Syria Summary - A New Russian
Proposal And A Battle For The South
Moon Of Alabama
- Russia is extremely active in search of a
diplomatic way forward in the Syria conflict.
Last month talks were held in Russia with the
Syrian foreign minister and the Iranian foreign
minister. New plans were discussed and agreed
few days ago Russia's foreign minister had talks
with the U.S. Secretary of State. This week a
visit of Merkel to Putin followed. On the same
day Putin had a phone-call with Trump. A new
round of the Astana piece talks under Russian
sponsorship with the Syrian opposition and a
Syrian government delegation is ongoing. (Unlike
before the U.S.
high State Department official to this round.)
Today Putin met with the Turkish president
Russia is offering a proposal
According to the documents obtained by
Sputnik, Russia proposed to set up four
security zones — in the Idlib province, to
the north of the city of Homs, in Eastern
Ghouta and in the south of the country.
rough draft offers:
de-escalation zones aimed to "put an
immediate end to the violence" and "to
provide conditions for safe, voluntary
return of refugees"
security zones or buffers created around the
de-escalation zones with checkpoints and
monitoring centers manned by Syrian
government troops and "rebels"
military units from unspecified "observer
countries" could be deployed to these
Turkey, Iran and Russia are named as as
guarantors and will create a joint working
group immediately after the de-escalation is
agreed upon between the Syrian parties.
The crux with the proposal is of course al-Qaeda
which rules in Idleb and is also an important
power in the other areas. Russia offers the
de-escalation zones as a way to further
negotiations and settlement only under the
condition that al-Qaeda is eliminated from the
zones. In the press conference with Erdogan
terrorists, in spite of creation of these
zones the war on terror will be ongoing -
against such organizations as so-called
Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and those
ones that are put on the list of terrorist
organizations approved by the United
Nations," Putin said.
now the "rebels" are to a large part associated
with Jabhat al-Nusra aka al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda
terrorist hardcore is the backbone of their
army. The U.S. sees al-Qaeda, at least
temporarily, as a valuable proxy. They will
surely not agree to give up on that.
draft proposal is another attempt to get Turkey
and the U.S. to finally admit that there is an
al-Qaeda problem, that a UN designated terrorist
organization is at the core of these areas, and
that no peace can be achieved unless al-Qaeda
and the associated elements are eliminated. I
doubt very much that Turkey and the various
sponsors of al-Qaeda in Syria will agree to that
plan. The Russian government surely knows this
but it sees an advantage in dragging the problem
into the open whenever possible.
via ISW -
Meanwhile military operations continues
throughout Syria. Turkey shelled Syrian-Kurdish
areas in the north-east and in the north-west.
It is pressing the U.S. to shun the Kurds as
partner in the fight with ISIS and offers
Turkish troops as replacement. But the U.S. does
not agree with that plan. It sent a platoon of
Ranger Regiment 75 up to the Kurdish held
Syrian-Turkish border in the east to stop the
Turkish shelling. Likewise Russia sent a platoon
to the border in the western area around Afrin.
That was a clear (coordinated?) message to
Erdogan from the two big powers involved in the
airborne warning and control aircraft to Syria.
These can detect enemy fighter approaches over
600 kilometer range and direct friendly aircraft
against such targets.
In the east the Kurdish troops under the control
of U.S. "advisors" have retrieved the city of
Tabqa from the Islamic State. The Tabqa
Euphrates dam right north of to city is still
held by ISIS but will be the next target on the
way to Raqqa. So far no further U.S. troops have
arrived. There are rumors of a U.S. group
concentrating in east Jordan ready to move up
through the Syrian desert towards Raqqa. This
would split Syria in half and
embattled eastern U.S. proxy enclave. I assume
that this move has been held back for political
reason but could proceed in any moment.
also under pressure in the area around Palmyra
where the Syrian army is recovering oil-fields
and pushing ISIS further east.
ISIS responded to its defeat near Raqqa by
bombers to Rajm al-Salibi, near Shaddadi, in
Hassakeh province next to the Syrian-Iraqi
border. This is deep in the Kurdish held areas.
The bombers exploded next to Kurdish security
forces barracks at a displaced persons camp.
Some 30 people were killed. Another suicide bomb
went off in "rebel" held areas near the western
border with Turkey. The local "rebel" office for
civilian services in Azaz was
blown up and at
least five people were killed.
Near Damascus renewed infighting is ongoing
within the "rebel"-held east-Ghouta enclave (map).
The "Islamic Army" under Mohammad Alloush is
trying to create a monopoly of force in the area
presumably to then negotiate some agreement with
the Syrian government. Jaish al-Islam attacked
the significant al-Qaeda contingent in the area.
Over 120 fighters on the various "rebel" sides
have been killed so far. The area is surrounded
by the Syrian army which enjoys watching the
The U.S., Jordan and Israel have a plan to
install a southern "no fly zone" which means to
south-western part of Syria. To achieve that
they need to capture the city of Daraa which is
the main administrative center for the area.
Daraa city is at the southern point of the
government held area. It is under attack from
US. controlled "rebel" forces but the Syrian
army has held its area. The situation is
dangerous for Damascus city. Israel could now
march from the west through "rebel" held areas
right to the doors of Damascus without any
problem. To eliminate that danger Hizbullah has
large operation from the north along the
Syrian-Israeli border towards the Quneitra area.
At the same time forces move from around
Damascus to evict "rebels" from the area. This
could easily become a major battle involving
"rebels", Israeli and Jordanian forces on one
side against Hizbullah and the Syrian army on
would clearly prefer to find a political
solution instead of continuing or escalating the
war. This even if it means to give up control
over some parts of Syria. For the moment the
U.S. seems ready to listen and may even agree to
some deal. But there are still way to many
spoilers on the ground 8ant their sponsors) who
will do their best to disrupt any ceasefire or
Pat Lang has long been
urging for a
big Syrian army attack on Idleb governate and
city to eliminate al-Qaeda from the area. But
the Syrian and Russian governments know that
such a fight, with the too small forces they
have, would bog down as long as the "rebels" and
al-Qaeda get resupplied through the Turkish
border. Their aim in the ongoing negotiations is
to move the U.S. and Turkey into some agreement
that would stop such supplies to those
terrorists. Only when that happens can Idleb and
all of Syria be freed.
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