ISIS/ISIL conflict in Syria/Iraq (No OpEd, No Politics)


A galley and toilet are located behind the crew seats.
Agreed on all before, but I think the toilet would just be a special flask (a bright orange one if it was me to eliminate any possibility of a mix up :p) and the galley would just be your lap.

But don't knock even that, being able to stand, stretch, walk around a little and even use a flask to relieve yourself and eat a sandwich over your knees makes a massive difference to your quality of life during a long mission. You can try this out if you are very healthy and a little mental by remaining strapped into your seat during of your next long haul flight and see how long you can last.

Even those little things make a massive difference after you have been stuck in a seat for more than a few hours.

I imagine there may be room for a bottle of Vodka, or maybe red wine. Doubt it, the wine that is…:rolleyes:

Back to bottling my Grenache
Everyone knows the Russians keep Vodka on their combat aircraft as a last-ditch emergency fuel reserve and/or weapon of last resort (please someone PS Putin holding a flaming Molotov Cocktail while leaning out of an upside down flanker). Wine isn't strong enough for that. :p


Lieutenant General
Registered Member
The last 48 hours, 5 French strikes in support of Iraqi Forces, CAS missions

Iraqi Army reinforcements arriving in northern Ramadi to partake in upcoming operation

janjak desalin

Junior Member
I think what the Russians desperately needs right now are AWACS and other airborne specialist monitoring and intelligence gathering aircraft, to both co-ordinate their efforts, and also better monitor the battlespace for both air and land bound activity.[...]
I see that my question,
[...]Would the A-50 (AWACS) in combination with the S-400 system provide Russia with a more, and the most, comprehensive regional situational-awareness they could achieve? Are these two systems capable of co-operative engagement? Or is the S-400 complex sufficient to the present situation (which could change quite rapidly)?
has gained some traction! ;)


Lieutenant General
Registered Member
Iraqi army warns of imminent assault on IS-held Ramadi
The US military believes there are between 600 and 1,000 IS militants in Ramadi.
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Then after last Iraqi offensive which have cleared the area, captured the bridge to north on Euphrates remains it surrounded and after they can go further along the river up to Hit about 50 km.

janjak desalin

Junior Member
Iraqi army warns of imminent assault on IS-held Ramadi
So, Iraq presses the action in the south while Syria presses the action in the north. If Iraq secures Anbar Province, Syria secures Aleppo Province (from ISIL), and YPG/SDF secure Ar Raqqa Province, this would leave Deir Az Zor, in Syria, and Mosul, in Iraq, as locations for ISIL's last stand/zero options. I always figured that they'd end up being chased into the desert, near Khabrat Sunaysilah, Iraq.



Here is an interesting, and very frank assessment of the situation on the Turkish boarder, and offers both possible insight into the calculus and rational for the massive gamble Turkey took in ambushing the Russian Su24, as well as the rationale for Putin alleging that the shoot down was to protect Turkey's illicit oil trade with ISIS.

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Turkey gambles on the Turkmens
Author: Fehim TaştekinPosted November 30, 2015

The Syrian army’s gradual expansion of its operational area with Russian support and the United States' beefing up of the Kurdish-Arab-Syriac coalition (aka the Syrian Democratic Forces) are further restricting Turkey’s options in Syria.
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The Turkmen card Turkey is playing in Syria is likely to backfire and endanger the Turkmens.
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Posted November 30, 2015
TranslatorTimur Göksel
Turkey has had problems supporting Salafi jihadists because of international reactions that shifted its calculations about Turkmens since the summer.

In response to the plans by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to move westward and expel the Islamic State from Jarablus, Turkey has declared the Euphrates River a red line for the Kurds. Once it is cleared of IS, Turkey is planning to use the Turkmens to control both these areas and the Azez-Aleppo line, which is being considered for a buffer zone. Such plans naturally upped the value of the
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. Turkey, unable to prevent the Russian bombing against the groups supported by the West and the Gulf, has pushed back with the Turkmens.

But the Russians ignored the Turkish moves and expanded their operations to Turkmen Mountain.

Once it assumes the control of Turkmen Mountain with Russian air support, the Syrian army will score several significant points:

  • It will be easier for the Syrian army to enter Idlib and Jisr al-Shughur, which are now being controlled by the Army of Conquest, with its key components of Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

  • Logistics lines to opposition forces in the region will be severed. Smuggling routes from Yayladag-Hatay in Turkey have served as the main supply routes for the opposition at Bayirbucak for the past four years.

  • The opposition’s hope of reaching the Mediterranean will remain a dream.

  • Attacks on Latakia, where the Russians have deployed, will end when Turkmen Mountain is lost.

  • Once it takes control of Turkmen Mountain, the Syrian army will point its guns at the protected zone envisaged by Turkey.
Nearby Jabal Akrad (Kurdish Mountain) is as important as Turkmen Mountain. Jabal Akrad is currently controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and Ansar al-Sham, which frequently launch joint operations with the Turkmens.

Although the technical reason for
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was an airspace violation, the real reason is the risk of losing the
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— the area now controlled by the opposition groups — and the increasing possibility of losing control of the entire liberated zone.

Over the past few weeks the Syrian army has recaptured Qatil Maaf, Firinlik, Acisu and Kizildag north of Turkmen Mountain and Gimam, Sawanli, Zuwaik, Deir Khan and Toros to its south. Kizildag changed hands several times. If the regime can capture Kizildag, it will be easy for it to control 17 Turkmen villages in the area.

Turkey attaches strategic importance to dominating this area and is counting on Turkmens to confront IS in rural Aleppo. The Turkmens’
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was the result of this plan.

But many wonder how strong Ankara’s Turkmen card is and how effective it will be. A little background may help in understanding the situation:

When the Syrian uprising began in 2011, the Syrian Turkmens began organizing in the civilian and military spheres with Turkey’s support. Until then, Turkmens, who generally lived in villages and worked in agriculture, were not a politicized and organized community. Turkmens in the villages of Homs, Latakia, Damascus, Raqqa, Hama, Idlib and Daraa did not have an urban base, in contrast to the Kurds, who controlled Qamishli. It was the Turkmens who had settled in Turkey and pioneered post-2011 efforts to create a political movement with a diaspora flavor. The first organization that emerged in 2011 was the Syrian Turkmen Movement, which tried to get the Turkmens to take to the streets to protest the regime. Next, 180 Turkmens living in Turkey established the Union of Syria Turkmens. These two organizations united in November 2011 under the Syrian Turkmen Mass (STK) to boost their representation capacity. But they eventually split and the
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(SDTH) was set up in March 2012.

The SDTH has been more active in Aleppo, while the STK focuses on Bayirbucak. STK activities are run from offices in Turkish border provinces. Their activities in Latakia are being directed from Yayladag, Raqqa from Akcakale and Aleppo from Gaziantep. Under the strong influence of Turkey, the Syrian National Council allotted 16 seats to Turkmens while the Syrian National Coalition offered them three seats.

In addition to the two main Turkmen groups, some influential Turkmens living in Turkey formed the Syrian Turkmens Platform. The platform working under the tutelage of the Turkish Foreign Ministry pioneered the creation of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly that sought to unify the Turkmens.

On Dec. 15, 2012, the then-speaker of Turkey’s parliament, Cemil Cicek, and then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attended the unification meeting in Istanbul. The Turkmen Assembly was officially established in a March 2013 meeting attended by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Davutoglu. In the second session of the assembly, held in Ankara May 9-10, 2014, a 42-person legislative assembly and 13-person executive council were elected from among some 350 delegates. The Turkish parliament recognized the Turkmen Assembly as the legitimate representative of Turkmens.

As for the military activities of the Turkmens, many armed units were set up after 2012. Turkmen units participated in the
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on March 21, 2014, by jihadist groups to capture the Armenian towns of Kasab and Samra.

In operations on Aug. 4-19, 2013, Alevi villages were raided and some 200 civilians were killed. IS and Jabhat al-Nusra also joined Turkmens in these attacks. Meanwhile, there was regular rocket fire from Turkmen Mountain toward Latakia.

Turkmens who were suspected of being the “legacy of the Ottomans” when Syria was first created threw themselves into the ring of fire by participating in the armed resistance under the guidance of Turkey.

Apart from some who came to Turkey to study and then to settle down, Turkmens never had strong political ties with Turkey. The Turkish government was more concerned with the Turkmens of
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and Mosul in Iraq than with the Syrian Turkmens. But after abandoning Iraqi Turkmens to IS, Turkey decided that Syrian Turkmens could be useful and set up close ties with the Turkmens concentrated in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, considered the capital of the revolution.

Should the Syrian army impose its control on the region, Syrian Turkmens will face the danger of being identified as Turkey's “fifth column,” with all that label implies. Moreover, Turkey’s game plan of placing Turkmens as a barrier to the Kurdish YPG is also planting the seeds of enmity between the Kurds and Turkmens.
Logistics and supply lines run both ways, arms and fresh fighters are flowing across the boarder into Syria from Turkey, while valuable resources are flowing back into Turkey, much of that in the form of oil.

The downed Russian Su24 was conducting operations to help secure those mountains to cut ISIS' main supply routes. In doing so, they will also cut off much of the illicit oil being smuggled into Turkey. That's probably Putin's rationale for accusing Turkey of shooting down its plane to protect its oil trade with ISIS.

Unless, of course, the FSB managed to uncover some damning evidence of this trade that implicates the Turkish government.
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it's been almost a month since

So, I'll try to occasionally follow five direction:
  1. Aleppo (including access routes: "M5" and through Khanasir);
  2. Talbiseh pocket;
  3. Salma;
  4. suburbs of Damascus;
  5. Tall Sayyad salient ...
... and until the downing of that Su-24, one week ago, it was relatively easy for me to find updates in Russian Internet (and elsewhere), but now even the official Russian Air Force reports are not available (remember grandiose scenes like Nov 17, 2015
? will they be back?); the last report, according to a well-known Red Russian blogger
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is from November 26! available at
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EDIT click on like purple bar if interested is seeing their map

By the way yesterday it was two months since the Russian operation began.

Most recently I haven't seen anything coming from more than one source for directions 2 - 5 above; as for Aleppo area:

pretty much agrees with the animation inside of
and as for the outer perimeter of the Kuweiris Airbase:

this view is more or less the same as what's right now at
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here's what DefenseNews has to say:
Pentagon may send more U.S. troops to Syria
The Pentagon will consider deploying more special operations troops to fight Islamic State militants if its pilot project in Syria shows signs of progress, a senior Defense official told USA TODAY on Monday.

The Pentagon last month announced that 50 commandos would be sent to northern Syria to advise forces battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS. Sending that initial force amounts to "breaking the seal" on inserting special operations forces in Syria and could lead to further deployments, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about planning. The Pentagon will not comment on whether those commandos have arrived in Syria.

The trigger for sending more special operations forces, the official said, is the ability of local forces to take ground from ISIL in Syria and hold it. Adding more forces on the ground in Syria would represent a significant deepening of the U.S. commitment to the counter-ISIL effort, potentially requiring additional forces to support them. There are about 3,400 American forces in Iraq.

The Pentagon's counter-ISIL strategy will be the focus of a hearing Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee; Defense Secretary Ash Carter is scheduled to testify.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Texas Republican who chairs the committee, said in an interview that he would support a greater commitment of U.S. ground forces to Syria and Iraq, including spotters for airstrikes, if they are part of more robust strategy to confront the Islamic State.

"The issue is OK, What would it take to really degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS?" Thornberry said. "Send however many guys or assemble whatever coalition is necessary to accomplish that goal."

Thornberry dismissed the deployment of 50 commandos as a half measure that won't work.

"Fifty guys to be deployed is not going to turn the tide of this battle," he said.

Syria has been wracked by civil war that has killed 250,000 people and has seen the rise of ISIL, which claims the city of Raqqa as its de facto capital.

The ability of moderate local forces to seize territory from ISIL will likely be a key measure in the Pentagon's assessment. The Pentagon trumpeted the offensive by Kurdish peshmerga forces who retook the village of Sinjar in northern Iraq. That operation in mid-November was backed by U.S. airstrikes and benefited from American special operations forces who advised the Kurds from a safe distance.

The most likely spot for adding U.S. special operators would be in northeastern Syria, said Nicholas Heras, a Syrian expert at the Center for a New American Security. There, a "slowly growing, if shaky" coalition called the Syrian Democratic Forces includes Arabs and Kurds willing to fight ISIL and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, he said.

"My assessment is that U.S. (special operations) forces are seeking to determine if local partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces coalition can clear-and-hold ISIS-controlled areas of eastern and northern Syria," Heras said.

Thornberry advocated an even more muscular military approach to confronting ISIL, including the establishment of no-fly zones inside Syria to protect refugees and those fighting ISIL. He called for more airstrikes, with limited restrictions on targets that can be hit, coordinated by U.S. spotters on the ground. He acknowledged that deploying those troops would require the commitment of additional forces, including search and rescue units.

Thornberry also called for a four-star commander to take charge of the mission. Currently, the counter-ISIL effort is commanded by a three-star Army officer, Lt. Gen.Sean MacFarland. Thornberry said he favors sending more arms and equipment to Kurds and Sunni forces fighting ISIL.

"Until there are some military reverses on the battlefield to take the luster off of ISIS's shine, then they will continue to grow, continue to recruit and their ideology will spread," Thornberry said.

On Sunday, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called for the deployment of 20,000 U.S. troops to fight ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

In Iraq, the U.S. military is prepared to do more to assist Iraqi forces who have surrounded the provincial capital of Ramadi, the official said. But moving beyond what the Pentagon has already supplied — airstrikes, surveillance and equipping and training Iraqi troops — will require that Iraqi troops moved to retake the city, the official said. They have been slow to attack it after fleeing Ramadi without a fight in May.
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