Syria Audio Analysis: Why Palmyra is Not Quite “Assad’s Victory”


PHOTO: Damage in the Palmyra Museum

I spoke with Monocle 24’s The Globalist on Tuesday morning about the recapture of Palmyra in central Syria by pro-Assad forces.

The discussion was an opportunity for a reality check about the developments:

1. The defeat is not a “mortal blow” to the Islamic State, as claimed by the Syrian military. ISIS continues to hold the cities of Raqqa and Mosul and territory, including oil and gas fields, across Iraq and Syria.

However, this is a “steady erosion” for th Islamic State, beset on all sides. For months, it has been pushed back by a US-supported Kurdish-led force, and it is fighting rebels in northern Aleppo Province. Now — after a de facto non-aggression arrangement with the Syrian regime dating back to early 2014 — it is facing Russian airstrikes and a ground offensive by Hezbollah, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and Iraqi and Afghan militias as well as the Syrian Arab Army.

2. This is not quite “Assad’s victory”, as proclaimed not only by Damascus but also by some Western outlets. It was the regime and Syrian military that lost Palmyra in May 2015, as President Assad faced collapse amid rebel and ISIS advances.

On its own, the Assad regime could not have regained the city. Only the Russian intervention and significant foreign assistance on the ground opened up the possibility.

3. Commentary in much of Western media has abetted Assad with diversionary and ill-informed statements propping up his claim to legitimacy.

That diversion has included assertions of Assad “saving” Palmyra’s historic culture while ignoring the deaths and damage wrought by the regime for five years. A particularly nasty example is the “Bravo for Assad” shouted by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in an opinion piece on Sunday.

The “cultural meaning” is being used to say, “Isn’t it wonderful what Assad has done?”

Let’s be very clear here. It was the Assad regime that lost Palmyra to the Islamic State last year. It’s the Assad regime that detained hundreds, indeed thousands of people in Palmyra and killed many of them….

To simply celebrate the defeat of one evil…by backing another regime that has blood on its hands? The biggest casualty of this war has been the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who were killed.

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  1. “On its own, the Assad regime could not have regained the city. Only the Russian intervention and significant foreign assistance on the ground opened up the possibility.”
    True, but how is that US intervention in Iraq going?.

    • The point is that there is no US intervention at Anbar province and inside Iraq.
      Your peopaganda attempt to hide Putin`s neo – imperialism behind US assistence to fight Daesh with locals is not working.

        • US assistence to fight Daesh with locals: This locals are the Iraq Army – but no shia jihadi militants who make things worse.

          • Gains are being made with Shia PMUs working with Iraqi forces.
            The Shia PMUs aren’t working directly with the US military, but the Shias are the ones getting the job done, and the US knows it.
            Obviously, Shia are very well trained and not afraid to take the fight to ISIS.

            • Last month, Iraqi and coalition forces declared the western city of Ramadi fully-liberated. Afterward,
              Iraqi forces continued to clear villages in the area,
              most recently Zangura and Qariya Asriya northwest of the provincial capital. Iraqi forces this week evacuated more than a thousand people from the two villages being held as hostages by ISIS.

              Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi took office just over a year ago in the wake of Mosul’s fall. Since then, a U.S.-led coalition has spent some dollars on training and equipment for Iraq’s military. Yet, despite putting more than 18,500 troops through training, these troops are on the front lines. Previous victories have been led by Iraq’s elite counterterrorism forces.

              Anbar province is a sunni territory where sectarian jihadi Shia fighters have nothing to do.

            • “The Shia PMUs aren’t working directly with the US military, but the Shias are the ones getting the job done, and the US knows it.”

              False. They are being fully equiped with american arms and suported by the american air force.

            • “Sunni locals have proven they are not capable or willing to fight ISIS.”

              False. Sahawat had already proven that. They have beaten ISIS before. You need some knowledge of basic facts Mike.

  2. Take your pick………
    1. Putin knows how to defeat an enemy.
    2. US doesn’t want to defeat ISIS.
    What say ye?

    • Putin knows how he can make airraids to depopulate territorries with his the military means of WWII, destroying hospitals, killing civilians and surpporting massmurderes.
      Putins genocid military strategy and sectarian policy doesn`t solve any problem at syria.

      • gunny,
        wrong country. Saudi Arabia is massacring thousands of innocents in Yemen. Bombing schools, hospitals, factories, infrastructure, etc.
        All using weapons supplied by the West, and the West knows what the Saudis are doing!

        • Iranian jihadis like Hizbollah were the ones being behind of the Houthis at Yemen. But this evil game is over now. Hizbollah and Iran have failed to attack another sovereign country.
          Houthis are now engaged with peace talks with Saudi Arabia – but leaving Shia Jihadis of the Hizbollah terrorists you are surpporting in front of the door.
          Looks like that you are doing propaganda for shia terrorism right now.

          • Barefooted Houthis are on their own, AND, they’re holding up well even though they are being bombed every night. Nothing is holding them back, including starvation. Amazing people.

  3. interesting point made on Twitter………..
    “The real hole in western narrative re Palmyra is the total absence of mainstream rebels (or whatever their proxies name) vs ISIS there..”.

    • “western narrative re Palmyra”

      I see you also cultivate the soviet monolith mentality in regards the “west”. The “west” is not an unified entiity -a.k.a the “Empire”- like the garbage sources you feed on want to portrait it.

      • Mike, deangelies, Genome….instead of spending time here why don’t you open a circus? Ask Putin for some siberian tigers and you are half way there.

        • cali,
          As long as your here, the circus is in town.
          And don’t fall off your tightrope. The Syrian army is down there waiting for you and your other jihadi friends to fall off.

        • Sunni tribes are fighting against Daesh – with US assistence
          An Oct. 16 meeting between ISF and two Sunni tribes (the Jughayfi tribe in Haditha and the Ubaydi tribe in Baghdadi) provided a framework for the intended establishment of a 3,000-strong brigade of local tribesmen.
          This brigade would be trained by U.S. advisers and have a common mission to defend the remaining free or contested villages of Hit district. The same day, 100 U.S. military advisers arrived at the Al Asad airbase and Camp Habbaniyah to begin training local tribesmen. This alliance among the ISF, the Jughayfi and the Ubaydi was spurred at least as much by necessity as it was altruism: Baghdadi was the last line of defense before the Haditha Triad.
          Sectarian clashes like Shia Jihadi Terrorists like Hizbollah are committing is no solution in the Middle East.

        • “ISIS and the many other Sunni groups are, for the most part, allies.”

          More vague and incoherent statements Mike?. I prefere when you copy and paste garbage from wacko sites. By the way, is the dollar going to collapse in this year?.

  4. Assad is selling parts of Syria to Iranian
    Iran’s Plan to Seize Damascus Continues With Support From Assad Regime
    Research shows a wave of purchases by Iranian traders involving a large amount of Syrian real estate in a number of cities including Damascus and Homs
    Talk has resurfaced in recent days in conjunction with what many see as moves toward a political resolution in Syria as the US-Russian agreement raises questions about the price Tehran is paying to guarantee its stake in the war-torn country.

    For several months, media reports and statements by Syrian activists have shed light on a growing phenomenon in Syria – reports which can be summarized in one sentence: “Iran is buying Syria.”

    The headline refers to the broad and systematic wave of purchases during which Iranian traders have bought a large amount of Syrian real estate in a number of cities, primarily in the center of the capital Damascus and Homs, including property belonging to those who have fled Syria.

    Data obtained by the Syrian Media Organization, which has documented sales and long-term rentals to figures loyal to the regime, confirms that real estate purchases in Syria have expanded, especially since the start of June.

    The reports say that the activity of businessmen loyal to the regime purchasing real estate had in the past been limited to areas of eastern Damascus, particularly the Old City, but has expanded recently in the capital and its eastern outskirts, especially the Mleiha area, including large amounts of land owned by the state, later easing purchase by Iranians by circumventing the law.

    Some of the documents indicated that several hotels in the heart of Damascus – such as Al Iwan, Asia, Damascus International, Phoenicia and the Petra – have become property of the Iranian embassy, in addition to shares in the luxury Semiramis Hotel. …………………………………

    “The regime has nothing to offer but real estate
    to Iran as guarantees in exchange for the huge amounts of money
    it spent to support the Assad regime, and to carry out demographic change in Syria.”

    • Research shows a wave of purchases by Iranian traders involving a large amount of Syrian real estate in a number of cities including Damascus and Homs

      In that case CAMERON IS SELLING LONDON TO QATAR AND RUSSIA. Research shows a wave of purchases by Qataris and Russians involving a large amount of British real estate in a number of cities including London.

  5. Palmyra is a SAA victory. Last year’s western supplies of modern anti tank arms to its moderate mercenaries forced the regime to concentrate and to be passive to avoid the loss of skilled manpower and crucial territories. The advent of modern equipment, training and better supply of reconnaissance info donated by Russia turned the tide. The recruitment of new militia at home and from abroad freed skilled and motivated units from mere garrison jobs. Palmyra is the road junction that opened the desert areas and their oil supplies. The loyalist are both economically and strategically strengthened. This victory is another indicator that the tide has turned.

  6. This is somewhat of a pointless argument Scott. The so called rebels would be nowhere without foreign support. The US would be hamstrung without access to local airbases.

    In Yemen, the Saudis have all the help they could desire from the US and Britain, not only in terms of arms, but also in terms of foreign paid mercenaries and advisers.

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