Syria Daily, Dec 17: 100+ Killed As Regime Retaliates for Loss of Bases

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LATEST: Jabhat al-Nusra Accused of Killing Senior Insurgent Commander in Southern Syria

UPDATE 1200 GMT: A pro-regime site has acknowledged that 48 Syrian troops from the 11th Tank Division and militia were killed in the insurgency’s takeover of the Wadi ad-Deif base.

Among the dead and injured were Brigadier General Mou’az Waakad Abu ‘Assaa, two colonels, a captain, and two lieutenants.

The site also said that some soldiers from the Division were badly wounded as they withdrew south to Hama Province.


For the first day in weeks, the number of deaths recorded by the activists of Syria’s Local Coordination Committees rose above 100, as the Assad regime retaliated for the loss of two major bases in Idlib Province in the northwest of the country.

The LCC, which focuses on civilian casualties, said 102 people died on Tuesday. More than 30 of the dead were in Idlib Province, where the regime bombed towns and villages near the Wadi ad-Deif and Hamidiyah bases.

Aftermath of an attack on the town of Maarat al-Num’an:

Insurgents completed the takeover of the bases, under siege for more than two years, on Monday. Regime forces retreated south towards Hama Province, but claims circulated that more than 250 were captured as they fled.

Opposition fighters amid destroyed military vehicles in the Idlib countryside:

State news agency SANA continues to ignore the loss of the bases and does not mention Tuesday’s bombing. Instead, it declares:

Army units killed terrorists, injured others and destroyed their vehicles in Maaret al-Numan, Saraqeb, Kfarrouma, Tal Minnes, Masa, Byaa al-Kabira, Abu al-Duhour, Talab village, Tal al-Daman, Jeftallek, al-Deir al-Sharqi, Haj Hammoud, Jebb al-Ahmar, Kafr Nubbul and Tal Mardikh in the countryside of the northern province of Idleb.


Jabhat al-Nusra Accused of Killing Senior Insurgent Commander in Southern Syria

The Islamist faction Jabhat Al Nusra has been accused of killing a senior commander in another insurgent faction in Daraa Province in southern Syria.

Mousab Ali Qarfan, also known as Mousab Zaytouneh, was a leader of the Shuhada al-Yarmouk Brigades, which is part of the Free Syrian Army. He and three of his fighters were slain in Sahem El Gola on Monday.

Opposition sources said senior Jabhat al-Nusra commanders believed Zaytouneh was secretly working with the Islamic State.

Other insurgent commanders on the southern front denied the allegations. Some claimed that Jabhat al-Nusra wants to weaken the “moderate” insurgency, while some said the rumor was part of a psychological warfare programme by regime forces.

The House of Justice, a court set up by the insurgency, brokered a temporary truce and proposed an armed force of insurgents as a buffer zone between the Yarmouk Brigades and Jabhat al-Nusra. The Islamist faction has been told to pull back from one of the checkpoints that it controls.

However, Jabhat al-Nusra and another Islamic faction, Harakat Al Muthana, have withdrawn from the proceedings.

Deraa Governorate Council responded, “We call on the brothers in Liwa Shuhada Al Yarmouk and the brothers in Jabhat Al Nusra to exercise self restraint and to refer their case to the court in Houran, in the House of Justice to achieve justice.”

UN Aid Head to Security Council: “We Have Run Out of Words to Explain Brutality”

The head of the UN aid agencies, Valerie Amos, told the Security Council on Tuesday, “Every time we use a new figure in relation to the Syrian crisis, we say that it is unprecedented. We have run out of words to fully explain the brutality, violence and callous disregard for human life which is a hallmark of this crisis.”

Amos urged Security Council members to ensure all parties in Syria to take steps outlined in resolutions: end indiscriminate use of weapons, protect children from violations, lift sieges on city, and allow unhindered humanitarian assistance.

“Even in war, there are rules,” she said.

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28 COMMENTS

  1. PERHAPS THE BEST OF MANY ARTICLES YESTERDAY ON RUSSIA’S ECONOMIC CRISIS

    Does the ruble’s rocky past foretell its future?

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2014/1216/Does-the-ruble-s-rocky-past-foretell-its-future-video

    Tweets and Other Good Stuff on Putin’s Economic Crisis

    #1: The Kremlin is praying for a resurgence in the oil price, but at the moment that seems unlikely. It could impose a moratorium on the repayment of foreign debt, but that would make it a pariah in the eyes of foreign investors. It could try to impose capital controls, to prevent money leaving the country; but even the prospect of such a move risks having the opposite effect, and hastening capital flight. Unless Russia is prepared to show serious commitment to reform—and moves to calm things in Ukraine—it should expect the economic turmoil to continue.–The Economist

    #2: panicky consumers are rushing out to buy home appliances before they became even more expensive.

    #3: Wasn’t it just a few short weeks ago they were bragging about the impending collapse of the US dollar? Now they’re doing everything they can to get their hands on them.

    #4: Once the US Tank Killer weapons arrive in Ukraine, some scrap yard owner is gonna become a millionaire salvaging blown up Russian tanks. They’ll knock the drivers helmet right off, with his head still inside.

    (Note: the writer assumes Obama would make a sensible countermove to Putin’s deeds. You surely can’t assume that).

    #5: What do Russians want the most? A loaf of bread or Ukraine?

    #6: I advise the Russian people to invest in wheelbarrows. Soon they will need them to carry their money around.

    #7: The problems were long in the making. Russia is highly dependent on oil revenues (hydrocarbons contribute over half the federal budget and two-thirds of exports) and over the past decade it has failed to diversify its economy. It is horribly corrupt, has weak institutions and no real property rights. The Kremlin distributes oil money via state banks to firms and projects which it selects on the basis of their political importance and their pro-Putin stance, rather than trusting the market to allocate capital to the most efficient firms. If you look at wealth, Russia is the world’s second-most unequal country. Its working-age population is shrinking fast.–The Economist

    –8. It was Euros not dollars that reached a rate of 100 rubles to 1 yesterday. The high for dollars was 80 rubles for one dollar.

    #9: “Even in our nightmares we couldn’t have imagined what is happening now a year ago,” said the deputy chairman of Russia’s central bank, Sergei Shvetsov, as the currency slid further against the dollar and euro….Shvetsov said raising the interest rates had been “a choice between really bad and really, really bad”

    #10: Financier shoots himself in the mouth in Moscow’s Hotel National, possibly due to stress over financial markets.

    Here’s the best article I’ve seen yet on the Russian propaganda war had how it differs from the old Soviet Days:

    Russia and the Menace of Unreality

    How Vladimir Putin is revolutionizing information warfare

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/09/russia-putin-revolutionizing-information-warfare/379880/?single_page=true

    • So is this the focus of the muslim jihadists. Using the dhimmi west to wage an economic jihad on russia. For What? Corruption is rife in every government and not only does the Russian government control information. So why the singling out of Russia?

      • Russia is singled out because of its support for the Assad regime, though RT devotes too much attention to Russian affairs. These are mostly off-topic for a blog dedicated to the Syrian Civil War and should be moved a blog more directly related to Russian affairs – I don’t come here to read about Putin, the war in the Ukraine, or the Russian economy.

        • RT is the star of the show here, and is invaluable in maintaining a sensible and credible sense of narrative. Unfortunately external actors are just as relevant to the Syrian War as day to day battles, thats why Russia and Obama and Iran get the attention they deserve with regards to Syria. Also like RT we remember the begging when the protesters where peaceful ( eg,the regime bashed an old man and threw him inside the boot of a car to be tortured .on video. ) only to have Russia and Iran blaming Western conspiracies and digging in behind Ass-ad. When protesters where thinking that West would the very least be sympathetic and stand by them, instead we got indecisive, confused and sometimes racist Western governments hoping these stupid Muslims would just grow up etc. etc. That is why RT has many fans and is able keep a sense of perspective as is EA in general as opposed to mainstream rehashed news.

          • The actions of Russia and Iran that directly involve Syria are relevant – the state of the Russian economy, currency, or government are not relevant unless they are framed in such a way that their impact on Syria is highlighted. For example, the NY Times article on the Ruble’s fall in value yesterday is not a story that should be included here, however a theoretical article that looked at the effects of the ruble’s value on Russia’s ability to support Assad and/or his ability to continue purchasing arms from Russia should be included.

            RT is mainly a compiler of external information whose value comes not from his partisan commentary but from the fact that he links a lot of sources on Syria in a single place on a daily basis. His inclusion of large amounts of extraneous articles on DC or Russian politics is more a function of his efforts as an activist than an enhancement of his role as an information compiler, and are not of value or interest to me personally. There are other, better sources for that information.

              • I go to the press more generally for information about whats happening in DC – there are also many blogs though all have a political bent to some degree, not a problem as long as you are aware of it as a reader (Huff Post, Daily Kos, Boing Boing, Daily Dish, etc.). In terms of Russia, my primary interest is in the Caucasus and I read the Caucasian Knot (http://eng.kavkaz-uzel.ru/), it’s the best English-language site I know of for news on that region. For Russia more generally I’m aware of a couple blogs such as Vostok Cable and Da Russophile but since I don’t read them consistently and can’t personally say much about them. Da Russophile tries to position itself as debunking Western representations of Russia, primarily in contemporary media. Vostok News has many listed contributors, mostly Master’s and PhD students in fields related to Russia. I’m sure there are more senior sites out there, as well.

  2. FASCINATING DETAILS ON TACTICS REBELS USED TO PULL OFF THEIR BIG VICTORIES THIS WEEK

    An Ahrar al-Sham commander confirmed to Al-Jazeera that 2,300 fighters took part in the engagements that led to rebel forces seizing the Wadi Deif area.

    For four days, hit-and-run strikes have been carried out, where fighters go into combat armed with suicide vests they can detonate if cornered or captured.

    These tactics were used to form a unified attack from nine points onto 40 positions, and led to the death of 200 hundred regime soldiers and the injury of 500 more.

    According to the field commander, the Wadi Deif area was “the jewel of the north and the problem of the north for the rebels.”

    “The FSA no longer has an active presence in Idlib. The factions present […] do not fly the FSA flag. They tend toward Islamism.”

    Source: Lebanon’s NOW

    IRAQ & SYRIAN SUNNIS WHO LISTENED TO OBAMA’s PLEAS TO FIGHT ISIS GOT SLAUGHTERED WHEN HE DOUBLE CROSSED THEM

    If there’s one thing Obama has proven repeatedly again is that his word (like his threats) ain’t worth shit.

    In Iraq it was Obama who helped betray the Sunni Awakening Movement Bush had put together. Now he is urging Sunnis to join the fight against ISIS. When they do and get in trouble, he stands by and watches as ISIS slaughers them, without the slightest attempt to bomb ISIS. For one thing such missions have to be approved by Suzi “Micromanager” Rice and get 50 signatures from His Hesitancy’s security teams in the White House.

    Here are two stories of Sunnis of what happened to Sunnis who got suckered by Obama. Don’t assume word hasn’t gotten around and Sunni trust in Obama is as low as my own,

    #1: In Iraq, Sunni tribes pay heavy toll for joining fight against Islamic State

    http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-sunni-tribes-pay-heavy-toll-joining-fight-120028911.html

    #2: Iraq jihadists release pictures of mass execution

    http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-jihadists-release-pictures-mass-execution-002550204.html

    In Syria near Deir Ezzor ISIS murdered over 700 members of a Sunni tribe that rose up against it! It took days for ISIS to win that victory and all the time Barak “You Can Trust Me” Obama stood by and did nothing.

    Yes, you can trust him all right. ISIS is famous for backstabbing allies but it can’t come close to Obama in that area.

    • Deir Ezzor happened in August I believe, before Obama began bombing Isis around the 23rd September. This is just one thing I picked up since I don’t have the time to go through the abundance of information. So, I take it you are anti-assad. Should assad be taken out of the way, who would you like to run the government of syria from then on?

  3. lou zay ‏@lou_zay 7m7 minutes ago

    BREAKING: Regime forces retreating from Ariha base (W Idlib) in direction of Latakia

    archicivilians ‏@archicivilians now

    Activists said that they didn’t stop in #Ariha and may continue toward #Latakia or al-Ghab Plain in W-#Hamah.

      • it’s bad news cos this assad terrorists would be easier to neutralize if they stayed in their isolated pockets where they could be besiedged and destroyed

        • The rebels aren’t in a position to threaten Idlib yet. If they still hold Mastouma, Baath Vanguards camp and Ariha still need to be dealt with. Fall of Qarmeed makes the task easier, but it’s not quite making it a fait accompli.

          Interesting though that the regime doesn’t seem to be mounting a counterattack. Just a year ago, that would of been unheard of.

          • @Ivan – I agree with you. The regime also hold a few towns directly north of Idlib city. I don’t remember the names of them but they are significant sized towns.

            In the midst of the huge rebel momentum in Idlib the regime didn’t make a move from anywhere in Idlib or Northern Hama. It sort of seems that the regime really are at least contemplating a withdrawal plan. I understand they still hold some strong positions with Idlib, Ariha and the surrounding bases as well as Jisr Al-Shighour. However, the regime outlook here doesn’t look good. They have a choice of letting the fight drag out over a long period of time and most likely continue to lose ground or choose to reinforce elsewhere.

  4. My driving “assumption” is that Russia and Iran have played a central role in allowing events in Syria to get our of hand, as has Obama in a totally different way.

    Supported by Putin, his Iranian ally virtually runs Syria. It has taken over military and security organs just as Germany ran Italy after rescuing Mussolini from his own people and restoring him to power. Therefore it follows that any developments that hinder Russian and Iranian ability to support Assad are not “off topic” but extremely relevant.

    Had Putin and Khamenei not insisted Iran crack down on pro-democracy demonstrators rather than give agree to demands and.had both not promised Assad they’d do whatever it takes to support him in that case, we wouldn’t be in this boat today. What motivated them?

    REASON #1: Fear their own people would want what Syrians would have gotten too easily.

    REASON #2: Quests to establish and/or preserve force-base empires of the sort Europe or the USA no longer wants because they are a pain in the ass with no benefits other than national prestige.

    REASON #3: the need to promote xenophobia toward a too attractive West as a diversion need for enemies and hostility to the West lest their own people notice the contrasting extent of incompetence and corruption back home. None of the following is true: “the West is after you.” “The West wants what you have?” and “the West wants to conquer your shithole and take on your problems.” Think of pickpockets who use a companion to bump and distract victims.

    Using a clever blend of half truths and fallacy of degree, hired regime trolls are paid to respond to accounts of their regimes’ crimes and incompetence by arguing that “we do the same” and “we have problems too.” Implicit assumption: It is possible for countries to be problem free. No matter how successful one is by comparison, that’s an obvious impossibility. Putin and Iran can only wish they had our problems. Because it functions so well by comparison, America does not need diversions, enemies or xenophobia to con and distact folks.

    Domestic politics did influence Obama’s choices in Syria but in a different and cowardly way. Catering to isolationists, he failed to lead when we needed a leader, using the lie that “we had no good choices” even as Hillary, Petreus, Gates and others argued otherwise. We were told “nothing I can do do could make a difference” as Obama allowed things to fester, creating massive problems that otherwise would not exist today.

    Such political timidity concerns did not restrain FDR who believed otherwise. Had he “led” like Obama or the swastika would be flying over the White House today. Faced with dominant “America First” isolationism, FDR defied wrong-headed public opinion to do what Obama would never have done: introduce lend lease. Also unlike Obama, FDR sought to change and inform public opinon, rather than whine over how it handicapped him and made intelligent moves impossible. By such leadership and lucky for us, FDR kept Great Britain and the USSR afloat (lucky for us) until the day that the inevitable arrived at Pearl Harbor.

    Imagine our military plight had he catered to the Know Nothings as Obama does.

    • The above is addressed to Lea’s complaint.

      Re: Corruption is rife in every government and not only does the Russian government control information. So why the singling out of Russia? See the paragraph where I note the use of fallacy of degree and half truth to suggest an equality of grievances that just isn’t there. Lea just offered a prime example. Hence the attention to Ferguson, Missouri, ironiclaly by supporters of a regime that just killed 100 innocent civilians in one day in standard retaliation for losing a battle.

    • I forgot to mention one other way in which Russia & Syria are linked. Obama’s Rose Garden Act, his betrayal of rebels and his Munich-style suck up and roll over treatment of Iran inspired Putin’s miscalculation that he could invade the Ukraine without consequences. Politically Obama was forced to act but characteristically resorted to half measures, responding with sanctions only and failing to make Putin’s aggression more costly by providing the the Ukrainians with serious ATGMs and anti-air. Even after Congress passed a bill to pay for such measures, Obama ponders, dithers and resists.

      Notice how Obama typically is taking all the credit for Putin’s poltical problems as if sanctions alone were the cause. Similarly, a post yesterday suggested that Obama must have been secretly responsible for the rebel victories this week above Hama. Obama always takes the credit where none is due while passing the blame to others (the CIA, the rebels he crippled) where blame lies in the White House.

      How could Obama have caused the victory in Hama? Get real.

      Though it did involved many opposition forces and was not an “Al Queda” (aka JAN) victory as the SANA and its Syrian Observatory mouthpiece claimed, JAN did play a major role–the same JAN who is Obama is bombing by using Gulf of Tonkin-style lies.

  5. Institute for Study of War Offers a Brutal Report on Dissovlng Support among Alawites and the Regime’s attempts to counter by force

    Excerpts from: ASSAD REGIME IS FACING ITS MOST SEVERE CRISIS IN YEARS

    Despite reinforcement from tens of thousands of foreign volunteers, Lebanese Hezbollah militants, and pro-government militias, regime forces have proven unable to decisively overcome rebel brigades on the battlefield…

    At the same time, key demographics within the President Bashar al-Assad’s support base – including the Alawite population – have exhibited growing signs of dissatisfaction with the Syrian regime.

    Pre-existing grievances related to repression and social inequities have merged with high casualty counts and rising economic stress to fuel a sense of exhaustion among regime supporters..Faced with both a war-weary populace and a burgeoning manpower deficit that threatens its survival, the Syrian regime has resorted to a nation-wide forced conscription campaign – threatening to further split the regime from its base.

    http://iswsyria.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-assad-regime-under-stress.html#ixzz3MAuzJcx9

    CEDRIC LAROUSSE MAY BE ON TO SOMETHING IN EXPLAINING ASSAD’S IDLIB MOVES TODAY

    Larousse was wrong in predicting disaster for rebels in the battle for bases near Maarat Al Numann but he may well be right about what Assad is up to. I’ve also added a list of tweets and/or observations of other developments concerning Syria.

    #1: “Regime is trying to create a second Raqqa scenario. Loyalists withdrawal from 4 bases in few days in Idlib governorate. Idea clearly to reinforce the real loyalists strongholds as Reef Hama and Latakia governate and to give Idlib to Qaeda affiliates. Without any FSA attempt to retake the area and to clash with Nusra, the emirate will be consolidated soon with Assad ordered retreat. Obama will blame rebels for this.”–Cedric Larousse.

    (Assad knows these troops will soon be lost anyway if not pulled out, so he is repeating the same stunt as in Raqaa but with JAN instead of ISIS benefitting. The obvious catch is that this move endangers regime forces in Aleppo just as the Raqaa endangered D-17 and Tabqa. He can’t withdraw forces in Aleppo. To me, it seems opposition forces can finish up in Abu Dufour and take all regime positions in Aleppo far faster than they might have otherwise, meaning Aleppo comes under attack sooner. Obama may not appreciate that JAN forces he bombed and the IF will now benefit and will play the role of ISIS fighters he vetoed for the moderates. Now the Strategy Genius is going to be stuck with them as the lesser of two evils. Obama may get his anti-ISIS army but not the one he’d prefer)

    #2: Activists: Regime convoys including +40 military vehicles retreating from bases around #Mastumeh toward Ariha.

    #3: Two years ago Saudi Arabia went to Putin to ask for a stop of support to Assad. Putin said ‘F U’. Now SA is saying ‘F U’ and wrecking Putin.–Not a Spy.

    (As a “Bully Gets HIs Own Medicine” Act this is similar to how the Russian regime mocked the dollar as 2014 began and suggested the ruble would make a better world currency )

    #4: Isis has imposed on each of the three villages of Sha’itat a quota of guns+cartridges to Isis in exchange for peace. –Hassan Hassan.

    #5: THE TRIUMPH OF HYPOCRISY. While interfering massively in the internal affairs of Syria, the Ukraine and nearby countries, note how Putin lies about the amazingly omnipresent and omnipotent CIA being responsible for all Russia complaints about corruption, the economy, lack of democracy and free press and speech. Why not blame the Jews and Masons as well?)–Red Tornadoes

    #6. The only sanction that has worked: Russian banks are shut out of international capital markets, causing the biggest state-run banks to face major profit losses. Now Russian banks are turning to a cash-strapped Russian government for financial relief.–From the “Losing Streak” article above.

    #7: “Thanks to Vladimir Putin, Ukrainians have discovered an identity, a sense of solidarity and sense of patriotism that they never had in the last 25 years, or arguably have never had at all in the last number of decades,” –Alexander Motyl, professor of political science at Rutgers University

    #8. Did an Antonov full of Hazari Afghans land in Latakia lately? all I see 2day is pix of dead pro Assad Afghan militias in streets of Aleppo–the 47th. Markito has been posting pictures of dead Afghans and Hazari militia working for a regime which has so little legitimacy it depends on non-Syrians to do most of its fighting anymore–another nice economic for Iran.

    (Thus, the need to neutralize all airports and land connections to Aleppo, once Abu Duhour and the Idlib area is in rebel hands–by speeding the latter up, Assad is also speeding up Aleppo’s fall. HIs troops there are likely to be caught between ISIS and rebels with no way out)

    9. wreckage of BMP on highway after rebels retake Tal Malah
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY9FR7b3s7U

    (More to come)

    • #10: Hizbollah’s Chief of International Ops was a Mossad agent

      http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/188736

      #11: Reports that Israeli IDF jets are taking a sneak peak inside Syrian airspace in Quneitra.

      #12: The rebels capture of Tal Malah opens the strategic highway to the Ghab Plain. According to Paradoxy, at least a dozen regime forces were killed & a dozen captured, many reportedly fled.

      http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.305179&lon=36.520185&z=14&m=b

      #13: Apple Stops Online Sales in Russia Over Ruble Fluctuations

      (The problem is that with rubles fluctuating so much Apple has no idea what to charge)

      #14: Life News, the channel with the ethics of a British tabloid and the operating methods of the KGB, to halve its staff (casualties of the current economic collapse).

      #15: Americans going to Cuba, Russians going to Crimea. I think we’re getting the better deal.–Ian Bremmer (Note: Even Thailand is unaffordable for most Russians these days).

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