Syria Daily, May 4: The Last Holdout of Assad Forces in Jisr al-Shughour



In a sequel to last week’s capture of Jisr al-Shughour by rebels, a group of President Assad’s troops are still holding out in the National Hospital in the key city near the Turkish border.

A rebel coalition under the Jaish al-Fatah operations room swept into Jisr al-Shughour on 26 April, the fourth day of their offensive across southern Idlib and northern Hama Provinces. The city is on the main highway between Aleppo and Latakia in western Syria on the Mediterranean.

However, about 200 Syrian soldiers continued to resist attacks as they were surrounded. On Friday, activists said more than 50 were captured after a vehicle bomb was exploded at the main entrance of the hospital.

However, pro-Assad outlets continued on Sunday to circulate photographs of the troops and claimed that they had repelled more assaults.


Among Assad supporters, the holdout of the soldiers is becoming a narrative of victory and sacrifice to compensate for the serious losses of the regime in the past five weeks, including the loss of the provincial capital Idlib on March 28 and the next-to-last Syrian military camp, Qarmeed, south of Idlib city.

Idlib city and Jisr al-Shughour appear to be beyond recovery by Syrian forces. However, pro-regime outlets are loudly claiming success in countering the rebel offensive south of Jisr al-Shughour in the al-Ghab Plain. Fighting is ongoing on several fronts across a large area.

Success in al-Ghab for the rebels would further isolate Syrian forces in southern Idlib from those in the west. It could also open the way for a reble move towards Hama, Syria’s 4th-largest city and a symbol of the 2011 uprising against President Assad.

Jabhat al-Nusra Try to Assassinate Major General in Damascus

Jabhat al-Nusra have claimed a suicide bombing in Damascus on Monday which tried to assassinate Major General Mohammed Eid.

The attack was carried out in the Rukn el-Din district. Eid, who oversees logistics in the Syrian military, and two bodyguards were reportedly wounded. A third bodyguard was killed.


A group of attackers on a motorcycle charged the General’s entourage. A security official said one detonated a suicide belt, and the others were killed in a firefight with Syrian forces.

Regime Attacks Close Main Hospital in Aleppo

A main hospital in the rebel-held part of Aleppo has suspended all of its activities after regime attacks with barrel bombs and rockets.

The al-Sakhour hospital closed after it was bombed at least twice on consecutive days last week.

Two other medical facilities and an ambulance were targeted in the last three weeks, according to Médecins Sans Frontières.

The al-Sakhour hospital was one of the two existing hospitals in the area of about 400,000 people. In March, the hospital admitted 2,444 patients and performed more than 300 trauma surgeries.

In June 2014 the hospital closed for several weeks because of extensive structural damage from airstrikes.

The activities of another medical center have been suspended since April 17, days after an air raid targeted an ambulance and killed the driver, three medical staff, and one civilian. Six civilians were injured.

Picture & Audio: Victims of Weekend Attack on Aleppo Kindergarten

Blogger Zaina Erhaim, who was close to last weekend’s regime bombing of an Aleppo kindergarten that killed at least 12 people, posts a photograph of injured boys — one still clutching his backpack:


Speaking with the BBC, Erhaim describes the attack, “I could hear their screams from my house”:

Local Sources: Regime Has Not Captured Town of Mayda’a, Near Damascus

Local sources continue to challenge the Syrian military’s claim that it has taken “full control” of Mayda’a, northeast of Damascus.

The military issued the statement on Sunday, but the rebel faction Jaish al-Islam asserted that it had repelled the regime attack infiltrating the town, killing dozens of troops.

The local sources said on Monday that Jaish al-Islam still hold Mayda’a.

Media activist Omran Abu Salloum inside the town:

The town is important because it is the sole rebel link between Damascus’s northeast suburbs, one of its bases of operations, and al-Dumayr further to the northeast.

State Media Deny Reports That Head of Intelligence Mamlouk Has Terminal Cancer

Syrian State news agency SANA has denied claims that the head of intelligence, General Ali Mamlouk, is terminally ill with leukemia.

The website said Mamlouk is “on top of his work and carrying out his functions normally”. It asserted that the reports of cancer are part of an organized “false media campaign”.

Prominent Syrian activists began circulating the claim last Thursday:

Mamlouk was named head of the General Security Directorate by President Assad in 2005 and became head of the National Security Bureau, overseeing all intelligence and security services, in July 2012 after bombing of a Damascus security headquarters that killed several high-ranking officials.

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  1. An interesting interview with an FSA commander in the Ghab Plains region.

    “Rebel advances of the past month have already changed the image of the once fractious resistance, as well as the Assad forces. Rebel commanders said it’s also changed the U.S. view of the Syrian conflict.

    “The Americans didn’t support the battle of Idlib,” said Mohamad al Ghabi, who claims to command a moderate force of 3,600 that includes 100 officers and 2,000 military defectors. “But they supported the battle of Jisr al Shughour and the Ghab valley.”

    That support came in the form of TOW anti-tank missiles and other military and logistical support. Ghabi, whose Sham Front is not among U.S. aid recipients, said other organizations that fought at Jisr al Shughour had U.S. supplies.

    Radoon did not fight at Jisr al Shughour, but he said U.S. contacts supplied him with TOW missiles weeks ago when he explained his plans for countering government forces in the Ghab valley.

    Ghabi said he’s hopeful that more rebel victories will quickly lead to a routing of government forces throughout northern Syria. If government troops are forced from Ariha, anti-Assad groups will control a vast territory from Hama to the Turkish border, and linking three provinces – Idlib, Hama and Latakia.

    Key to the victories, he said, is a willingness of moderates, Islamists and al Qaida’s Nusra to work together.

    “After four years of disunity, we came to the conclusion that if we are not united, we will not be able to defeat the regime,” said Ghabi. “So even if we don’t agree in our thoughts or our ideology, we must agree on the military task. We all share the same goal: toppling the Assad regime.””

    “But both Raddoon and Ghabi acknowledge concerns about what will follow if Ariha falls. Radoon says he’s managed to keep the Islamists and Nusra out of the Ghab valley offensive, but whether he can do that after Ariha falls is unclear. They worry the Islamists and Nusra will attack Christians and Alawites who’ve backed Assad.

    “We are expecting trouble after Ariha,” he said. “Where will the Fateh group go after Ariha falls? They will go to our areas, mixed areas.”

    Already, said Radoon, the Islamists and Nusra have far more weaponry, and the booty from Ariha will strengthen them further.

    “We cannot speculate on what they will do,” he said.

    One hope, Ghabi said, is more help from the United States. “If you give me support for 10,000 fighters, I will change the dialectic of the whole area,” he said. “We have professional officers. If we have support, we can rebuild the Free Syrian Army. In this case, people will come to the conclusion that there is an alternative to the regime of Bashar al Assad.””

    Read more here:

    • @Ian – That was a really great article. I think it highlights what the normal average Syrian is thinking. What I found interesting is the willingness to work militarily with Nusra and other hard-line Islamic groups but at the same time have a weariness about allowing Nusra to join the offensive in the Ghab plain. There is definitely a legitimate concern about what Nusra will do when they reach the minority towns in Northern Hama but there is also a large majority of people like the commanders in this interview who refuse to make this conflict sectarian.

      Another interesting topic is the continuation of the offensive in Idlib and the possibility that 5000 regime troops still remain. Also, these 5000 remaining troops are most likely battle tested. Taking the remainder of Idlib won’t be an easy task for the rebels and the regime are still well armed. However, the heavy weaponry most likely cannot be moved out of Idlib without a major offensive by the regime in the Ghab plain. I can’t imagine the heavy weaponry moving safely out of Idlib in those narrow supply lines.

    • It’s truly amazing to me how there are people on this site who read this article, which is a clear open source indication of US involvement and support to the opposition, and then continue to drone on mindlessly about how the US isn’t doing anything. Ideology trumping rationality, it’s textbook.

      • I can’t speak for the others but the real problem is not enough support to the right rebels. Since the FSA is not being supplied with better weapons by the west, some fighter go and join the likes of JAN because they better weapons. That’s the main issue i have.
        So it’s not doing enough, if the FSA is given better weapons sooner it means that a) if can fight the Baathists and Daesh better b] this will naturally end the war faster as they have the advantage over their enemies c] more people will join it because it has the best weapons so for the fighter point of view it means he can defend himself better and get his revenge more effectively d] if they have the best weapons it will deter other rebel groups like JAN from attacking them in the future as they will be out gunned.
        I don’t feel Obama is a callous man who likes seeing Syrians slaughtered, but I think his obsession of a nuclear deal with Iran is preventing him from doing what is right. I don’t understand why anyone thinks it will work, when they tried the same thing with North Korea (who about as anti-West) and they still built nukes anyway. Unlike the IRI, the DPRK could be pressured by China to agree, but as Persian regime is not dependent on another country so it is even less likely to work. So that’s my beef with Obama. Funny story Jon H my Greek friend once asked me why I hate Adolf Khamenei and I listed about 10 reasons but managed to stop my from going on a 20 minute long rant about how I despise that sack o’ crap.

        • So what is right? Let’s say your the man in charge. Let’s say you give FSA-aligned organizations in the north more weapons. What do you do when some of those organizations fold to extremist organizations, like Harakat al-Hazm did to JaN recently? The fall of their headquarters provided JaN with warehouses full of American-supplied arms, including TOW missiles. What do you say to the American people when even more quantities of our equipment ends up with an al-Qaeda subsidiary? Will your explanation be, “well it was the right thing to do.” ?

          I’ve been arguing for more support for the Syrian opposition for years now, and that question makes me very uncomfortable. It should make anybody approaching this situation with a level head uncomfortable, and it informs very much about our approach during the course of the conflict. I do not and will not support any move that has the capability of strengthening people who are our self-stated enemies, and any American who does needs to really check themselves and think about what they’re saying.

          “Funny story Jon H my Greek friend once asked me why I hate Adolf Khamenei and I listed about 10 reasons but managed to stop my from going on a 20 minute long rant about how I despise that sack o’ crap.”

          As interesting as that is, being that hateful is not going to help you keep a clear head when dealing with the Iranians. As despicable as elements of the regime are, you have to approach the situation dispassionately if you want any kind of positive outcome. Our negotiation team understands that, our allies understand that, but the critics in Congress and on the journalism circuit don’t, which is why all they have in response is irrational fearmongering and calls for more war.

          • “you have to approach the situation dispassionately if you want any kind of positive outcome”

            Critics in Congress and on the journalism circuit should learn the first rule of a RISK board game player.

          • “As interesting as that is, being that hateful is not going to help you keep a clear head when dealing with the Iranians. As despicable as elements of the regime are, you have to approach the situation dispassionately if you want any kind of positive outcome.”

            Need I remind you that Adolf Khamenei killed 30,000 political prisoners in 1988? That is over ten times the number of people killed in 9/11, if my entire home town outside of Glasgow was wiped of the face of the earth that less death than all innocent people he slaughtered. I do not lie when I say some Nazi Concentration Camps had a lower death count! How can you reason with this man? He openly denies the Holocaust, he blames the Jews for everything anything he doesn’t like is labelled a “Zionist Plot” like he is quoting Mein Kampf, don’t get me started on Hezballs or when his agents massacred all those Jews in Argentina. The only formal negations he should be under taking is when an ICC judge asks him آیا شما اعتراف به گناه و یا بی گناه (“Do you plead Guilty or innocent?)”. What happened to “we don’t talk with terrorists?” if we are going to talk to him should do the same with Daesh or al-Qaeda? All three have killed innocent Westerns.

            Don’t get me wrong there are some anti-west dictators who can be reasoned with e.g. Cuba Zimbabwe (the dictator agreed to enter a power sharing agreement-proof you reason with Bobby). There is no reason now why Cuba should be treated the way it is now.

            Jon H I not opposed to reasoning with Iran, if there was any hope they would change, their isn’t. We tried reasoning with North Korea and they built Nukes anyway, so we stopped bothering to engage with them anymore. Now if say instead of being fed to hungry dogs the Dear Leader’s uncle Jang took over and introduced Chinese style economic reforms and opened up the country then yes we could of tried to reason with them, since like China they’d have changed for the better. Since that didn’t happen we gave up with reasoning with them as we all know the current leadership will not evolve in the North. The only way Iran will change is if Khamenei and his gang are removed from office. We all know Rouhani has no power to change, he is just pretty face with no power to anything other than the most superficial changes or reduce sentences of death to life imprisonment for political prisoners.

            What should do is up sanctions and shun them, like North Korea. We should not go to war with them, ever unless they attack us or an ally of hours or they plan to commit genocide, those are the only justifications for war with them. If their an uprising in Iran we should support it. If there is a new Supreme leader who actually dose want to change and introduce some economic and political reforms then yes talk with them. Till that happens they should be taught if they want to act like North Korea they shall be treated as such, when they stop acting like North Korea they stop treated as such. So let them chose when they want to leave the shadows.

            Also every time he comes out with some anti-Semitic bile I would erect a statue of Alexander the Great, or put up a large poster or name a steet after him or anything at all that honours the Macedonian just to rub it in his face. Now that I think of it that’s ironic that Khameie wants to rebuild the Persian empire when his name is Ali which comes from…Alexander the man who destroyed it.

            • @ Niall Fraser Love

              Now you are ranting à la RT.

              “Need I remind you that Adolf Khamenei killed 30,000 political prisoners in 1988? That is over ten times the number of people killed in 9/11, if my entire home town outside of Glasgow was wiped of the face of the earth that less death than all innocent people he slaughtered.”

              So?, communist ideas and ideologues had wiped out more people than the bubonic plague and western powers not only negotiate with them but also tolerate and even economically support them, better not to introduce the moral viewpoint because we will surely find several “blood telegrams” hidden under our own rug.

              “his agents massacred all those Jews in Argentina.”

              What are you talking about?, this reminds me of your comments about the Paraguayan War, can you read spanish?. If not I assure u you can´t possibly know what AMIA bombing is about.

              Oh, and North Corea has nothing in common with Iran, there´s no possible analogy between the two cases -outside the sphere of ridiculous mass media-. Stop spreading panic and remember that Adolf Khamenei´s remarks are exactly designed to induce in you this same state of hostility in wich you abide now.

              • Yep North Korea has nothing in common with Iran except they are anti-western totalitarian states, with nuclear ambitions who subjugate their populations and conducted/sponsored terrorist acts abroad see the links below. Sorry but what they actually do trumps what they believe. Also Iran sends nuclear scientists there to lean about atom bombs. Funny how no other nuclear power, China, Russia, India, Pakistan would ever do that.
                At what point did we ever sponsor communist regimes? I know we sponsored lots of anti-Communist regimes, we definitely should not off, but when did ever sponsor a communist one? Also Iran is not the USSR, that we had to reason with because of its strength. Iran is not 1/10 as strong, we don’t show them any respect till they earn it, till they do like North Korea they shunned and sanctioned till they feel like changing themselves. Yes we are better morally than them, when as a Western Democracy even conducted large scale killings of their own citizens for political crimes? The last time the UK government killed its own islanders for political reasons was the Peterloo massacre in 1815 and that was about 15 people dead, so even if we a just for time, population growth and weapons technology they are still many times worse to own people than my government has been to mine. Would you rather life in a country whose government last intentionally killed protestors in 1815 or 2009?
                I hate Adolf Khamenei for his crimes not what he says, thought his arrogance dose make me hate him more than say Mengistu Haile Mariam who has killed more people. So I will be enjoying his funeral more, but then again I don’t know any Ethiopians or Eritreans but I do know some Iranians and Syrians so that might tip scales too.
                Also why do think because I can’t read Spanish I can’t know of the Paraguay war? By that logic only someone who can read Spanish, Portuguese and Guarani would be able to understand it. How much Guarani do you speak? After all more Paraguayans speak that than Spanish and they would communicate in that so the Uruguayans, Argentines and Brazilians could not understand them.
                P.S. I love how you taken up my nick name for him, since both Adolfs became leaders of Aryan countries that were once strong but now are weak and seek rebuild them to former glory and blame the Jews for the fall of said glory. Both also have an ideologically controlled secret police and paramilitary that operates as a state within a state. Not to mention the non-existent human rights.

                On (that was when he killed Jews in Argentina for being Jews, with all the hiding Nazis there who would of wanted to do this its Khamenei who actually did it)

              • Iran anti-western???, my god…, iran is almost completely westernized and is not a totalitarian state. I can even go on vacations to Iran if I want to. Stop focusing on the superficial aspects of reality and the paranoid media.

                In reference to the Israeli embassy bombing, you are using wikipedia sources?. The Supreme Court of Argentina after an expert commission of the national academy of engineering resolved that the bombing was inside the basement of the embassy and not because of a car bomb as claimed by israeli specialist. Independent investigations carried by argentine journalists claims that the basement of the embassy was used to store explosives.

                Of course you know that Alberto Nisman, former AMIA case district attorney -now dead- was a confesed zionist who worked hand in hand coordinating the legal case with the U.S embassy and other dubious elements, they where desperate to present iran as a terrorist sponsoring state in the international forums, consequently the U.S embassy “recommend” Nisman only to focus on the “iranian trail” but this trail was so weak that after more than 10 years of investigations an millons of dollars spent they got nothing. Did Iran committed the attack?, probably not.


                AMIA Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman called the Ambassador May 23 to apologize for not giving the Embassy advance notice that he would be requesting the arrest of former President Carlos Menem and other former government and judicial officials for their alleged cover-up/hindrance of the investigation into the local connections with the 1994 Hizballah-executed terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center. He was especially apologetic that his announcement coincided with the visit of FBI Deputy Director Pistole. Nisman several times said that he just did not think of Mr. Pistole’s visit connecting to his announcement.

                An U.S and Israeli puppet:

                “(Comment: As noted in para 9 of ref A, Legatt officers have for the past two years recommended to Nisman that he focus on the perpetrators of the terrorist attack and not on the possible mishandling of the first investigation. Such action would only confuse the victims’ families and distract from the hunt for the real culprits, they argued.) ”

                Stop talking about hidden nazis in South America -a topic about which I´m sure you know nothing about-.

                The west doesn´t support communism, is not arming the communist kurds?, there´s no western state money going to theses?:





                “Also why do think because I can’t read Spanish I can’t know of the Paraguay war? By that logic only someone who can read Spanish, Portuguese and Guarani would be able to understand it.

                There´s not enough specialised bibliography online about the Paraguayan war in your language -also alot of what exist is absolutly biased-. England was very interested in the destruction of Paraguay in those years and therefore was aligned behind Brasil.

                “How much Guarani do you speak? After all more Paraguayans speak that than Spanish and they would communicate in that so the Uruguayans, Argentines and Brazilians could not understand them.”

                That´s not true, guaraní is spoken also in the north-east of Argentina and south-west of Brasil by alot of people. Plus, it´s not a language used in the field of historical studies. Spanish and portugues -both of wich I can read- are the language in wich 99% of the historiography has been done.

                Can I really learn U.S history without knowing the english language?. No, I only can have some superficial knowledge of U.S history.

                I don´t like Adolf Khamenei but I like Iran, its people and its history, etc., I don´t want that to dissapear. I´m also preventing you in the future from being punched in the face by some angry paraguayan dude -people wich are extremly nationalist-.

  2. After years of refusing to help the opposition because it seemed like a lost cause, the US and Europe are seeming awfully eager to involve themselves now that a rebel victory is within sight. Just as everyone knew in 2014 that “political settlement” and “ceasefire” were euphemisms for surrender to the Iran/Assad regime in some continued form, it’s plain that the West is not now interested in helping the syrian people achieve real freedom and self governance, but rather in directing the political outcome at the final stages into something conforming to Western tastes. The UN would probably like to see Syria divided up or else turned into some kind of non state protectorate. A unified syria with representative ie Sunni government would not please the West, nor Egypt (Sisi) or Saudi. Formerly I would have said israel as well but if they continue to support the opposition who knows, it could spell a people to people relationship totally different from the state to state relationships which is the only kind of peace Israel has known with its arab neighboors thus far. We know where Turkey stands and this is obviously the biggest obstacle for Western schemers. Another wildcard is the Kurds and whether they will throw their weight behind a unified syria or (as usual per history) be dupes for some outside power. Of course there’s also the possibility of the Islamist led rebellion turning truly vicious in victory but frankly I don’t see it. Isis has demonstrated to all the jihadists what a depraved and futile path slaughter and butchery is. Besides, syria was never divided along sectarian lines until Assad’s atheist regime needed to manufacture social tension. Unfortunately the sacrifice of the syrian people continues but we can hope 1) that the end of the killing is coming soon, 2) that syrians achieve true political self governance and 3) that the Arab spring is not dead as proclaimed, that pressure can be brought on the illegitimate military government in Egypt before it becomes the next syria

    • Hate to be anal but the Baathist regime is not atheist. It pretends to secular and not care for religion when the different religions for a divide and rule strategy. It also can’t really be secular because the ideology has pseudo-religious beliefs the Party’s “eternal mission” for “the Battle for One Destiny”.

    • Well put,, X, The best solution for Syriians, now and in 2011, would have been a democracy with a strong bill of rights and a plurality electoral system ASSUMING the prime goals were to maximize personal freedoms, assure stability and economic prosperity and discourage sectarianism and extremism. That woujd still be the case but is no longer possible.

      So who blew it.? Assad, who may have considered giving into demands for democracy and could have been the hero rather than the villain had he done so and easily have won election. Khamenei and Putin who feared successful democracy in Syria would de-stabilize their own tyrannical regimes as their people insisted on having what Syrians had. Finaly, there is the Great Enabler, the super-incompetent Barak Obama, inspired by rigid and fixed ideas–like avoiding another Iraq or making the IRI of all places the lynchpin of “stability in the MIddle East.

      Obama refused to support democracy despite the advice of hjs best advisors but instead dumped them and kept the worse of the worst–none of whom will ever be rehired by any future president–and by fixed shallow and way off judgements (the rebels couldn’t fight but Assad could, ISIS was no more threat than a high school JV team..

      Obama and his crew assured us that by staying out of things and not helping the rebels we would prevent radicalization, sectarianism and its spread across national borders. Worst yet, his behavior was very unneutral because of his fixation with a Grand Bargain with Khamenei (equivalent to a grand bargain with Hitler or Putin or Assad. We’ve seen how those worked. Is it not a fract that virtually every move made created the exact opposite, the worst of the worst. Thie antithesis of Truman couldn’t have failed more if he set out to do so.

      • “Thie antithesis of Truman couldn’t have failed more if he set out to do so.”

        Is this the same Truman who did nothing meaningful to oppose the establishment of the Eastern Boc, who essentially traded away Poland to Stalin? Ask the Poles about him. Meanwhile, the current Polish government has a close working relationship with the US and America is one of the few states receptive to current Polish concerns regarding the situation in Ukraine and NATO effectiveness.

        Is this also the same Truman who was caught entirely by surprise when the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel in June of 1950? No, let’s go back before that. Is this the same Truman who signed the deeply unpopular Moscow Agreement in December 1949, which the US Military Government in Korea had to use martial law to enforce against mass protest and riots by the Koreans?

        The Truman Doctrine was not particularly effective at its stated aims, IE supporting democracy. Its three major tests, in Greece, Turkey, and Korea, all supported rather non-democratic groups, people, and regimes, hand-waved away with the illusory notion that communists are worse simply by virtue of being communist. We could call Poland the fourth failed test, as any possibility of a democratic Poland was sold down the river.

        I’m curious, who has been giving you history lessons? You say the most bizarre things.

        • From World War Two on words Greece was a democracy till the regime of the colonels took over in 1967 but that only lasted 7 years before they locked up for ever, I know one hanged himself and I think last one died of old age a few years ago. My Greek pal was telling me about it. They been a democracy ever since 1974. I think East Germany was the only other eastern European country that leaglly tried its dictators and jailed them, I don’t think any other leaders in Eastern Europe where punished. Except in Romania where they did some tyrannacide, thought if any of the then living eastern bloc leaders dissevered it was him.

          As for South Korea did you know they taking land of Japanese collaborators and their dependents as punishment for their and their (grand)dads’ crimes. I was reading it yesterday.

          Also Jon H every country teaches its history in the positive way from them (save Germany and Austria for obvious reasons). I had an Indian Maths tutor and asked me “So Niall in history class do they tell you about the terrible things you British people did to us Indians” to which I said “Oh no Prashant, they’re too busy teaching US how WE saved the world from Germany”.

          • Well you know the most interesting thing about Truman is that the decision which usually takes the most heat, the atomic bombing of Japan, is one of the events I have the least quibbles with. I mean the Korean War was definitely a big blunder, and a textbook case of intelligence and policy failure, not to mention a really high profile example of the top military leader and top civilian leader clashing over prosecution of the war. But nobody in America remembers Korea, so we talk about Hiroshima instead, and it’s become a huge punching back for the post-Vietnam academic left, with all these grandiose explanations in a Cold War context. Yet none of them really offer historically sound and contextual explanations. It’s vexing. Then again I did my undergrad thesis on the atomic bombings so I was exposed to a lot more research on it than most people, who read a couple lines in a magazine about it or a sound-bite and think “oh how awful.”

            • The atomic bombing was both unnecessary and ultimately unsuccessful, so I don’t see how it’s the least contentious of Truman’s moves.

  3. Hey Niall (and others who are interested),

    On my way home this morning I tuned into BBC Radio and there was a World Service discussion going on with Richard Haass, State Department foreign policy adviser to both Bush presidents, talking about the state of the world and the role of the United States today. I think you would have found it very interesting. Essentially he said the same thing that you have been saying, that the United States cannot afford to guide its foreign policy strictly by “the lessons of Iraq,” that it’s just as much a mistake to focus on non-intervention as it is to heavily invest in intervention. Ultimately he said what an intelligent foreign policy needs to do is worry less about an imaginary form of “consistency”, which is impossible, and instead look at each case separately, really pay attention to conditions on the ground, and make the call for that particular situation.

    There’s a lot of other stuff in the interview, it’s about 30 minutes long, and you can listen to it here:

  4. We would not have this problem and the USA woud have great say if not for Obama’s radicalization of the rebels via repeated double-crosses, broken promises, sneering remarks, his love affair with Khamenei and above all the Great Chemical Weapons Red Line back down.

    Obama is an utter fool on foreign policy, controlled by Chomsky like ideas he encountered as a college soph and a radical Chicago preacher. He is incredibly rigid and dogmatic–a man incapable of foreseeing disaster or changing policy to the last minute and often not even then.

    Neither tactically or strategically has the man ever shown a clue. In foreign policy he appears brain dead and is addicted to long held dreams of revolutionary changes in foreign policy that he refuses to see are not working.

    I am confident that this is how Obama will go down in American History–the opposite of what he intended. The shame is he had a place won and blew it. He may have blown something else via a performance so tainted future black candidates may not have a chance. The fear will be that they have, like Obama, they have secret and disastrous agendas, never disclosed to those who voted for them. It may not be fair and isn’t fair to black folks but I’m afraid what Obama did in the end was to close the very door he opened. For decades to come, racists will say, “See what happened,” and “Told you so.” What a tragedy–the hubris of a Greek drama!.

    Obama not only screwed the Syrian people and our allies but screwed black Americans as well.

    • Why do you keep referencing people who are not relevant? I mean, Noam Chomsky, really? The only place he has any influence here is in your imagination. This is literally the definition of a straw man. Doesn’t it get exhausting being this irrational all the time?

      Oh and by the way, if you think that Obama will be judged in history based on foreign policy, you really really don’t have a clue about America or what Americans are focused on today. Nobody outside of your little ideological circle really cares about this whole thing, and it’s about time you realized it and measured your invective accordingly.

      • Historians judge presidents. If you think foreign policy doesn’t count, see Truman in top five. If you think war policy doesn’t count, see Abe Lincoln at #1. Unlike the closed-minded and dogmatic Obama, Lincoln included a variety of advisers in his cabinet, not a bunch of yes men like Obama’s Wilhelm Keitel advisory council.

        • Do you even know who is in Obama’s cabinet? You keep referencing a bunch of people who are not there, but I’m willing to bet you don’t even know who Ernest Moniz is without looking it up.

          And again you can’t even engage in conversation without dragging more irrelevant figures in as red herrings. Keitel? Get ahold of yourself, your derangement is showing again. At least try to speak without violating Godwin’s Law for the umpteenth time.

          By the way, using aggregated average of assessments, Truman is not a Top-5 President, and it doesn’t necessarily follow that this is because of foreign policy. Oh, and Obama is currently 14th, while his predecessor (whose first cabinet was indeed filled with an echo chamber of ineptitude) is 34th. But judging by the fact that Andrew Jackson, by far one of the worst Presidents in American history when it comes to responsibly managing the legal duties of his office, is a Top-10er by aggregate, we can speculate rather easily on how useful such assessments are to begin with.

          • Keitel was HItler’s ultimate yes man. The reference is to leaders who surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to here, as Obama does–dumping those who disagree with his theories. The poisonous top advisers Obama included Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice, Tony Blinken (recently transferred, Val, Dennis, D. who colluded in the great 15 minute Red Line Background during a walk in the Rose Garden. . The one thing is clear is they are all turkeys who have consistently given bad advice. Toss in Bend Over Kerry as well.

            Rhodes, a Khamenei superfan, is top national security advisor. Obama has stuffed the White House will the largest group of (worthless) NSC types ever. Am I supposed to name all 300 or so of them? Who can?:

            • Don’t be a twit. Ben Rhodes writes speeches. Now we can all see that you truly don’t even know what an executive cabinet is to begin with.

              But bravo for comparing Tony Blinken, a Jew and the son of a survivor of Auschwitz, with Keitel. You just can’t help yourself, can you?


    As in everything else Obama has done, he relies on extremely questionable assumptions as if they were hard fact. Where is the supporting evidence? Obama’s ideas rely on fantasy.

    Questionable Assumption #1:

    Iran will spend the new cash investing in the economy rather than terrorism, anti-democracy campaigns and empire seeking.

    Questionable Assumption #2:

    Sanctions could be snapped back in place if Iran cheated or did any of the above.

    A third questionable assumption is one Americans and our allies would have to make: that even if #2 above were possible, this president–so addicted to pleasing Iran and infamous for appeasement–could be trusted to do so.

    No one trusts Obama to make an intelligent, wise or foresighted decision these days, except diehards.

  6. suicide bombing assasination by the MODERATES in the center of Damascus failed today.

    P.S: will Alloush return to Ghouta, now that its supposedly cordoned off with Mayada (or whats the village) under government control

    • Yes, but the bombing of the Aleppo hospItal by the MODERATES on your side seems to have been a success.

  7. DAMASCUS: Reports say Two More Regime Insiders May Have Been Knocked Off today.

    Some die at Assad’s hands and many seem to be getting knocked off by rebels, copying a tactic used by the regime itself for so long. Others have been committing suicide.

    –Colonel Ameer Al Qasem who is director of immigration was found dead in his house in Damascus suburbs. Suicide by several bullets. Source: Aura Salix.

    –Sami reports: “2 bombs went off in Rukn al-Din in #Damascus earlier today targeting the head of Assad’s army logistics dept. Maj Gen Mohammed Eid. Unconfirmed reports say Eid was killed. Nusra officially claims responsibility for attack by 3 inghimasi fighters on regime’s army logistics building in Rukn al-Din, Damascus today.”
    –Jaish al-Islam has reportedly captured 6 Shia militia fighters in #Zibdin & seized a mine clearing vehicle. Source: Sami.


    Military Security arrested today Governor of #Hama “Ghassan Khalaf” –Markito0171. Things seem to be falling apart fast.


    New Imagery for Qalamoun mountains (Recent offensive by Nusra on regime-controlled Falita)

    Both ISIS and JAN have been making gains in the Qalamoun area recently. On the other hand Hezbollah has been promising a new offensive once the snow melts. But will we see one and can it succeed? I’m starting to wonder. The following details are from a report entitled, “Assad: down but not out.”

    Al Arabiya reports that Hezbollah, which has played a central role in propping up Assad’s regime, is suffering from a drop in the number of people joining its ranks to fight in Syria.

    Website ‘The New Lebanon’ mentions that Hezbollah had resorted to opening the door of recruitment to 600 new members under the heading ‘The Contract’ in the Bekka region alone. However it was in for a surprise as no more than 150 people signed up. And this despite the fact that the Bekka forms a reservoir of human support for the Party.

    “Observers link the Party’s crisis in recruiting people with its attempts to replace its fighters with underage fighters in order to fill the deficiency in its numbers, and this was mentioned by the website Al Janoubia.

    “The behaviour of the leaders in the Bekka and the lavish lifestyles which they lead at a time when members of the Party are getting killed and injured in its battles outside Lebanon’s borders is causing a state of unease in the Party.


    1. IDLIB: A sign that rebels intend to finish up north of Aleppo? “Rebels (mainly #FSA) now storming Hamamiyat village near Kafrzita”.–Bonsi Sinj.. It will be interesting to see also if the fact the attackers are FSA encourages surrenders in these towns.

    2, IDLIB: Media activist Omran Abu Salloum from Maida’a yesterday refuting regime claims it has captured the village #Syria

    3. ALEPPO: Reports oppo were able to take several position in the Ameriyia district in #Aleppo this morning

  8. Warning Intelligence Update: Possible Upheaval in the Syrian Capital

    From the Institute for the Study or War:

    Major operations targeting entrenched anti-Assad forces in the outskirts of Damascus appear to be upcoming as Hezbollah and the Syrian regime prepare to target anti-Assad hold out positions in the capital and its countryside. In addition, indicators have emerged of a possible intervention by regional actors to assist in defeating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This includes ongoing negotiations to deepen the cooperation between prominent hardline Islamist groups Jaysh al-Islam and Harakat Ahrar al-Sham, which would increase the effectiveness of anti-Assad forces regardless of direct regional intervention. Together these trends indicate that a major shakeup of the military situation in Damascus Province is likely in coming weeks.

  9. DAMASCUS: Latest on suicide attacks

    A monitoring group said a senior Syrian army officer was wounded in a bombing attack in a central Damascus district on Wednesday, though the military denied the report. Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, “A major general who heads the munitions and supply division of the Syrian army was injured and one of his companions killed and two hurt in the rebel attack.” A Syrian army source denied the report that a senior figure had been wounded and said five people involved in a suicide attack in the bustling central district of Rukn al Din had been killed or arrested.


    What happened in Idlib is indicative of what is up in the anti-Assad camp. Stay tuned for more once Turkey polls over in June–Humeyra Pamuk

    From McClatchy


    Rebels shouldn’t have this problem and wouildn’t have this problem if not for Obama the Enabler, always the last to figure anything out and occasionally acting at the last minute, if then. In this case, he the a$$hole in the White House doesn’t get off his butt and provide MAJOR help to the rebels (not 3,000 men fifty years from now), hard line Islamists will benefit and Syria will face another post-Assad civil war that could have been avoided had Obama showed the slightest capacity for strategic foresight.

    The good news is that, as In Kobane, Obama might, just might, be waking up at the last minute though everyone is familiar with his tendency to back down after promising good moves.

    From the above article:

    “The Americans didn’t support the battle of Idlib,” said Mohamad al Ghabi, who claims to command a moderate force of 3,600 that includes 100 officers and 2,000 military defectors. “But they supported the battle of Jisr al Shughour and the Ghab valley…”

    …the Islamists and Nusra have far more weaponry, and the booty from Ariha will strengthen them further.
    “We cannot speculate on what they will do,” said Ghabi, a rebel commander..

    One hope, Ghabi said, is more help from the United States. “If you give me support for 10,000 fighters, I will change the dialectic of the whole area,” he said. “We have professional officers. If we have support, we can rebuild the Free Syrian Army. In this case, people will come to the conclusion that there is an alternative to the regime of Bashar al Assad.”

    The problem is Obama has never demonstrated any capacity to see that far and has become infamous for promising the moderates help, offering a few items and then turning off the spigot immediate if they show the slightest success. What his slow-witted mind can’t grasp if that to the degree he pulls this repeated stunt, all he does is assure that the guys he’d least want to see win are guaranteed the victory.

    There’s no talking common sense to the guy on this. People have tried repeatedly.

    • I heard that 3000 or FSA men trained by the US won’t start till 2016 so other than the 100 anniversary of the battle of the Somme what else happens in 2016 that will enable them to train?

      • “I heard that 3000 or FSA men trained by the US won’t start till 2016 so other than the 100 anniversary of the battle of the Somme what else happens in 2016 that will enable them to train?”

        …Could you rephrase the question, it doesn’t make any sense.

        FSA fighters have been training in large numbers for quite some time already, this program isn’t particularly new. Or where do you think the relative organization and robustness of the Southern Front and the FSA-aligned groups in Jaysh al-Fateh comes from?

        • I meant the 3000 the US is supposed to be training to fight Daesh, the joke was it is not believed they will be able to start till 2016 be happenstance that a certain someone will have a new job by that time.

          • The initial round of training will be completed in December of this year according to the timetable. But that’s not really relevant, most of these guys will have already been involved in the conflict at some point. That’s what gets ignored. We’re not building a force from scratch, we’re improving the capability of people who are already fighting. That’s not new.

            • Who trusts Obama when he promises something anymore OR when he draws red lines OR when threatens anyone or when he makes treaties (see how Assad mocks the chemical weapons treaty). He will train a dozen men by 2025 or so.

              See the five Taliban commanders for one traitor who got six of his fellow troops killed searching for him.

              Trust lost isn’t easy to regain.

              • As Jon points out there are already US-trained fighters in the field in the south.

                The expanded programs in Turkey and in Jordan will each be producing thousands more. That 3,000 figure for the Jordanian-based program is just the first batch.

              • Oh, come on! The White House says so therefore it MUST be true–four year too late, coming in drips and drabs and in the tiniest amount of men possible. “Big Whoopie!,” says everyone–our allies, the rebels, the Syrian people, our own military and security analysts and Assad. Nobody except Obama’s Yes Men in the White House or die-hard Obama supporters has anything but scorn for the ultra-ultra-ultra cautious approach. It is so “Obama!” The truth, as many have said, is the guy hasn’t a clue and has no strategy, unlike a Truman.

                The laughable thing is that these “trainees” wouldn’t even be allowed to target the prime source and origin of everything, the Assad regime but the regime’s aircraft would be free to target them without interference. Could Obama have come up with a more stupid, self-crimping plan–one that would discredit the trainees at the same time by not allowing them to protect Sunnis from the greatest threat. And why such a restriction? Because Obama the Great personally promised Khamenei he’d protect. as part of his futile courtship of Khamenei.

                Obama’s extreme failure to act and never-ending appeasement of Assad and Iran’s Supreme Leader is incredible. And how does Khamenei respond to all Give Aways by mocking the president and carrying on as usual. Obama doesn’t even notice. He dismisses everything Khamenei does by simply arguing “He doesn’t mean it. In Iran’s case, Khamenei is getting something for nothing and it all comes from Obama. Everybody knows Obama’s been taken and continues to be taken In blind pursuit of a fantasy.

              • Good god that was a long-winded way to say “I hate Obama.” At least the people on Fox News are succinct.

            • After the completion of training in 12/2015, how long would it take form the to receive real weapons, and be permitted to deploy them? Don’t hold your breath. All Assad has to do is to deliver more Sarin, and Obama will apologize for offending Assad by training the FSA.

      • I think 2016 is a special anniversary year for Obama, where a minor Hijrat took place by some of Mohammad’s companions, including the future 3rd Caliph, from Mecca to Abyssinia in 616 AD. What better event to celebrate this hijra (emigration)?


    Reports regime jets dropped a barrel bomb, again, on own troops in Bashkoi, #Aleppo, casualties reported.


    So true. And Sunni women and children remain the regime’s preferred target. “Assad would never do that,” says Obama the Enabler. “Assad is falsely accused.



    Most are Alawites from Tartous or west of Hama. According to regime sources they lost hundreds in all. These guys are a drop in the bucket.


    As Assad’s air force struck the main hospital in Aleppo, Obama chuckled in the White House.


      “As Assad’s air force struck the main hospital in Aleppo, Obama chuckled in the White House”

      Yeah dude you are really funny but don’t you think it’s time to get some new material…….(WH staffer).

        • I thought it was already confirmed that both Jon H and Bill Anderson are regime trolls, deployed from the the A squad due to the well-known sophistication of EA readers. On the other hand, I suppose its a fine line indeed between a regime troll and a White House staffer.

    • btw – Saying that I do not intend to applaud the death of anyone. My sincere hope is that the regime soldiers give up in Idlib province. There is absolutely no reason for the regime soldiers to die there and only the few responsible for war crimes should face punishment. It’s a hopeless case for these regime soldiers in Idlib especially now the rebels hold almost all the higher ground around Idlib. And the rebels should be able to get this war to end quicker if the regime soldiers see a way out without them getting shot. Ideal thinking on my part perhaps though.

      • The tanks were probably shelling a civilian neighborhood, so no reason not to be happy about their deaths. Have to agree with you that the war will end quicker if the rebels let the Alawis escape to the coast, and do not take their fight there, unless they wish to negotiate territory, or to protect Sunnis in the coast. Assad should become more willing to come to the table by the day, as his tanks helicopters and jets are picked off. It should also be able to use bunker buster TOWS to get at Assad’s fortifications — of course only if Obama (“Islam has nothing to do with terrorism”) wants to give them such weapons.

    • Wow – incredible – thanks for posting this. The irony is that these fascists were blown up while bombarding and shelling probably some residential neighborhoods. The first TOW hits the bull’s eye. The tanks were about 3 km away. They learnt a lesson the hard way – that there is no where they can hide from the TOW. That the old-school Soviet style tank warfare is just obsolete and a joke today. This given the fact that the TOW used was invented in the 1950s and probably is a good 30 years old. The market price is probably $5,000 a missile given its obsolescence, while a modern day tank starts at $5M. The 2nd tank doesnt realize that their buddies were blown up until after it fires its own shell. Then it tries to escape, using the trees as cover, but to no avail.

      If this is not a game changer, then I am not sure what is. I don’t believe TOWs were used in any meaningful manner in the Libyan war. Partially because it was not needed due to the air cover.

      Everytime one of these tanks are blown up, you will have a whole group of soldiers refusing to get into one and go to war.

      Time for Assad to pull back to the coast and get assassinated by his own people hopefully before he flees to Moscow.

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