Syria Daily: Kurdish Militia — Deal to Allow Russian Base in Northwest

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Russian troops and armor arrive in Afrin in northwest Syria


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  • Syria’s Rebels Renew Offensives in Damascus and Hama Province


    The Kurdish militia YPG says it has agreed to the establishment of a Russian military base in the Afrin canton in northwestern Syria.

    The YPG said Moscow will help train its fighters.

    The Russian Defense Ministry denied any plans for new military bases. Instead, it said a branch of its “reconciliation center”, pursuing capitulations of opposition territory, had been placed near the town of Afrin in Aleppo Province.

    But YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said Russian troops are already arriving with troop carriers and armored vehicles.

    Footage of the Russian deployment:

    Russia has stepped up its political and military support of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) and its YPG militia. Earlier this month Moscow and the US placed units and equipment near Manbij, northeast of Aleppo city, to protect the city — held by the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces — from an advance by a Turkish-rebel force.

    The Kurdish canton of Afrin is separated from the cantons of Cezire and Kobane in northeast Syria by opposition and Turkish-rebel territory.

    The YPG’s step — and any Russian acceptance — is likely to heighten tensions with Turkey. Ankara considers the PYD and YPG as part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has been fighting Turkish security forces for more than 30 years.

    Russia’s main base for its September 2015 air and ground intervention has been Hmeimim in Latakia Province in western Syria. However, Russian warplanes, special forces, and military advisors have been positioned throughout much of the country.


    US Airstrike Kills Another Commander of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham

    A US airstrike has killed another commander of the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham bloc.

    The latest attack killed Abu Islam al-Masri in Darkoush in Idlib Province.

    AL MASRI

    The US has stepped up manned and unmanned airstrikes on HTS, which includes the faction Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) since the start of the year. More than 100 fighters of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and the allied Nur ed-Din al-Zinki Brigade were killed in late January, and a series of commanders have been slain.

    US strikes last week killed about 56 civilians in a mosque in western Aleppo Province.

    See Syria Daily, March 18: US Tries to Deny Deadly Attack on Mosque


    2nd White Helmets Rescuer Killed This Week

    A 2nd White Helmets rescuer has been killed by regime attacks within days:

    Earlier this week the director of White Helmets operations in Daraa Province in southern Syria, Abdullah al-Sarhan, was killed by a regime missile.

    Related Posts

13 COMMENTS

  1. As I mentioned yesterday – keep an eye out on the military developments in eastern Qalamoun as that has the potential to become a strategic victory for rebels. Why? In the next mountain range to the one rebels captured today has the regime airbase of Al-Saykal/Al-Seen nearby (ie withing shelling distance) and that airbase is next to a tenuously/thin-held Daeesh-controlled gap which the FSA Tanaf group is trying to capture therefore potentially making the Dumayr area in the long term no longer an isolated pocket if rebels in eastern Qalamoun continue making their progress.
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    That said my main concern is the one raised by the below writers:
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    #Observation: “14) In the longer term, however, YPG could be used as a force to push into HTS held territory or act as a blocking force. 15) YPG, in turn, could then push for some sort of arrangement to transit regime held territory, connecting Efrin with Manbij. 16) As a quid pro-quo and with minimal leverage from increased and overt coop with Russia.. 20) But events in Syria — driven by the US and Russia, working by with and through locals — is completely at odds with Turkish interests. 21) For Turkey, this may be the biggest security threat since World War II. This exceeds Gulf War I. People should not downplay TR concerns. 22) But events are out of Turkey’s control at the moment. Its most important ally, the US, is at odds with Ankara. And Russia is not an ally” – @aaronstein1
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    To which I say not only does Turkey have to go after Tel Rifaat (and tell the Yanks to get lost by going after Tal Abyaad themselves – what the Yanks going to do after Incerlik is closed?) but that they either: A) Go into and occupy enough of Idlib-Afrin border area that they can have a permanent base there. Or B) Cut a deal with HTS and arm them enough so that HTS can not only launch a successful operation into Afrin but also re-activate the southern Aleppo front. Why? Turkey can’t use ES rebels as the US will then attack ALL rebel groups (including FSA) openly, HTS on the other hand is going to be attacked by US/Russia regardless, so why not Turkey covertly (like Pakistani ISI does with Taliban?) arm HTS to neuter YPG permanently? For Turkey HTS is a far smaller/more-manageable future problem then geostrategically catastrophic permanent presence of YPG-controlled Raqqa-to-Afrin link.
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    It’s doubles or quits time for Erdogan and what a better way to double the pressure on Russia-YPG then covertly providing the new medium-range anti-aircraft system that Turkish military has recently developed?

    • And before anyone throws the label at me: I have zero sympathies/support for HTS, my main sympathies in this rebellion has always been with FSA mostly (and Ahrar occasionally), however Turkey is in a extremly difficult position and it maybe forced to take a pragmatic, albeit controversial, decision to escalate against the YPG more covertly inside Afrin if Turkey can’t (because of Russians/US) overtly do so against YPG in Afrin. And I say all this because I’m coming around to the view that the YPG may end up becoming a bigger menace to the revolution then the IRGC.

  2. @K9
    Lot’s of scenarios now. Very complex situation. I believe the YPF/SDF are more focused on a quasi Kurdish state, emulating the Peshmerga. The odd’s of Syria staying together are very low. The defacto “balkanization” of Syria and Iraq may not be a bad thing in the long run. There is just too much hatred between the different ethnic/religious groups. A cautionary tale for those who support multiculturalism. It works fine until it doesn’t, then it goes very bad, quickly.

  3. #National: Hama front is active again which means there’s a rolling/continuous offensive in 3 different provinces simultaneously for the first time in the history of the revolution. Rebels finally got there! :) Let’s hope rebels in each province this time have enough sense no to accept a ‘cease fire’ in their province just so the regime can escalate offensives in other provinces.
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    #Hama: ” Rebels took the location named Maardis, North Hama.” – fuadhud
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    Bravo, lets hope that rebels capture Suqaylabiyah (so as to prevent from that area a future regime offensive onto rebel’s rear) as well as Morek and use the north Hama area as a base to launch deep mobile-guerrilla warfare operations across Hama and into the Homs pocket. Furthermore rebels should remember to combine their guerrilla warfare operations with economic warfare (I’ll explain how in later posts) by launching decoy/diversionary offensives to permanently destroy or capture important regime infrastructure (e.g. regime electric/thermal-stations, dams, gas/oil/water-pipelines, water-treatment facilities: all which can be used during the siege of Hama) as well as the military targets in the Hama area. Furthermore rebels should complement their main offensives (along with decoy offensives against economic targets) by using mobile (ie not tied to one area and also has it’s entire unit) groups (of 4 or 5?) company-size (ie 100+ men unit – that has not only motorbike assault teams as well as have transport for it’s mortar/ATGM/machine-gun/IED operators and snipers) to launch night-time deep-behind-the-lines raids/ambushes with the explicit aim of inflicting as much KIA/WIA through indirect fire (as well as blockade transport routes) and infiltrating regime positions (e.g. areas/blocks/neighbourhoods etc so buildings can be booby-trapped with IEDs as well as create mine-traps along with targeting Assadist officers for special-ops etc) to soften those areas up for a future rebel offensive. Those deep-behind-the-lines raids/ambushes should be done on multiple regime positions simultaneously. Such unexpected night-time raids/ambushes at unexpected locations (e.g. supply routes or isolated check-points) will cause regime troops at those areas to panic especially if rebels make their attacks on regime positions bigger then they are by storming it not only at night-time but from multiple directions with VBIEDs and motorbike units. Finally remember any company-sized rebel unit that doesn’t have ATGM operators should be given weaponised drones so they can surprise regime units from a distance just like a TOWie operator.
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    #Observation: I’ve mentioned this for the rebel offensive in Damascus but I’ll mention it here for the Hama offensive (so apologies if I’m repeating myself) also. As I’ve mentioned before (see below link) during this phase of the offensive it’s best to remember: “that the gaps of regime weaknesses rebels have noticed (through open-source, informants and google-earth) which rebels intend (say on day two) to exploit/make-use of during the first phase of their offensive may not be there (because regime has quickly dug a trench there or has moved a brigade of Republican Guards or artillery battery there during the night) in the second phase of rebel offensive. That is why during the second or third phase of the offensive rebels should create multiple diversionary/decoy offensives, just like Daeesh did in order to encircle Palmyra, at ALL vulnerable or prestigious (places regime has to defend because it has important regime infrastructure or has a large shiite population or has a shiite shrine) regime areas so rebels can CREATE (because regime MUST re-enforce that area by weakening/removing regime presence in one town or check-point by sending it’s troops to the point being attacked by rebels) such GAPS/WEAK-POINTS which their reserve troops can exploit (ie push through and over-run) through night-time mobile guerrilla warfare (using multiple battalion-sized?) operations.”
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    http://eaworldview.com/2017/02/syria-daily-turkeys-erdogan-looks-towards-capture-of-raqqa/

  4. #Damascus: “1) “Rebels opened another battlefront in Damascus – in Adawiyah district.” – @fuadhud
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    That’s big because if rebels can push out from their and fight towards then rebels will be able to get towards the Al-Mazraa quarter which btw is where the Russian embassy in Damascus is based. Shame rebels don’t have tanks to blitzkrieg across or we might have witnessed the Russian ambassador fleeing Damascus on the tv! :)
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    2) Rebels claim full control over Haresta district of Damascus City, 40 min ago.” – @fuadhud
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    #Hama: 1) “So far about 50 Assad fighters have been killed in today’s clashes in Soran, 4 tanks and a lot of weapons and ammunitions captured.” – fuadhud
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    Follow the instructions Rommel gave his (tank?) unit leaders: Drive, drive and keep driving you’ll find the petrol you need from your enemy.
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    2) “Salamiyah-Aleppo highway reportedly still closed amid fighting between regime and Islamic State” – JohnArterbury
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    Lets hope rebels make hay (ie capture more territory and launch more raids/ambushes) whilst the sun is still shining (ie conditions are favourable).
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    #Observation: 1) “now would be a good time to reactivate Manshiyah battle. Assad militias and airforce can’t handle Dar’a, Hama and Damascus fronts together.” – NorthernStork
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    Not only that but a fresh assault on Khirbet Al-Ghazalah (that way cut-off regime’s supply route north of Deraa) too as soon as Daeesh has been cleansed from Yamouk area. Here’s a prediction regime’s offensive in Palmyra will be halted soon the minute regime starts transporting troops from Palmyra front to stabilise the Damascus and Hama areas.
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    2) “An offensive has begun in north Hama, according to the teachings of XI.” – bdrhmnhrk
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    Rebels need to capture (and hold) Salaamiyah before he can be called Sun Tzu :)

  5. #National: “Three separate FSA sources tell me the MOM has resumed provision of “some” support to vetted factions in Idlib, W. #Aleppo & N. #Hama.” – Charles_Lister
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    Translation: The Turks and the Gulf Arab states have grudgingly scraped something together (e.g. small delivery of ATGMs) but won’t push the boat (ie MRLs) until Trump changes his mind.
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    #Hama: “RuAF dropping incendiary bomb over Al-Lataminah (~10 km from front) in reaction to Rebel offensive” – QalaatAlMudiq
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    I hope rebels re-use any duds the Russians dropped for their own weaponised drones so rebels can return that favour on a regime check-point.
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    #Observation: 1) “It is key that rebels overrun Assad positions and conquer ammo and especially ATGM.” – Interbrigades
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    As I recall isn’t there a few major arms/ammo depots in eastern Hama? There’s one east of Samra and another west of Salamiya near the outskirts of Hama city I recall. Best to send multiple (2 or 3) company-size (ie 100+ men) units for such types of (surprise?) operations.
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    2) If rebels in northern Aleppo had any sense they’d exploit the regime’s difficulties in Hama and Damascus by launching a quick surprise offensive to capture YPG/regime positions in eastern Aleppo. Arimha would be top of my list.

  6. #International: “Lawyer for Sergei Magnitsky’s family Nikolai Gorokhov has been “thrown from the 4th floor of his apartment building” in Moscow.” – BBCDanielS
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    No comment.
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    #Hama: 1) “reports #RuAF attack helicopters targeting Rebels on #Souran front. Several Regime tanks seized in current operations.” – QalaatAlMudiq
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    Demonstrating the importance again of not only being and remaining mobile as possible.
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    2) Hasn’t been confirmed yet but “Rebels took the village of Iskandariyah, North Hama, minutes ago.” – fuadhud
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    #Damascus: “16 Assadite tanks have been destroyed or captured by the rebels in the past three days of clashes in Damascus City.” – fuadhud
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    I wonder if that figure will hit the 100 before this Sunday ends?

  7. “The Kurdish militia YPG says it has agreed to the establishment of a Russian military base in the Afrin canton in northwestern Syria.”

    This pseudo-marxist are really quick to prostitue to imperialism.

  8. #Aleppo: Is this back on again? ” Rebels started heavy shelling of 3000 Apartment Project in South Aleppo, minutes ago.” – fuadhud
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    That said if rebels are going to re-activate the southern Aleppo they better make sure they capture and capture Jabal Arbaeen and Haider or it’d be a wasted effort.
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    Props to rebels for implementing for the first time a genuine ‘3 provinces-wide’ multiple fronts simultaneously.
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    #Observation: 1) Rebels should combine mobile guerrilla warfare operations with the permanent capture/destruction of important regime infrastructure (e.g. oil/gas fields, oil/gas/water pipelines, power plants etc) in Alawite areas of the country such as the area east of Suqaylabiyah and along the Orontes river in Hama province as well as the area around Salamiyah because by doing (during decoy/diversionary offensives) so rebels will not only earn extra income from pro-regime businessmen of that area (because they’re desperate to use that service) which rebels can use to buy equipment like jammers from the black-market but which rebels can also as an economic-warfare weapon against the regime whenever regime fighters besiege rebel areas. And because these areas are predominantly Alawite the regime will be forced to defend such areas because Assad neither want Alawite businessmen to lose money or want his Republican Guards to get angry by having the properties of their clan being controlled by rebels and in doing so FORCE regime to divert troops away from Aleppo and Damascus in order to help defend the economic interests of Assad’s Alawite backers.
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    After thinking about the number one economic target rebels should go after in Syria – more then arranging a special-ops hit on a senior Republican Guards officer – is the Baniyas refinery in Latakia province. Why? Most of not only Latakia’s but the regime-controlled parts of Syria have their oil refined (and turned into diesel) here. If the Russians were serious about doubling diesel/petrol supplies to ALL of Syria it would be at this refinery plant. If rebels can permanently destroy it then it becomes irrelevant how much oil the Iranians and the Russians send to Syria because the regime will then have no means to refine oil anymore. This would then mean that not only all pro-regime supporters in Hama/Homs/Damascus/Latakia not getting any oil but Assad’s military not getting any oil for their tanks and jets either. All it would take for such an operation is one large successful hit/operation then at a stroke zero oil for the regime’s army.
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    2) Have all rebel commanders at the battalion level (ie units of 300 troops) share and compare their battle plans with other battalion commanders of their group so they know whether each battalion commander has the necessary resources (e.g. tanks, artillery, shells/ammo etc) to complete their part of the plan. This should be done by brigade-level (ie unit size of 3000 men) commanders after these brigade-level commanders have identified which sector (that the battalion and regimental commanders will be operating in) needs the need the most resources (e.g. an area near the front-line with regime or area so strategically important to regime – such as a airbase or highway – that regime will send more men the usual to protect it) and which needs the least (e.g. an isolated regime check-point that can be captured by any time and only has 100 men defending it and is not important to regime) resources (e.g. in men, ATGM, artillery, tanks, machine-guns etc) as well as discussing how the methods to be used (ie capturing regime territory or defending rebel territory) need to be slightly changed (e.g. if VBIED didn’t work in one location because too many buildings close together and too many barriers to surprise regime fighters then use multiple tunnel-munitions remotely activated as well as booby-trapping buildings in the area might work). This kind of intelligent approach not only allows you to survive through adaptation/changing but it also encourages you to experiment enough till you find a weakness in regime’s method for you to exploit and win.
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    Finally
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    3) In case anyone says large units are needed to hold an area in Hama to ensure it remains in rebel control: Wrong, it entirely depends on terrain, in a flat featureless terrain like the deserts of eastern-Hama/western-Homs you don’t need a trench to hold a territory you just need meaningful presence (ie how quickly can you mobilised enough concealed troops/fire-power to launch a successful ambush) in the area. What the Russian jets going to do? Spends hours looking for units camouflaged next to a sand-dune?

  9. #Hama: “Assad regime #SyAAF airstrike hits gathering of regime forces mistakenly at Tel Sakhr checkpoint near Kafr Nabudah” – badly_xeroxed
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    Exhibit number 2 in the ‘advantages of mobile warfare and hugging the enemy’. This is also why I think all light artillery in rebel hands should be mounted on vehicles (and supplemented with modified weaponised drones – modified as in is able to drop 2 or 3 shells instead of just 1) as it combines firepower with mobility which are two traits that are needed to launch successful mobile warfare operations. Couple this with mortar/ATGM/IED-operator teams (as well as snipers) having their own transport and the motorbike assault-teams then have 50+ ordinary riflemen to assist you will by default have created an ideal mobile company-sized (ie 100+ men) unit capable of launching mobile-guerrilla warfare operations anywhere at anytime that is never tied to one area but is constantly launching multiple operations in a single day and is capable of fighting at night. Now imagine groups of 5 or 6 such types of units in every province? Each coordinating with each other to launch surprise deep-behind-the-lines ambushes/raids in regime territory as well as launching decoy offensives in areas to misdirect regime units away from a main rebel offensive in that province? This is the type of model rebels should be moving towards. Because this is the type of army would be capable of doing things (ie track and attack) that the Russians, let alone the regime, would not be capable of (ie tracking and attacking fast rebels units hiding in the desert waiting for their next ambush).

  10. #Hama: 1) “Power line from the Mhardah electric plant runs next to Khattab, whose electricity is pretty important to the grid.” – @Jacm212
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    See my above comments about the importance of targeting regime infrastructure, remember economic warfare is as important as guerrilla warfare ergo combine the two (guerrilla warfare operations against infrastructure targets) and you create a powerful blow. Don’t believe? Look how quick rebels in Damascus were able to move onto their targets when they knocked out the electricity-grid on the first day of their offensive. My advice? Destroy that power-line and do that to every electric/thermal plant near the Orontes river as well as any gas/water pipelines found.
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    2) “reports ammo warehouses N. of Khattab are under Rebel control.” – QalaatAlMudiq
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    To the south-east direction of that place is (see link below) the Al-Sarout dam, destroyed that before the regime uses it as a weapon against rebels like they did in Mhardah last year.
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    http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.217435&lon=36.649361&z=14&m=b

  11. #Observation: Last year it was reported that Daeesh made the FSA in Yarmouk panic into giving more positions then they should have because Daeesh commanders spoofed/imitated being (after successfully hacking into FSA comms system) FSA commanders pretending to have fled their front-lines in order to make a Daeesh offensive bigger then it actually was. Rebels in Hama have already the names and IDs numbers of Republican Guards/SAA brigadier generals they’ve captured (whose comms codes they can acquire during interogations) from their offensives. Perhaps rebels too can borrow this trick by doing to (ie making their offensives in a sector bigger then it is to trigger a bigger retreat) SAA/NDF units in Hama what Daeesh did to the FSA in Yarmouk? Below is a link on how this was done –
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    http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/how-isil-tricked-syrias-rebels-into-self-betrayal-and-defeat
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    “Excerpt from the above link: “Details of those critical hours of darkness on the night of February 19 and morning of February 20, recounted by moderate rebels, paint a picture of ISIL as cunning, creative, fast-moving and risk-taking, as well as utterly ruthless.
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    “In contrast, their opponents in moderate rebel factions were easily confused, too quick to retreat and, in some cases, willing to betray their own side.
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    “A clever piece of deception lay at the heart of the capture of Tal Jamoa’a. The Khaled Bin Waleed Army hacked into moderate rebel communications and, posing as moderate commanders, announced that rebel lines had been breached in Heit, Sahem Al Joulan and Tseel, rebel-held villages abutting the Yarmouk basin, where the Khaled Bin Waleed Army has its stronghold.
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    “They told rebel units to retreat because ISIL had already overrun the villages. In fact, they had not.
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    “Simultaneously, ISIL sympathisers in rebel-held territory took control of the public address systems on village mosques and announced that ISIL was in control.”
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    So why not rebels try this trick on regime units in Hama/Damascus?

  12. Never trust the fake anti-imperialist russians:

    REPORT: IRAN ACCUSES RUSSIA OF GIVING ISRAEL CODES FOR SYRIAN AIR DEFENSES

    “According to the source, Damascus and Tehran “were shocked” every time the Russian-made air defense system did not work to defend Syria’s airspace, or even give notification that the air space had been penetrated in order to evacuate outposts prior to the airstrike.”

    http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-Iran-accuses-Russia-of-giving-Israel-codes-for-Syrian-air-defenses-484777?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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