Profile image
Story Views

Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

ISIS update 2/1/2016.. Turkey shells Syrian territory – Russian military

Monday, February 1, 2016 10:18
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

(Before It's News)

Russia accuses Turkey of shelling Syrian village

Artillery fire conducted from turkish terrirtory against Syrian inhabited areas!

‘Irrefutable proof’: Turkey shells Syrian territory – Russian military

Istanbul streets literally on fire as pro-Kurdish protesters clash with police

Turkish Military shoot at Ambulance

Syria peace talks inch ahead despite differences

Syrian govt. delegation says opposition “not serious”

International Military Review – Syria-Iraq battlespace – Feb. 1, 2016
South Front

War planes strike Homs as Geneva hosts UN brokered peace talks!

Bombardment of ISIS positions near Palmyra, Syria

Massive SAA Launch Of Russian MLRS

Syrian “Desert Falcons”‘ avenge Su-24 pilot who was killed by Turkmen terrorists in Syria

Patriotic Rockers Perform for Russian Soldiers in Syria


Week Sixteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria: a US invasion of Syria next? | The Vineyard of the Saker

This article was written for the Unz Review:

This week was marked by major successes for the Syria military the
Sheikh Miskeen region of the Daraa Province in the south of the country.
In the meantime in the north, the Syrian Army continues its offensive
north of the strategic Kuweires air base. But these military successes
were eclipsed by rumors that the US was setting up and air base in northern Syria, possibly near Rmeilan,
a town in the al-Hasakah Governorate in the northeast of Syria, and
that this might be the preparation for a US ground intervention.
Interestingly, the US media also began circulating rumors that the Russian were setting up a 2nd air base in northern Syria. Erdogan even declared that he “would not tolerate” a 2nd Russian air base in Kurdish Syria. And then, of course, there was the statement of Joe Biden who spoke of a US ‘military solution’ in Syria if no negotiated solution could be found. Listen to him claim that the US is capable of “taking out” Daesh:


As for Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, he declared that the 101st Airborne Division would soon be deployed to Iraq to fight Daesh in Mosul and in Syria to fight Daesh in Raqqa (so much for Obama’s sixteen promises not to have US ‘boots’ on the ground!). Predictably, such rumors resulted in some pretty wild headlines such as this one: “America and Turkey begin Ground Invasion of Syria. How Will Russia Respond?” This is a major exaggeration, to put it very mildly. Instead, lets’ look at what might really be brewing.

First, it is rather unlikely that the entire 101st will be deployed in the region. At most we are talking about a few battalions, maybe a ‘combat team’, but hardly enough to constitute an invasion force. Besides, the 101st is a light infantry division which simply is not suited for a land invasion role. In a conventional war, the 101st would support regular ground forces, but not replace them. In a counter-insurgency war, the 101st could do many things, including security, anti-terrorist operations, training of local forces, intelligence gathering, etc. But to imagine that the 101st will drive down from northern Syria to Damascus to overthrow Assad is simply not realistic. As for the airfield the USA supposedly took over in northern Iraq, take a look at a map to see for yourself where it is located: far away in the northeastern corner of the country, close to the Turkish and Iraqi borders, but very, very far from the city of Damascus or from the Russian radars in the Mediterranean or Latakia.

The Americans have announced that they are planning a two pronged offensive, one towards Mosul and another towards Raqqa. Considering that the US already has airbases in Turkey and Iraq, the only thing which this rather primitive airstrip (used for “agricultural purposes” in the past, i.e. crop dusting) would give them is a convenient place to bring specialized personnel in and out of the region, but hardly the hub for a major invasion force. Besides, it is still unclear whether the elements from the 101st will be deployed only in Iraq or also in Syria. At least one US magazine seems to think that rather than a combat force, the Rmeilan air base in Syria will be used by various type of US special forces including combat controllers, pararescue jumpers, special operations weathermen and other JSOC personnel. If so, then we are talking about a small and specialized force, not a ground invasion of any kind.

I think that regardless of the public statements made by Biden and Carter, it is too early to determine what Uncle Sam plans to do in Syria next. The airfield in Rmeilan is most likely just seen by the US as a good place to establish a presence and keep options open. I don’t believe for one second that the US has any intention of invading Syria, but if it did, we would see a much bigger logistical effort and the concentration of several large formations coming from different directions (Turkey and Jordan, possibly Iraq). In that case, Rmeilan could be used for US helicopters but not for fixed wing-aircraft, at least not without a major upgrade of the runway(s) and infrastructure.

What about the bigger question of whether the US has a “military solution” for Syria – is that really a possibility? I don’t think so for a very simple reason: the only force out there which can fight Daesh on the ground is the Syrian military. Even the Iranians and Hezbollah do not, at least right now, have the force levels needed to take on Daesh by themselves. In purely military terms, Turkey or Iran could, I suppose, launch a full scale invasion, but the political costs would be prohibitive. Plus the Turks probably don’t have the stomach for such a bloody war with no clear exit strategy. At most, the Turks want to seize a strip of land in northern Syria and keep the Kurds down. Unlike the Turks, the Iranians could at least be legally invited by the Syrians, but that would hardly assuage the USA, the KSA or the Turks which would be absolutely enraged by such an Iranian move. Having just won a major diplomatic victory over the USA and Israel, Iran probably has no desire at all to create yet another major crisis. Finally, as I said it a gazillion times ‘the Russians are *not* coming’. So that means that the only force capable of taking on Daesh is the Syrian military and I don’t see the US being able to provide anywhere near the kind of force levels to become a credible actor in this war.

The Syrians on the ground, the Russians in the skies, and some special assistance from Iran and Hezbollah – this is the only alliance which can take on Daesh and slowly squeeze them out of most of Syria. The Americans seem to want to use the Kurds in a role similar to the one played by the Syrian military, ‘boot on the ground’, but that completely ignores the fact that the Kurds are not a single force, that they do not have a regular army, that they are not Arabs and that Turkey, a key ally in any US operation, will never allow the Kurds to play a major regional role. It is possible that the Kurds, the Americans and the Iraqis could together retake Mosul, especially against a weakened Daesh. As for them taking Raqqa, I don’t see that happening, but maybe I am wrong here and Daesh is even weaker than I think it is. But that’s it. If that is what Biden calls a “military solution” then it is very much a misnomer. At most, I would personally call it an “American side show”.The Saker


Syria : Could Turkey be Gambling on an Invasion?

Kurdish forces, close to sealing the border, must beware – President Erdogan is unpredictable

By Patrick Cockburn

January 31, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “The Independent” – A month before Turkey shot down a Russian bomber which it accused of entering its airspace, Russian military intelligence had warned President Vladimir Putin that this was the Turkish plan. Diplomats familiar with the events say that Putin dismissed the warning, probably because he did not believe that Turkey would risk provoking Russia into deeper military engagement in the Syrian war.

In the event, on 24 November last year a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian bomber, killing one of the pilots, in an attack that had every sign of being a well-prepared ambush. Turkey claimed that it was responding to the Russian plane entering its airspace for 17 seconds, but the Turkish fighters made every effort to conceal themselves by flying at low altitude, and they appear to have been on a special mission to destroy the Russian aircraft.

The shooting-down – the first of a Russian plane by a Nato power since the Korean War – is important because it shows how far Turkey will go to maintain its position in the war raging on the southern side of its 550-mile border with Syria. It is a highly relevant event today because, two months further on, Turkey now faces military developments in northern Syria that pose a much more serious threat to its interests than that brief incursion into its airspace, even though Ankara made fresh claims yesterday over a new Russian violation on Friday.

The Syrian war is at a crucial stage. Over the past year the Syrian Kurds and their highly effective army, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), have taken over half of Syria’s frontier with Turkey. The main supply line for Islamic State (Isis), through the border crossing of Tal Abyad north of Raqqa, was captured by the YPG last June. Supported by intense bombardment from the US Air Force, the Kurds have been advancing in all directions, sealing off northern Syria from Turkey in the swath of territory between the Tigris and Euphrates.

The YPG only has another 60 miles to go, west of Jarabulus on the Euphrates, to close off Isis’s supply lines and those of the non-IS armed opposition, through Azzaz to Aleppo. Turkey had said that its “red line” is that there should be no YPG crossing west of the Euphrates river, though it did not react when the YPG’s Arab proxy, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), seized the dam at Tishrin on the Euphrates and threatened the IS stronghold of Manbij. Syrian Kurds are now weighing whether they dare take the strategic territory north of Aleppo and link up with a Kurdish enclave at Afrin.

Developments in the next few months may determine who are the long-term winners and losers in the region for decades. President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are advancing on several fronts under a Russian air umbrella. The five-year campaign by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s to overthrow Assad in Damascus, by backing the armed opposition, looks to be close to defeat.

Turkey could respond to this by accepting a fait accompli, conceding that it would be difficult for it to send its army into northern Syria in the face of strong objections from the US and Russia. But, if the alternative is failure and humiliation, then it may do just that. Gerard Chaliand, the French expert on irregular warfare and the politics of the Middle East, speaking in Erbil last week, said that “without Erdogan as leader, I would say the Turks would not intervene militarily [in northern Syria], but, since he is, I think they will do so”.

Erdogan has a reputation for raising the stakes as he did last year when he failed to win a parliamentary majority in the first of two elections. He took advantage of a fresh confrontation with the Turkish Kurds and the fragmentation of his opponents to win a second election in November. Direct military intervention in Syria would be risky, but Mr Challiand believes that Turkey “is capable of doing this militarily and will not be deterred by Russia”. Of course, it would not be easy. Moscow has planes in the air and anti-aircraft missiles on the ground, but Putin probably has a clear idea of the limitations on Russia’s military engagement in Syria.

Omar Sheikhmous, a veteran Syrian Kurdish leader living in Europe, says that the Syrian Kurds “should realise that the Russians and the Syrian government are not going to go to war with the Turkish army for them”. He warns that the ruling Kurdish political party, the PYD, should not exaggerate its own strength, because President Erdogan’s reaction is unpredictable.

British jets prepare for air strikes in Syria

Other Kurdish leaders believe that Turkish intervention is unlikely and that, if it was going to come, it would have happened before the Russian jet was shot down. That led to Russia reinforcing its air power in Syria and taking a much more hostile attitude towards Turkey, giving full support for Syrian Army advances in northern Latakia and around Aleppo.

For the moment, the Syrian Kurds are still deciding what they should do. They know that their quasi-state, known as Rojava, has been able to expand at explosive speed because the US needed a ground force to act in collaboration with its air campaign against Isis. Russian and American bombers have, at different times, supported the advance of the SDF towards Manbij. On the chaotic chess board of the Syrian crisis, the Kurds at this time have the same enemies as the Syrian Army, but they know that their strong position will last only as long as the war.

If there is no Turkish intervention on a significant scale then Assad and his allies are winning, because the enhanced Russian, Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah intervention has tipped the balance in their favour. The troika of regional Sunni states – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – have failed, so far, to overthrow Assad through backing the Syrian armed opposition.

Their enthusiasm for doing so is under strain. Saudi Arabia has a mercurial leadership, is enmeshed in a war in Yemen, and the price of oil may stay at $30 a barrel. Qatar’s actions in Syria are even more incalculable. “We can never figure out Qatar’s policies,” said one Gulf observer in frustration. A more caustic commentator, in Washington, adds that “Qatari foreign policy is a vanity project”, comparing it to Qatar’s desire to buy landmark buildings abroad or host the football World Cup at home.

In Syrian and Iraqi politics almost everybody ends up by overplaying their hand, mistaking transitory advantage for irreversible success. This was true of a great power like the US in Iraq in 2003, a monstrous power like Isis in 2014, and a small power like the Syrian Kurds in 2016. One of the reasons that Iran has, thus far, come out ahead in the struggle for this part of the Middle East is that the Iranians have moved cautiously and step by step.

Turkey is the last regional power that could reverse the trend of events in Syria by open military intervention, a development that cannot be discounted as the Syrian-Turkish border is progressively sealed off. But, barring this, the conflict has become so internationalised that only the US and Russia are capable of bringing it to an end.



Russian-led Coalition Heading for ‘Stunning Victory’ in Syria
Syria: ISIL Commander Detonates Himself among Al-Nusra Members in Damascus
ISIL’s Oil Supply Route in Aleppo on Verge of Collapse by Syrian Army, Kurds
Russia’s Hi-Tech Campaign in Syria Becomes a ‘Sobering Experience’ for NATO
URGENT: Syrian Army Captures Strategic Village in Northern Aleppo
Syrian Warplanes Target Militants’ Oil Tankers in Sweida
Syrian Army Launches Third Phase of Lattakia Operation


Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories



Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.