Syria War: The Battle for the Capital of ISIS – Part I

Dear Readers:

You may be aware that the Syria War entered a new stage in the past week or so.  Things are looking up for the combined forces of the Syrian Army, with assistance from the Russian armed forces and also Hezbollah.  Syrian tanks made a Rommel-like “lightning move” eastward all the way to the Iraqi border, cutting off ISIS/Daesh units from their Iraqi supplies.  While this was going on, the pro-American so-called “coalition forces” entered  Raqqa.   Like the wiki says, Raqqa, a strategic Syrian city located on the Northeast bank of the Euphrates River, was captured by ISIS in 2013 and became the capital of their Islamic State.

The Headchoppers had their day in the sun, but now their time is almost up.  It’s not an issue of “if”, but of “when” and “who”.  And the race is on:  the Americans seeking to gain some advantage and carve up the Syrian carcass to their own advantage.  On the other side:  the Syrian government and their Russian allies seeking to keep Syria together in one piece, while making some internal adjustments to benefit, for example, the Kurds.

To help explain the highly fluid military situation, I have this piece from VZGLIAD, by military/intelligence reporter Evgeny Krutikov.  The headline reads:

The Battle for ISIS Capital City will Prove a Tough Slog for the Americans

The lede paragraph translates thusly:

The Syrian Opposition, with the assistance of the U.S., hastily entered Raqqa, the capital of ISIS, in an attempt to overtake the pro-government Syrian forces.  For the Americans it is a matter of principle to overtake Assad’s forces and to not allow the Shiites to gain control over the borders of the Syrian Arab Republic.  The question now is:  Will they succeed?  It is not excluded that the Americans will find an unpleasant surprise waiting for them.

Without further ado or commentary of my own, here is my summary/partial translation of the rest of Krutikov’s piece:



Captain Jeff Davis

Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis informed journalists about the operation to take Raqqa away from ISIS.  The Americans have deployed marines and Apache attack helicopters.  Captain Davis stated that the marines are using 155-millimeter M777 Howitzers (big mounted guns).  Under the shield of these howitzers, units of the “Syrian Democratic Opposition” have entered Raqqa and are busy liberating the city.

Can American howitzers defeat ISIS?

The Americans have also stated that they have been launching strikes against ISIS off their big boats in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Americans have long been embedded among the Kurds, both as “military advisors” and battle support.  However, in principle the Americans do not give heavy weaponry to their allies, since the Israelis object to that.  Tel-Aviv has a vested interest in not allowing long-range artillery or rocket systems to get into the hands of any of the players in this Middle Eastern game.  Therefore the American advisors have been forced to drag these howitzers and heavy grenade launchers around themselves, through the mountains and deserts.  The Americans are also expected to personally control the “electronic serenades”, which is what they call the weapons-aiming controlling systems.  Although, to be sure, nowadays these controlling systems can be deployed on a single light notebook computer.

Kurdish fighters: “Give us your secret codes!”

Electronic controlling systems have been around since World War I, but nowadays they involve a lot of cryptography, and the Pentagon doesn’t want people like the Kurds getting their hands on this good stuff.  Otherwise, who knows, they might sell all this fruit of higher mathematics and cybernetics to the Persians, and that would be a catastrophe!

The American marines are not directly involved in combat at this point.  They play a role somewhere between rear-guard support and Hospitality-Vacation organizer.  It is difficult to get Kurds, whatever their religion, tribal affiliations, or political allegiance, to operate beyond what they regard as their “natural aureal”.  They must be constantly harried, promised things, paid, and verbally praised.  Otherwise, they won’t budge.

Under Hafez al-Assad (President of Syria from 1971 to 2000), the Kurdish people were discriminated against, they did not enjoy full citizenship rights and did not carry passports, nor did they enjoy local autonomy.  But things improved for them, under the government of the son and current President, Bashar_al-Assad.  He restored civil rights to the Kurds and has promised them a broad autonomy, once the current conflict is over.

Astana: The foundations for a stable peace?

In fact, the current peace negotiations taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan, are focused on resolving the Kurdish issue once and for all.  Leaks coming out of the conferences indicate that the Syrian government are prepared to bend over backwards to accommodate the Kurds.  The very name of the country “Syrian Arab Republic” will change to, simply, “Syrian Republic”.  Thus cementing Syria as what it actually is, a multi-ethnic nation, not just Arabs.

In the face of these history-changing developments, how are the Americans expected to keep flogging the Kurds to swarm into Raqqa, a city they have never claimed and have zero interest in?

[to be continued]

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