Syrians lift two year blockade by ISIS around Kweires Air Base near Aleppo

Week Six of the Russian Intervention in Syria: A First Major Success For The Syrian Armed Forces
By The Saker

November 17, 2015 ”

Information Clearing House” – “Unz Review” –  Finally. After weeks of gruelling combat the Syrian armed forces have liberated the Kuweyres air base in northern Syria. This is a huge victory for the Syrians because during the 2,5 year long siege of the airbase it had become an important symbol of the Syrian determination to resist the Takfiris in general and, especially, Daesh which had deployed its best fighters to maintain the siege of the base and prevents its liberation. In fact, the Takfiris did resist with everything they had up to the last moment. For those of you interested in video and photos of the combats and liberation of Kuweyres I would recommend the site of Colonel Cassad and specifically these posts: (in Russian)

Many of these images and videos are for a “mature audience” only, but they do convey the sense of victory for the Syrian side and I highly recommend watching them. Up to this moment all the successes of the Syrian armed forces were limited in importance whereas the liberation of Kuweyres not only represents a huge moral victory for the Syrians, but it also has an “operational significance” meaning that it actually changes the shape and dynamic of the front (click here for a high resolution map of the area). Put simply: the Syrian have now seized the initiative from Daesh and they are now on the offensive. As for Daesh, they now have to allocate their forces to prevent the Syrians from further exploiting their success in Kuweyres. Most observers, including myself, were hoping for, or even expecting, such a development, but now it has finally happened. This is very, very good news.


There was, by the way, an interesting if little noticed side story to this event: according to the Russian military, the “moderate opposition” gave key intelligence to the Russian to target the “terrorists” around the airbase. Here is what RT reported about that:

Syrian government forces received intelligence on terrorist positions around the besieged Kweires airbase from opposition sources, which helped them lift the two-year blockade, the Russian Defense Ministry has revealed. “This airfield had been surrounded by ISIS [the former name of the Islamic State terrorist group] for two years,” Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian defense ministry, said in a daily briefing. “Intelligence on the locations of the terrorist fire positions and support points around Kweires was provided by the Syrian opposition and cleared by the communication center in Baghdad.” Lifting the siege on the airbase in Aleppo provinces has been one of the biggest victories for Damascus since Russia started providing air support for Syrian government forces. The opposition also provided data to help target a big weapons depot of the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, near the village Mheen in the Homs province, Konashenkov revealed.

For one thing, as far as I know, the so-called “moderate opposition” is mostly a myth, and to the degree that it does exist, it is in Turkey and in London. Furthermore, I don’t remember the so-called FSA playing any major role around Kuweyres. So what is going on here?

Well, maybe the Russians just made up this putative intelligence sharing in order to show that they are working hand-in-glove with the “moderate opposition” or, which is far more likely, some folks associated with Daesh felt that the tide was turning and decided to re-brand themselves as “moderates” and gave the Russians some intel in exchange for money and life. This kind of sudden “coat turning” is typical of the Takfiris and the Russians saw plenty of that in Afghanistan. If my guess is correct, then this further goes to show that Daesh is beginning to seriously hurt under the combined effects of the Russian and Syrian offensives. Again, this is very good news indeed.

Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, also immediately declared that the liberation of the Kuweyres airbase “resilience, strength, determination, and vigor of the soldiers and officers of the Syrian Arab Army”. He is right.

There is no overstating the heroism of the Syrians who fought and refused to surrender even though they had no meds and minimum food and supplies. But then, since they would not surrender, their only options were to fight to the end or die. And they fought, alone, for over two years. This is why the first Russian reporter who got into Kuweyres wrote “У сирийцев теперь есть свой Сталинград” (the Syrians now have their own Stalingrad).

Having taken Kuweyres, the Syrian army continued its offensive and, according to the latest reports, the Syrians have no also liberated the towns of al-Hader and al-Heis. Following this latest Syrian victory, a Takfiri commander blamed it on the Russian Air Force and declaredThe heavy aerial bombardment of Al Hader and the surrounding area gave us no choice but to retreat, but these are to-and-fro battles, where we win ground one day and the next day we lose it“. Maybe.

Still, it is way too early to celebrate. Following weeks of intense fighting and only tactical victories, the Syrians have now achieved their first operational breakthrough, but they will need several more before they can contemplate a strategic offensive against Daesh. This is something which the USA and, even more so, Turkey and Qatar are going to try to prevent with everything they got. Here again, it is important to repeat, that the very small Russian force in Syria does not have the means to, for example, prevent Turkey from moving its forces into Syria.

At this point in time, I would judge Turkey and Qatar as even more dangerous than the USA. Why? Because they both put way too much prestige and, especially, money into ousting Assad and building a pipeline across Syria to link their two countries and they know that as long as Assad or any other secular regime remains in power in Damascus they can forget about it. In fact, if the Russian-Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi-Hezbollah alliance is successful in flushing out Daesh from Syria, were will all the Takfiri freaks go? The risk here is not only for Turkey, but even for the Saudis!

In contrast, Obama will soon be gone anyway and its not like the USA has a real national strategic interest in Syria (unless you assume that pleasing AIPAC is such a vital goal). Yes, it would be humiliating for the “indispensable nation” to miserably fail only to have a “local power” like Russia brilliantly succeed, but this humiliation can always be blamed on the outgoing Administration and used to get more votes. As for the US “deep state”, it knows that it can work with Assad only because it used to work with him very nicely before it decided to dump him (Assad even tortured “rendered” suspects on behalf of the CIA!). So keeping Assad in power might be humiliating but not much more than all the other humiliation the AngloZionst Empire already had to suffer at the hands of Putin.

Speaking of Putin, he made an important statement this week: while initially Russian officials had declared that the Russian military operations would last approximately 3 months, Putin has now declared that “the duration of stay of our military will be determined solely depending on the time this objective is achieved”. This could indicate a far longer Russian involvement.

I might be mistaken, in fact, I hope that I am, but I don’t see how Daesh could be defeated without an increase of the size of the Russian military force in Syria and, especially, an increase in the number of Iranians supporting the Syrians on the ground. Nobody will be happier than me if I am proven wrong, believe me.

Final event this week: it appears that the Russians are further digging in and that they have now deployed S-400 missile system on their base in Khmeimim. Depending on how you look at it, this either doubles the air defense capabilities of the Russian naval task force off the Syrian coast, or frees the guided missile cruiser Moskva for other tasks. Curiously, Russian officials have denied that S-400s are deployed in Syria. Either way, this is good news as the the deeper the Russian dig in into their positions, the harder it will be to threaten them. All in all, a very good week for the resistance to Empire and there is real possibility that the next couple of weeks will see even bigger progress.



One Response to “Syrians lift two year blockade by ISIS around Kweires Air Base near Aleppo”

  1. salty says:

    A Syrian Breakthrough

    February 13, 2016.

    The Russians and their Syrian allies have cut the main supply line of the rebels to the north of Aleppo, the Azaz corridor. In our last report, we wrote about the Azaz corridor, “a narrow strip of land connecting Turkey to the rebel forces in Aleppo. Though it has been narrowed down to four miles in some places, the Syrian [government] Army can’t take it, despite the Russian aerial support. For the success of the whole operation, it is paramount to seize the corridor and cut the supply lines, but there is a heavy political flak and military difficulties. At the last Lavrov-Kerry meeting, the American State Secretary six times implored his Russian counterpart to keep hands off the Azaz corridor. The Americans do not want to see Russian victory; besides, the Turks threaten to invade Syria if the corridor is blocked.”

    Now the deed is done, the corridor is blocked. It was not a great battle that we would expect, instead a minor move towards a few Shia villages, but the corridor was so narrow that it was enough. My correspondents in the area tell of rebels running towards the Turkish border. They are followed by many civilians, afraid of the final battle for Aleppo which is probably coming – unless the rebels will vaporise and disappear. If and when Aleppo and the whole Aleppo district will be taken by the Syrian army, we would be able to congratulate Putin and Assad – and Syrian people – with a great victory.

    Until now, despite a few months of fighting and bombing, the Russians and the Syrians had few few spectacular achievements to show for their efforts. The warfare has been anything but a blitzkrieg, instead house after a house; small villages changing hands. Now things began to move, with Syrian army coming to the Turkish and Jordanian borders and cutting off the supply routes of the diverse rebel groups. The surrounded Islamists in Aleppo pocket still can fight for a long time, but it seems they have lost much of their fighting spirit.

    The Saudis unveiled their plans to send their crack troops to Syria, ostensibly “to fight terrorists”, but as a matter of fact, to prevent their defeat and to safeguard a part of Syrian territory under Salafist control. This could be a dangerous development, and President Assad promised that unbidden guests will go back home in coffins. However, the Saudis have no troops to send: their army is stuck in Yemen and has quite a hard time there fighting the indomitable Ansar Allah. Even there the Saudis have to rely upon Colombian mercenaries. If they will send the remainder of their forces to Syria, their homeland will remain exceedingly vulnerable for any unexpected development, be it an Ansar Allah counter-offensive, Iranian intervention or a large-scale Shi’a rising.

    The Russians raise alarms that a Turkish invasion into Syria is imminent. Russian media is foaming at the mouth about the perfidious Turks; a veritable Two Minutes Hate ritual (vide Orwell) on the state-managed TV channels being repeated a few times a day. The idea is to scare Turks stiff so they will not move while the operation in the North lasts. On the other side, the Russian opposition draws frightful scenarios of Janissaries slaughtering the Russian boys on the Syrian terrain. The Turkish media also tries to instil fear in the Russkies by saying what they can do.

    If you ever dived among the Red Sea coral, perhaps you encountered a peculiar fish called Abu Nafha in Arabic, a sort of blowfish. It turns into a balloon to scare off its potential enemies. This tactic is not limited to aqueous kingdom. The Brits are the best at it, and they unleashed a veritable panic campaign to undermine the Russian morale.

    In a quick succession, they broadcasted a few films on the BBC. They began with Putin as mega-oligarch, the richest man on earth, with forty (or four hundred?) billion dollars in his pocket. This was a favourite topic of Stanislav Belkovsky, a corpulent Russian Jewish opposition writer, who produced a few books about Putin in the best tradition of gutter journalism. He described the Russian president as a super-rich latent homosexual who wants to escape from Kremlin and enjoy peaceful indolent life in the warm seas. Mind you, he wrote that before Putin’s comeback in 2011. If Putin was so keen on retiring, he had a good opportunity to do it, instead of running for a new term of presidency.

    Now BBC blew the dust off this book and made a film about corrupt, rich and lazy Putin. The US Treasury acting undersecretary Adam Szubin immediately confirmed: yes, we know for sure that Putin is fabulously rich and exceedingly corrupt. Bill Browder, once Russia’s largest foreign investor, sentenced in absentia to a long jail term in Russia for his tax evasion and other tricks, said to CNN: Putin has US $200 billion. He keeps it on his offshore accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere, revealed Browder. As if it is possible to keep a large fortune hidden from the eyes of intelligence services! If Putin would have money hidden abroad, it would be confiscated or frozen by the US, years ago. You do not have to be a genius to know that: you can’t hide big money. A few million dollars, yes. Not even tens of millions.

    Such allegations seem a necessary part of a black PR campaign. Whoever they dislike is always described as the richest man in the world. Even such modest man as the Belarusian president Lukashenko did not escape this fate, let alone Putin. They called Muammar Gaddafy “fabulously rich”, and Saddam Hussein, too, but somehow nothing was found after their death, ever. Once, a ruler could keep riches in his strong room, modern money is just a licence issued by the US, and this licence can be revoked anytime.

    Putin’s friends and colleagues grew rich, true. There are many stories in Putin’s Russia that remind of the rise of Halliburton and Vice President Cheney, of Enron and Blair’s deals. Putin encouraged his supporters to build their own wealth in order to counteract the immense strength of the oligarchs. Russia is not cleaner than its Western “partners”. She is not a corruption-ridden mafia state she is depicted by her adversaries. Capitalism is capitalism, and it is ugly enough without exaggerations.

    The British masters gave a voice to a Russian defector who said Putin is a homosexual and a paedophile. Who needs proofs for such allegations! Anyway, the Daily Mail illustrated this report with a picture of Putin kissing a small boy amid crowds, as the politicians are wont.

    The most scary instalment in the British intimidation campaign was the mockumentary The Third World War: Inside the War Room. It appears like a real news report: Russian residents in Latvia demand autonomy, as they were disenfranchised by the nationalist authorities. The government sends troops against them. Russian humanitarian convoy brings them food and medical first help. NATO decides to send reinforcements. Very soon there are nuclear bomb exchanges, and the world goes down. I must admit this film can frighten anybody, worse than Freddie Kruger did.

    It seems that much of this campaign of fear is connected with the ongoing battle for Aleppo. The US and its allies do not intend to enter the mettle, and it is a good news, but they try to scare the Russians so they will let the rebel enclave be. Meanwhile the Turks did not cross the border, though the reports say so, somewhat erroneously. A Turkish Islamic philanthropic body called IHH arranged for refugees a large camp near the border crossing, on the Syrian side. I know the IHH, and I have visited them a few years ago in connection with their humanitarian work in Gaza. This action does not amount to intervention, and hopefully it will not go any further. The Prime Minister of Turkey, Ahmed Davutoglu said that the Turks will fight for Aleppo, but probably they will not dare without Western support.

    Turkey can open a new supply line to Aleppo, this is just a technical problem. From the west, Aleppo region borders with the former Syrian province of Antakya (Antioch of old), or Liwa Iskenderun, in Arabic. The French colonial masters passed the province to Turkey in 1939. Now it is called Hatay. The rebels recognise Hatay as a part of Turkey, while the Syrian government views it as an occupied territory, like the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Theoretically, the Turks could supply the rebels via Hatay, but there are no good roads, only old country roads unsuitable for large bulk transports. And probably there is not enough time left to build a new road. Still, keep this possibility in your mind.

    A new campaign in the Western media speaks of – you guessed! – genocide the Russian bombings amount to. Cruise-missile liberals and their favourite newspaper, the Guardian, already published a few articles in the same weepy tone they used agitating for invasion of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I would like to call for ceasefire, but only after the rebels agree to lay down their arms and participate in elections. Otherwise, a ceasefire will just prolong suffering. As the first attempt to restart negotiations in Geneva ended before it actually began, the sides took a timeout until February 25. If by that time the Russian bombing and the Syrian army offensive will install some good sense into rebels’ heads, they still will be able to find a place in the parliament and in the government. And then a ceasefire will come in anyway.

    Israel kept itself a very low profile regarding the Syrian war. They hoped, as the Jewish saying goes, that the work for the righteous Jews will be done by the evil-doers like Daesh. Now this hope is being severely tried by events on the ground. And Israeli politicians began to speak loudly of what a disaster the defeat of Daesh will be for the Jewish state. The first one was Yuval Steinitz who said that loud and clear, he was followed by others. However, this information (Israel supports Daesh) has been hidden from readers of the US – and Russian media. In both great states, people are made to believe that Israel is horrified by Daesh and prays for its annihilation.

    The Russian success in Syrian war could not be achieved without President Obama’s cautious neutrality. Perhaps he deserved his Nobel Peace Prize, after all. An American president could turn this excellent Russian adventure into sheer hell, even without going to war. Let us give praise where it is due: Washington quietly allows the Russians to save Syria, despite Israeli wailing and Saudi shrieks.

    The defeat of war-mongering Mrs. Clinton in New Hampshire is the sign that the American people want peace, peace in the Middle East and peace with Russia. Now this is within the reach.

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