27 Dec 2017: "MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that main part of the battle with Islamic State in Syria was over, and the next key task in Syria now was to “destroy Jabhat al-Nusra"
11 Dec 2017: The Kremlin visits Syria, proclaims victory, and announces a drawdown of its combat forces. We shall see. If the Syrians can install a reconciliation regime as was done in South Africa, then it could go along way toward halting the bloodshed longer term.
Though the R-27 is older technology, it is thought that the Khibiny pods reduce the effectiveness of Western radio-spectrum weaponry (radar and AIM-120 class missiles) to acceptable levels.
[Above/Below] 15-Nov 2016: Su-33 on the Admiral Kuznetsov being loaded with FAB-500 M-54s for strikes on Syria.
22-Aug 2016: Iran (publically) has publically reversed its decision to allow Russian aircraft to operate from TFB.3 at Hamedan, reportedly related to Iranian constitutional issues. We are not sure how Iran was planning on keeping this access a secret? We will wait to see how this develops.
We are no friend of the Assad regime, however, regime change orthodoxy in Syria should have been jettisoned long ago by the Pentagon and the CIA. After the outcomes of dictatorship regime change by Western intervention in Iraq and Libya - to continue to pursue this policy in Syria - shows a poor grasp of causality, and of history. Please see hyperlink.....this is a circus!
19-Aug 2016: We have a very troubling development in the Syrian city of Al-Hasakah. The United States could be on the precipice of losing control of its involvement in the Syrian Civil War – that is - US military forces actively fighting against the Assad government - not ISIS. Why US special forces were in the Syrian city of Hasakah rather than close to the Raqqa front - is a mystery. Some are reporting US personnel were withdrawn the next day. If true - smart move. We need the US civilian leadership and the Whitehouse to own, define, and drive US policy - not the Pentagon and CIA.
Due to events in Hasakah and now Turkish intervention - out of an abundance of caution -, this is the Air Tasking Order from the Pentagon and the UN Security Council - that should be issued immediately:
"Because the United States and its coalition partners have neither been invited into Syria nor has war been declared against Syria or its partners, all aircraft in Syrian airspace other than those of the:
1. Syrian Arab Air Force
2. Russian Air Force
3. Iraqi Air Force
4. Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
are prohibited from carrying air-to-air missiles over Syrian airspace.
Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) has no air force in Syria; therefore air-to-air missiles carried by US-coalition aircraft have no legitimate purpose except to employ them against ‘1’ through ‘4.’
US-coalition aircraft may retain an internal gun, electronic countermeasures, and flare/chaff dispensers for self-defense. All air-to-air weapons are prohibited.
Violators will be photographed, national origin and tail number recorded and escorted out of Syrian airspace.
Repeat offenders could be shot down and its aircrew returned to the nation of origin.
Aircraft that can carry air-to-air missile rounds in internal weapon bays - are prohibited."
16-Aug 2016: In a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense "On August 16, 2016, Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 tactical bombers took off from the “Hamedan” airbase (the Islamic Republic of Iran) and carried out a concentrated airstrike on objects of the ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groupings in the provinces of Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib."
It is presently unclear if Tu-22M3 aircraft returned to Hamedan AB in Iran - or to their home base in Russia. We will not update our current assessment until more information is available. Current assessment based on Russian Tu-22M3 bombers being launched and recovered for missions in Syrian theater from TFB.3 at Hamedan.
Hamedan Air Base in western Iran. Runway lengths was almost certainly the determining factor and are ~ 4,359 m, (14,300 ft) long. This basing will dramatically increase the Backfire sortie rate and payload capacity against targets in the region. From TFB.3, each Tu-22M could carry in excess of sixty 500 lbs bombs for targets in Syria. Operation 'Arc Light' comes to mind. This should also dispel any illusions about what the outcome of the Syrian Civil War will be. With Backfire bombers now based in theater (?? developing story) expect recent gains by anti-government forces in Aleppo to be pounded and rolled back, together with a corresponding worsening (already appalling) humanitarian situation there. In a cruel twist of irony, most (if not all) Iranian military air bases were built by the Americans to power-project into the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The relationship between Moscow and Tehran is evolving rapidly - be it a bit unevenly - and doing so increasingly outside the sphere of the United States.
piece appeared on the front page of the New Your Times. We're pleased the NYT has seen fit to publish what we have assessed - back in March 2016. In a very real sense, it is Saudi Arabia that thinks it can win a proxy war against the Russian military - in Syria.
elements have opened a corridor through the government siege of Aleppo - attacking from both sides. So there is still some seesawing back and forth in the final chapter of this horrific war. WW1-style tunnel bombs were also used to start the attack. Operating in daylight means airpower is not a deciding factor currently - so the rebels may have achieved surprise for now. This could mean two things: 1) the rest of the surrounding Aleppo pocket shrinks and 2) government and Russian airpower will appear shortly in mass to attrit the rebel breakout/push. Most believe if you can take Aleppo is war can effectively be ended. Even with this success by rebels - the inertia is still with pro-government forces. Civilians caught in the middle of this kind of heavy weapons fighting are in for a very bad time.
We had not planned on writing more on Syria, but after the gains made by government forces and the continued impressive execution by the Russian military (one of the few times in history that direct observation of actual Russian combat operations is possible), it was time for another post. Most Western assessments of Russian capabilities have been completely off the mark, (and unfortunately nothing new). Assessments western policymakers need to start seriously revisiting. The Soviet military that entered Afghanistan in 1979 is not the same military we are seeing in Syria. Too many observers have omitted the mounting evidence of increasing combat effectiveness displayed during the Second Chechen War, the 2008 campaign against Georgia, and a hand in the encirclement of Ukrainian forces (collapse of the Debaltseve pocket) in the Donbass in February 2015.
We had a suspicion that Russia would manipulate (read: simplify) the battlefield in Syria as to force the various rebel groups to either stop fighting - or join with jihadists groups. Indeed, this is exactly what appears to be occurring. Either way, all those opposing Assad become fair game.
The war in Georgia in 2008 should have been a teachable moment for the global defense press - it was not. 2008 was revealing in that the Russian military was able to prevail while operating under impossible IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) conditions. Opposing forces in Georgia employed the same aircraft, helicopters, and armor/vehicle types. There is a high probability that losses suffered by the Russians (and the disarray displayed by Georgians) was partly a result of IFF issues – something totally missed by both Western and Russian defense analysts.
Part of this is a function of Russia being forced to confront the vast proliferation of its own machinery around the globe.
The Syrian war has many of the same IFF dimensions as the Georgian campaign. Though accidents can occur, this type of IFF delineation proficiency (who the good guys are, who the bad guys are - while all sides using the same equipment) especially in engaging ground elements with airpower, appears to be a growing capability in the Russian military - that could exceed the delineation proficiency of the West.
10-July 2016: [Below] Video of a SyAAF Mi-35M helicopter experiencing explosions east of Palmyra - that takes off a portion of the tail, crew KIA. Details still emerging. The SyAAF Mi-35M has non-retractable landing gear vs the RuAF retracting gear of the Mi-24P in Syria. A second RuAF Mi-24P Hind is unscathed. There appears to be a smoke trail from the 7o'clock position that hits the tail.
The audio is poor (there is no sound of AAA fire) and witnesses appear confused about what they are seeing. Something appears to happen on both sides of the aircraft alternating back and forth near the primary weapons. As if rockets are being fired. This could also be consistent with a rocket pod malfunction? There are flashes on the starboard side but no heavy gunfire heard. Our best guess currently is MANPAD.
[ACIG] As of 01-July 2016 SyAAF losses:
2016-06-27 Helicopter hit by SA-8 over Eastern Ghouta, crew are safe.
2016-06-27 MiG-23BN from Seen AB crashed in Qalamoon mounts pilot Col. Nader Ramadan KIA
2016-07-02 Su-22M-3 from Dmeir AB crashed near Jeirood, pilot Maj. Nawras Hasan, POW then executed.
2016-07-02 Mi-25 from Blai AB downed by MANPAD Qalamoon area, both pilots General Mohammad Badr Mahmoud Hasan and Cap. Zein Nayef Khalloof KIA in addition to a third crew technician Col. Adnan Munir Al-Salem.
2016-07-07 SyAAF Mi-35 crashes after an explosion east of Palmyra, crew KIA.
This is the first time in memory we have seen SyAAF SA.342L Gazelles operating and using their (HOT) antitank missiles no less.
Kremlin support has enabled the Syrian Army and SyAAF to reconstitute their fighting abilities. This included sending Syrian Army officers back to Russia for retraining. Having said that, this is an all-Russian show. We predicted after assessing the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015 and in particular - after the impressive display of RuAF Mi-24P employment proficiency - operating through hails of ground fire - that the gig was up - and the Syrian war could effectively be concluded by the summer of 2016. The taking of Palmyra this week (late March 2016) would support that assessment. There is no actorez-Zor. Russian airstrikes are already occurring there. We expect Deir ez-Zor to fall to government forces and Russian airpower within the 2nd to 3rd weeks in April 2016 (new update). If nothing changes - thankfully the Daesh in Syria - it appears it will be routed. Given the state of affairs the region, this is not an unimpressive feat.
Since our above assessment in March 2016 it appears now the flood of weapons arriving by actors supporting anti-Assad forces - will drag the war on into 2017. Its too bad because the US should have pulled back (or out) of Syria when Russa, Iran, Iraq entered the war to bolster Assad. Not because we have any love for the Syrian regime - but to avoid total failed state in Syria. We already know what will result - a very real jihadists transnational-threat, fueled with petrol-dollars, starting a Second Syrian Civil War, and attacking all infidels inside and outside Syria. A threat Assad never posed. The Pentagon and the CIA really need to be reeled in.
We would urge the Russians to steer clear of Western-style military-incrementalism. It gives your adversary too much time to adapt - and can cause your desired outcomes to either move out of reach or result in defeat. Military-incrementalism is lethal to victory. Don't do it.
PHOTOS: null City Of Palmyra After ISIS Was Driven Out
[Above/Below] Russian flown Mi-24P helicopters showing proper employment of the Hind type.
"Syrian forces pursue campaign against Islamic State after retaking Palmyra"
There have been persistent reports of heavier than normal civilian casualties since the Russian intervention. This is consistent with war during any taking of territory. As uncomfortable as this is to point out - civilians do not (do not) have an expectation of safety during a heavy weapons offensive. During the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes during WWII, towns caught in the fighting were leveled by both sides. Civilians living there must not expect that they can go to the market, send kids to school, and live normal lives during this type of fighting. Civilians and medical staff alike must heed leaflet drops and use common sense – and get out if possible.
tunnel networks that have arisen during years of civil war. Having said that, a depopulation strategy by Assad could still be in play?
19-June 2016: Major push in southern Aleppo countryside. Some of the clearest images of the fighting we've so far. Terrain consistent with this area. Purportedly it is pro-government IRGC engaged with the ‘JAF’ collection known as the “Army of Conquest.”
Map shows another push to 'Al Tabqah' closer to Raqqa. Note the terrain in the VBIED attack video below This thrust by pro-government forces has since been repelled by Daesh. The SAA need air cover - no exceptions. No excuses. Assertions that Assad is working with the Daesh is another complete fairytale as the liberation of Palmyra and the SAA push Raqqa attests.
17-June 2016: An issue we have repeatedly been warning about - and discussed at length on this blog - please see link. There is little doubt that some Russian decisions being made in Syria (and elsewhere) are based on a weakened and weakening America. We would strongly urge the reader to study this hyperlink closely.
09-June 2016: Government forces and the Russians continue to move on Raqqa from the south. These images are not being shown on Western media outlets - and so we provide them here:
tunnel networks are located - there is a legitimate problem making a categorical assertion of deliberate targeting (of hospitals and civilians) by Russia or anyone else. There is no reasonable expectation of safety in the insanity of war. International watchdog groups need to be a lot smarter about this issue.
[Below] Aleppo, use of thermite munitions, most likely Russian. The composition of combat power now being brought to bear in Syria by the Russian Federation (and also CENTCOM near Raqqa) will produce only one outcome. All opposition forces including Deash - effectively crushed. Battlefield victory in Syria will be heralded by the start of an insurgency for a period of time. We say a period of time because dictators can be very good at crushing dissent (aka Egypt), and Syria is already through its rebellion-to-civil war political cycle.
05-June 2016: "[Syrian] Government troops backed by Russian airstrikes cross into Raqqa province for the first time since August 2014." This is in combination with Kurdish/US special forces advancing on Raqqa from the north. It would appear that Washington and the Kremlin can work together when enough interest overlap. This idea should be strongly nurtured for the future. An abbreviated Russian airpower assessment has appeared by Tom Cooper.
24-May, 2016: [Below] Images have appeared purporting to show Russian Air Force Mi-24s destroyed on the ground at T4 Air Base, between Homs and Palmyra. As more evidence comes in, it is unclear if it is due to hostile action. Stay tuned. The Russian Duma has asked the military to destroy 'al-Nusra' front. so perhaps al-Nusra was involved?
If hostile action: we would expect some aerial-denial sorties (aerial mining) by Russian fighter-bombers along the flanks of Russian supply routes, to keep hostile indirect-fire out of reach? We will likely see the relocation of weapon-location-radar combined with self-propelled artillery in forward areas, for hostile indirect-fire suppression. The Russian Federation should assume that all hostile forces in Syria have access to open-source satellite imagery. Forward deployments are inherently always (always) dangerous, and should deploy aerial-reconnaissance deception technologies (decoys) under these conditions.
In a possible related development [below] this video purports to show Daesh units being escorted away from Eastern Qalamoun by SyAAF gunships. Daesh command and control could be breaking down, however, there is presently no way to verify whom precisely is driving down this road. If accurate, dealings with the Vichy regime by the Allies in WWII come to mind.
More video claiming to be ISIS attacking Turkish self-propelled artillery with 9M133 'Kornet' ATGM. Together with the shelling of Turkish towns in the south earlier, it is obvious that Daesh (or their supporters) are vigorously attempting to expand the war.
16-May 2016: Pantsir S-1 deployment in Palmyra to kill hostile aerial reconnaissance drones-quadcopters including those of the Daesh. ISIS has been attempting a counter-attack in the area. Quadcopter drone reconnaissance has become a new norm of war, even for non-state actors.
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