syria.”
Yet, later on the USA, Britain, and France condemned Turkish army attacks on the YPG/YPJ (Kurdish Peoples Protection Units) and stated that their support of Turkey’s incursion into Syria remains conditional.
Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS, met with Kurdish and Arab political and military leaders in Kobane as well as in Hasakeh province. McGurk, who visited northern Syria before, said in the meeting that “there has been no change in the US administration’s policy toward the Syrian Democratic Forces.” McGurk stressed that the US will continue to support the SDF, including in southwest Manbij, outside IS capital Raqqa, as well as in territory around the Tishreen Dam along the Euphrates River.
This would be one of the rare occasions where the USA doesn’t throw their proxy allies under the bus and stays committed even in adverse circumstances. The Kurds obviously struck a chord with their Western friends when they attacked Syrian NDF units in Hasakah and captured non-Kurdish neighborhoods from them. Not only that, but Washington knows very well, that the Kurds instantly would turn to Russia if the West would abandon them, giving Russia one more trump card to play.
Despite shunned by the Kurds in the Hasakah conflict Russia has kept the door open. Answering a request of Turkish President Erdogan to shut the PYD office in Moscow, Karlov Andrey Gennadyevich, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, said that the PYD is not a terrorist group and has offices in many European countries.
While it seemed first, that Syria’s Kurds overplayed their hand by attacking government forces in Hasakah and at the same time trying to bridge the gap between the Afrin and Kobane cantons, with the protection of their big Western friends they could remain a relevant player and avoid annihilation by Turkey.
Contrary to Vice-President Biden’s statement, the unity of Syria is of no concern to the USA and a split into small statelets like in the Yugoslavian wars would be just fine. Kurdish Rojava could be one of the statelets, giving the West leverage against both Syria and Turkey. Rojava would be land locked, with no revenues from oil fields or other natural resources, and it would have to be governed prudently and diligently to make it economic viable.
It would be an interesting experiment though.
The big picture
Even if Syrian forces are victorious in Aleppo, Idlib, and Deir ez-Zor, it must not necessarily mean the end of fighting. Their Islamist enemies enjoy endless cash flow and endless supply of ammunition and ATGM’s (anti-tank-guided-missiles), provided by the Gulf monarchies with the help of Turkey and the USA.
If nothing else works, Western powers will maybe be inclined to intervene directly, with bombing campaigns, downing of Russian jets, sinking of Russian ships, and ultimately “boots on the ground.” What will Putin do, if Russian forces in Syria are attacked by USA/NATO? Can World War III be avoided under such circumstances? When will nuclear bombs explode?
Contrary to constantly repeated hypocritical declarations about the need to end the suffering of the Syrian people and stop the wars in the Middle East, Western policies are achieving just the contrary, pouring oil on fire by pouring more and more weapons into an ever expanding war zone.
US President Barack Obama for that reason is often criticized and accused of weakness and indecisiveness, but for the MIC (Military Industrial Complex), Obama’s Middle East policy is a rousing success. In 2014 more than half of all global weapons deals benefitted US companies, and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency estimates, that arms sales facilitated by the Pentagon were 46 billion US$ in 2015 and are on track to surpass 40 billion US$ in 2016. Saudi Arabia is the best customer, buying Raython BGM-71 TOWs for the radical Islamists in Syria and CBU-105 cluster bombs from Textron Defense Systems for the air war against Yemen.
Yes, the Middle East is in flames, Syria is nearly destroyed, Libya is a failed state, Iraq fights an endless war against Islamic State (Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul coming). But the shareholders of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and similar companies will remember Obama fondly, hoping that HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton) can live up to the hype and raise profits further by starting new wars and increasing worldwide chaos.
Israel will also be quite satisfied, even if Netanyahu purportedly is being at odds with Obama, because Syria, its biggest challenger and a steadfast supporter of the Palestinian cause, is out of the way and most of the jihadists in the region are busy now in Syria and never ever even think about attacking Israel.
That Turkey uses allies of al-Qaeda for the invasion into Syria is for sure not a point of contention, the USA does that all the time. Hardcore Islamists are simply the most effective fighters, pushing against enemy lines without fear of injury or death, propelled by religious fervor and burning hate against apostates and everyone else who doesn’t share their narrow ideology.
That this inevitably means the extinction of Christians in the Middle East is an unfortunate but unavoidable side effect which simply has to be ignored and covered with a blanket of silence. (As mentioned earlier, the Jund al Aqsa offensive in northern Hama also threatened Mhardeh, one of Syria’s remaining Christian strongholds.)
Hardcore Islamists are an extremely efficient tool to create chaos and bring down undesirable governments. Charlie Wilson knew that, laying the groundwork for the Taliban and the destruction of Afghanistan. The Dulles brothers knew that when they approved Saudi Arabia’s funding of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood against Gamal Abdel Nasser. The LIFG (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) was outfitted and trained by Western agencies to topple and kill Muammar Gaddafi, many of their members now fight in Syria and leader Abdelhakim Belhadj has recently joined the IS Libyan franchise. Tajikistan Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, now a prominent IS leader, was trained by US Special Forces in the USA.
Support of radical Islamists was the policy of every administration since WW II, Obama simply continued the tradition.
The even bigger picture
In addition to this particular aspect, the Syrian war has now become a once in a lifetime chance to bleed Russia, which becomes increasingly entangled into the quagmire despite Putin’s cautious approach.
As mentioned here in earlier posts, Syria is only a stepping stone in a strategic game to destroy Russia. If Syria falls, Iran will be the next station, and from there it is not far to the Caucasus and Central Asia, Russia’s “soft underbelly.”
US/NATO long term strategy (the Master Plan) uses religious fanatics and exploits sectarian and tribal tensions in order to set the Middle East and after that the Caucasus and Central Asia ablaze, thereby creating serious troubles for Russia (Ingushetia, Dagestan, Chechnya) and China (Xinjiang Uyghur region).
The Central Asian former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan (70 percent Muslims), Kyrgyzstan (86 percent Muslims), Tajikistan (98 percent Muslim), Turkmenistan (92 percent Muslims), Uzbekistan (94 percent Muslim) are already seeing increased activities of Hizb-ut-Tahrir and other radical islamic movements. Most of the radical Islamists are funded by the Gulf monarchies.
After the death of Uzbek president Islam Karimov, who suppressed the Islamists with an iron fist, it has to be seen if his successor can retain stability. Uzbekistan borders Afghanistan and it has significant natural resources, including oil, gas, and gold, conditions which makes it a prime target for destabilization.
In addition to the troubled Russian republics of Ingushetia, Dagestan, and Chechnya, Tatarstan and Bashkurtistan, two republics in the Volga region with Muslim majorities, could become infected with Islamic separatist movements. The legislature of Tatarstan has taken harsh measures against violent extremism after terrorists attacked and killed top Muslim clerics.
The Western strategists envision that a radicalization of Russia’s Muslims, combined with increased economic and military pressure (economic sanctions, encirclement by NATO bases, deployment of more troops on Russian borders, NATO’s missile defense shield) plus from outside organized “color revolutions” will finally lead to the breakup of the Russian Federation.
Why has Russia to be destroyed?
Russia has the largest territory of the worlds nations (17.1 million square kilometers), but only 143 million people. USA territory is 9.8 million square kilometers, occupied by 319 million people. Russian territory includes prime forests and an abundance of untapped natural resources. Global warming will devastate many countries and make some areas near the equator uninhabitable (Arab Peninsular), but it will leave Russia nearly unscathed and even ease living conditions in Siberia and other northern areas.
The exploitative and wasteful economies and societies of the West have reached their limits, vital resources like drinking water become scarce, inequality is increasing and with it social unrest and political instability. Russia has everything what is needed to keep consumerism and extreme wealth accumulation going on for a little while longer.
It looked so good after the collapse of the USSR, when drunkard Boris Yeltsin presented Russia’s riches to the West on a silver platter. A comprador class emerged (the oligarchs) and the St. Petersburg intelligentia indulged in imitations of Western style vanity and folly.
But then came Vladimir Vladimirowich Putin. Only 170 cm tall, with unassuming and quiet demeanor, he was not taken seriously for some time and when Western leaders finally realized, that he systematically tried to reign in the oligarchs and block Western interference, it was too late. Putin had solidified his position and turned things around, Russia left the nightmare of the Yeltsin years behind and ascended again.
This is the reason Vladimir Putin is the most hated and defamed person in the West.
As pointed out here before, the imperium never retreats or compromises, and it will try to destroy Russia again and again until it succeeds or collapses itself. Syria is the present hindrance and stumbling block in this never ending and multi pronged campaign, it has stubbornly refused to surrender for five years and eight month, throwing the elaborate imperial plans into disarray.
This is the reason why Syrian President Dr. Bashar al-Assad is the second most hated and defamed person in the West.
Updated map September 7, 2016
Pictures can be viewed in high definition by clicking on them.