This article originally appeared at Moon of Alabama
With some 125 strikes in three days the Russian bombing campaign continues to build. The U.S. media is now obsessed with the idea that Russia may be using “dumb bombs” instead of Syrian “barrel bombs”. This is becoming a new propaganda meme. But videos from the Russian airbase show that at least some of the planes are armed with KAB-500S-E satellite (GLONAST) guided bombs which are precise “smart” bombs. (Other pictures and video from the Russian air base show a quite comfortable life including air conditioned quarters, a mess tent, Gulaschkanonen, a bakery, a laundry etc. This base is not an improvised short-term installation.)
Besides that how is it more humane to kill by a precise bomb than by a “dumb bomb” or “barrel bomb”. Gaza was bombed by the Israelis with (U.S. produced) smart bombs. That did not lead to less destruction or killing. The recent Saudi (U.S. produced) bomb on the Yemen wedding that killed 130 people was also “smart” and hit right where it was targeted at.
The Russians bombed, as I earlier described, mostly in the corridor up to the Turkish border which is in the hand of al-Qaeda, Ahrar al Shams and CIA mercenaries. It alsobombed Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the Islamic State and killed a dozen fighters. In response to that the Islamic State canceled Friday prayers in Raqqa seemingly out of fear that any congregation of IS fighters would now get bombed.
Funny. The U.S. claimed for a year that it was seriously bombing the Islamic State. But the Friday prayers have never be canceled before. Could it be that the Islamic State did not believe the U.S. claims but now fears that the Russians really mean business?
The Syrian air-force had avoided bombing near the Turkish border as it rightly feared that Turkey might shoot down a Syrian jet. But the Russian can now do this. The ground bombing is done by the ground attack planes build for task, Su-24, Su-25 and Su-34, while above those planes Su-30M fighter jets armed with superfast, medium to long range R-27 air to air missiles give cover. These would shoot down any Turkish jet that would try to attack the Russian bombers. This is just to make sure that Erdogan does not get any stupid ideas.
The air campaign is also well coordinated with Syrian government forces on the ground. From a paywalled WSJ piece quoted here:
[T]housands of rebels regrouped in several enclaves north of Homs, in towns like al-Rastan and Talbiseh. Russian jets hit both civilian and military targets in these two towns and five surrounding villages, said Rashid al-Hourani, a Syrian army officer from the area who defected to the rebels in 2012.He said the airstrikes were followed with a barrage of artillery fire from several nearby positions where pro-regime Alawite and Shiite militias, including an Iran-backed group known as the Ridha Brigade, have been massing over the past few days.
The Syrian army will soon attack in coordination with the Russian air force and will try to regain northern territory along the M4 and M5 highway. That again would allow for a wider attack up to the Turkish border. Ground troop reinforcements from Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah are on their way or have already arrived. We are witnessing the build up to a wider battle.
The Guardian rumors that the Gulf states will counter the Russian move by providing more weapons:
Russia’s move clearly risks counter-action by countries supporting the rebels. According to one independent analyst, that may have already begun, with the Qataris – acting with the agreement of Saudi Arabia – flying in planeloads of weapons to Turkish airbases. “I would expect a huge influx of weapons into the north to try to blunt any ground assault by the regime,” the analyst said.
“The stakes are very high.”
And the Russian planes fly very high. They currently mostly fly above 5,000 meter and no Man-Portable-Air-Defense (MANPAD) missile can reach them. The people who get bombed do not even see or hear the planes coming. This will change when the Syrian army attacks and more direct ground support is needed but the planes to be used then are Su-25 and Su-34 build for that purpose and have armored cockpits.
The Russian airbase is protected by modern air defense on the ground and on Russian ships in the nearby sea. It is protected on the ground by some 1,250 Russian marines. It reportedly has ammunition and other supplies for at least three month. Nobody will mess with that base and the Russian campaign. It could not be done without very major forces and using such would practically guarantee a wider war with Russia, a nuclear superpower. Syria is Russia’s sister (vid) and will be defended.
The Obama administration has therefore decided that it willnot interfere with Russian attacks on CIA mercenaries and their al-Qaeda brother in arms. Some concerned trollingstatement gets issued but that is just for show.
But the female candidates for the next presidential elections are not that smart. Both, Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina, have called for a U.S. enforced no-fly zone over northern Syria which would of course mean starting a war with Russia and its allies. These women want to attack Russian forces to defend al-Qaeda! Note: The country to decide who is flying or not over Syria is Russia. Dear U.S. voters. Please do not ever again allow these maniacs anywhere near a powerful position.
The CIA mercenaries in Syria – 10,000 men trained, armed and paid under a secret program – are directly cooperating with al-Qaeda and the likewise terrorist Ahrar al Shams. The NYT finally acknowledges this in two pieces today. The firstsays:
The fighters advancing on that [northern] front were not from the Islamic State but from the Army of Conquest, a group that includes an affiliate of Al Qaeda known as the Nusra Front and other Islamist groups, including several more secular groups that have been covertly armed and trained by the United States.
A second piece on the Army of Conquest:
The alliance consists of a number of mostly Islamist factions, including the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate; Ahrar al-Sham, another large group; and more moderaterebel factions that have received covert arms support from the intelligence services of the United States and its allies.
The groups fighting together in the Army of Conquest of course share their weapons, ammunition and other supplies. They very likely also have similar ideologies. The CIA, under Obama, Petraeus and Brennan, has been knowingly arming al-Qaeda in Syria and has done so for quite a while. The NYT had pointed out a year ago that the CIA mercenaries are working with Islamists but that piece was somewhat mealymouthed and depicted it as a minor problem. It is also quite astonishing that in-between the 2014 piece and the two pieces today no NYT pieces on Syria mentioned that relation but instead concentrated on the Pentagon “five moderate rebels” clown show which was a mere diversion.
The Pentagon is playing dumb with regards to the people hit when the Russians bomb al-Qaeda positions:
Q: McCain says they hit CIA-backed rebels. I mean, presumably, you guys are looking at the same information. Is that true, or you’re uncertain? Where are we on that?COL. WARREN: Right, well – again, what I’ll say, Tom, is we don’t think they were ISIL. You know, who’s backing who, you know, that’s – I’m not going to get into that. I’m just not going to, particularly when you’re talking about – you know, it’s not even a DOD agency you’re referring to.
I take that as confirmation.
The Israelis are now also admitting that they work with al-Qaeda:
Together with some local militias Nusra is in charge of most of the 100-kilometer border with Israel on the Syria side of the Golan Heights. In recent years, Nusra slightly toned down its militant ideology due to the influence of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which provide it with financial support.
Nusra is in control of most of the border but so far has reached a tacit understanding not to turn its weapons against the Jewish state.
Nusra controls the border because Israel has helped it by firing at the Syrian army whenever Nusra needed help. The linked Jerusalem Post piece is also of interest with regards to the famous Odet Yinon plan as it confirms that destroying Middle Eastern nations into warlord statelets is supervised by the Israeli military intelligence:
Some years back, the intelligence community started to reassess the chaotic reality emerging in the Middle East. Maps drawn up by MI’s Research Department show states being replaced by organizations. …
That is the plan also for Syria. But with stronger support now forming up to regain Syrian territories that plan might well falter.