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    Russian military intervention and aid to Syria #10

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    Post  KoTeMoRe on Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:52 pm


    Donbass September 2014.

    50+ UA vehicles scorched.

    Not Syria.
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    Post  Guest on Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:48 am

    Russian Defense Ministry's Tu-154 carrying some 70 people has disappeared from radars after departing from Russia's southern city of Sochi, a source in the country's Emergency Ministry told.

    "According to preliminary data, Russian Defense Ministry's Tu-154 disappeared from the radar screens after departing from Sochi. About 70 people were onboard," a source said to the agency on Sunday. The priliminary data shows that the disappeared plane was heading to Syria's Latakia. The source added that the jet disappeared from radars 20 minutes after departing from Sochi. "The jet disappeared from radars about 20 minutes after takeoff"


    Source: https://sputniknews.com/russia/201612251048968566-russia-military-jet-disappears-radars/
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    Post  Guest on Sun Dec 25, 2016 6:28 am

    Militarov wrote:Russian Defense Ministry's Tu-154 carrying some 70 people has disappeared from radars after departing from Russia's southern city of Sochi, a source in the country's Emergency Ministry told.

    "According to preliminary data, Russian Defense Ministry's Tu-154 disappeared from the radar screens after departing from Sochi. About 70 people were onboard," a source said to the agency on Sunday. The priliminary data shows that the disappeared plane was heading to Syria's Latakia. The source added that the jet disappeared from radars 20 minutes after departing from Sochi. "The jet disappeared from radars about 20 minutes after takeoff"


    Source: https://sputniknews.com/russia/201612251048968566-russia-military-jet-disappears-radars/

    The plane with some 91 people onboard, including 83 passengers and eight crew members lost contact with land. Journalists, military personnel, musicians from Alexandrov Ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian armed forces, were onboard. “According to preliminary data, the missing Tu-154 arrived in Sochi from Chkalovsky airfield near Moscow for refueling. It is likely that it crashed in the mountainous area of the Krasnodar region,” another source told RIA.
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    Post  Guest on Sun Dec 25, 2016 7:11 am

    Militarov wrote:
    Militarov wrote:Russian Defense Ministry's Tu-154 carrying some 70 people has disappeared from radars after departing from Russia's southern city of Sochi, a source in the country's Emergency Ministry told.

    "According to preliminary data, Russian Defense Ministry's Tu-154 disappeared from the radar screens after departing from Sochi. About 70 people were onboard," a source said to the agency on Sunday. The priliminary data shows that the disappeared plane was heading to Syria's Latakia. The source added that the jet disappeared from radars 20 minutes after departing from Sochi. "The jet disappeared from radars about 20 minutes after takeoff"


    Source: https://sputniknews.com/russia/201612251048968566-russia-military-jet-disappears-radars/

    The plane with some 91 people onboard, including 83 passengers and eight crew members lost contact with land. Journalists, military personnel, musicians from Alexandrov Ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian armed forces, were onboard. “According to preliminary data, the missing Tu-154 arrived in Sochi from Chkalovsky airfield near Moscow for refueling. It is likely that it crashed in the mountainous area of the Krasnodar region,” another source told RIA.

    Russian local media reports, citing sources in the rescue services, that the rescue team discovered the possible crash site at the seaside of Sochi. The sources also say that the plane possibly crash during upward flight and that all the passengers and the crew unlikely to survive the crash.

    No emergency signal was received from the plane.

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    Post  Guest on Sun Dec 25, 2016 7:50 am

    "Debris from the plane has been found at a depth of 50-70 meters, 1.5 kilometers from the shore, the information department of the Russian Defense Ministry stated. No survivors have been found so far, emergency services said. “Unfortunately, during over an hour of search and rescue efforts, no emergency life rafts have been found,” Interfax cited a source as saying."

    The Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case into the Tu-154 crash, according to article 351, “Failure to comply with the rules of flight security and preparation,” TASS reports, citing Investigative Committee representative Svetlana Petrenko.
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    Post  miketheterrible on Sun Dec 25, 2016 7:56 am

    RIP to the everyone onboard. So sad especially on Christmas.
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    Post  par far on Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:07 am

    Militarov wrote:"Debris from the plane has been found at a depth of 50-70 meters, 1.5 kilometers from the shore, the information department of the Russian Defense Ministry stated. No survivors have been found so far, emergency services said. “Unfortunately, during over an hour of search and rescue efforts, no emergency life rafts have been found,” Interfax cited a source as saying."

    The Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case into the Tu-154 crash, according to article 351, “Failure to comply with the rules of flight security and preparation,” TASS reports, citing Investigative Committee representative Svetlana Petrenko.



    They need to get to the bottom of this, if the US or NATO are involved in this, than Russia needs to hit back.

    RIP to all the people on board.
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    Post  Guest on Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:54 am

    par far wrote:
    Militarov wrote:"Debris from the plane has been found at a depth of 50-70 meters, 1.5 kilometers from the shore, the information department of the Russian Defense Ministry stated. No survivors have been found so far, emergency services said. “Unfortunately, during over an hour of search and rescue efforts, no emergency life rafts have been found,” Interfax cited a source as saying."

    The Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case into the Tu-154 crash, according to article 351, “Failure to comply with the rules of flight security and preparation,” TASS reports, citing Investigative Committee representative Svetlana Petrenko.



    They need to get to the bottom of this, if the US or NATO are involved in this, than Russia needs to hit back.

    RIP to all the people on board.

    First reports seem to point towards mechanical failure, but its still early.
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    Post  Guest on Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:02 am

    Full information about bort in question: http://russianplanes.net/reginfo/2888

    It was built in 1983.
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    Post  Guest on Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:18 am

    The total of 64 Alexandrov Choir performers were on board.
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    Post  Guest on Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:27 am

    Militarov wrote:The total of 64 Alexandrov Choir performers were on board.

    List of passengers:

    Состав экипажа Ту-154 85572:

    1. м-р Волков Р.В.

    2. к-н Ровенский А.С.

    3. п/п-к Петухов А.Н.

    4. к-н Мамонов А.В.

    5. ст. л-т Парикмахеров В.Н.

    6. м-р Трегубов В.А.

    7. ст. л-т Сушков B.C.

    8. ст. л-т Суханов А.О.

    Список лиц, перевозимых на воздушном судне:
    Военнослужащие:

    1. г/л-т Халилов В.М.

    2. п-к Хасанов А.Б.

    3. п-к Ваганов А.И.

    4. п-к Иванов А.Ю.

    5. п/п-к Колосовский А.В.

    6. м-р Долинский А.И.

    7. п-к Негруб А.Н.

    8. к-н Абросимов С.С.

    Федеральные государственные гражданские служащие:

    1. Губанков А.Н.

    2. Бадрутдинова О.Т.

    Международная общественная организация "Справедливая помощь":

    1. Глинка Е.П.

    Средства массовой информации:

    1.Рунков Д.А.

    2.Денисов В.В.

    3.Сойдов А.А.

    4.Лужецкий М.В.

    5.Обухов П.К.

    6.Пестов О.М.

    7.Ржевский В.В.

    8.Суранов А.А.

    9.Толстов Е.В.

    ФБГУ "Ансамбль им. Александрова":

    1. Сонников А.В.

    2. Гужова Л.А.

    3. Ивашко А.Н.

    4. Бродский В.А.

    5. Булочников Е.В.

    6. Голиков В.В.

    7. Осипов Г.Л.

    8. Санин В.В.

    9. Майоров К.В.

    10. Буряченко Б.Б.

    11. Бобовников Д.В.

    12. Баздырев А.К.

    13. Белоножко Д.М.

    14. Бесчасинов Д.А.

    15. Васин М.А.

    16. Георгиян А.Т.

    17.Давиденко К.А.

    18.Денискин С.И.

    19.Журавлев П.В.

    20.Закиров P.P.

    21.Иванов М.А.

    22.Иванов А.В.

    23.Котляр С.А.

    24.Кочемасов А.С.

    25.Кривцов А.А.

    26.Литвяков Д.Н.

    27.Мокриков А.О.

    28.Моргунов А.А.

    29.Насибулин Ж.А.

    30.Новокшанов Ю.М.

    31.Поляков В.В.

    32.Савельев А.В.

    33.Соколовский А.В.

    34.Тарасенко А.Н.

    35.Трофимов А.С.

    36.Узловский А.А.

    37.Халимон B.JI.

    38.Штуко А.А.

    39.Крючков И.А.

    40.Ермолин В.И.

    41.Быков C.JI.

    42.Колобродов К.А.

    43.Корзанов О.В.

    44.Ларионов И.Ф.

    45.Ляшенко К.И.

    46.Михалин В.К.

    47.ст.с-т Попов В.А.

    48.Разумов А.А.

    49.Серов А.С.

    50.Шахов И.В.

    51.Арчукова А.А.

    52.Гильманова P.P.

    53.Игнатьева Н.В.

    54.Клокотова М.А.

    55.Корзанова Е.И.

    56.Пырьева Л.А.

    57.Сатарова В.И.

    58.Трофимова Д.С.

    59.Хорошова Л.Н.

    60.Цвиринько А.И.

    61.Шагун О.Ю.

    62.Гурар Л.И.

    63.Сулейманов Б.Р.

    64. Столяр И.В.
    higurashihougi
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    Post  higurashihougi on Sun Dec 25, 2016 12:17 pm

    What a staggering tragedy. My deepest condolescence to the Russian people and to the Red Army Choir.  No  No  No

    https://www.rt.com/news/371684-alexandrov-ensemble-plane-crash/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome

    64 members of world-renowned Alexandrov army band missing in Tu-154 crash (VIDEO)

    Honestly, I still hope that it is just "missing" and some may be rescued... You can say that I am crazy and illogical, but I really want to hope that some of them may survive.

    Edit:

    The body of the first victim has been found.

    https://sputniknews.com/russia/201612251048969973-first-body-tu-154/
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    Post  Godric on Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:47 pm

    higurashihougi wrote:What a staggering tragedy. My deepest condolescence to the Russian people and to the Red Army Choir.  No  No  No

    https://www.rt.com/news/371684-alexandrov-ensemble-plane-crash/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome

    64 members of world-renowned Alexandrov army band missing in Tu-154 crash (VIDEO)

    Honestly, I still hope that it is just "missing" and some may be rescued... You can say that I am crazy and illogical, but I really want to hope that some of them may survive.

    Edit:

    The body of  the first victim has been found.

    https://sputniknews.com/russia/201612251048969973-first-body-tu-154/

    i echo your sentiments ... an absolute tragedy condolences to the families of the dead crew and passengers RIP Sad Sad
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    Post  miketheterrible on Sun Dec 25, 2016 11:50 pm

    train sounds pretty expensive too.
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    Post  GarryB on Sun Dec 25, 2016 11:59 pm

    Off topic crap removed.

    this thread is about Russian military involvement and aid to Syria.

    Also please note that it is a forum rule that if you want to reply to another persons comment that you do not just quote their whole post...

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    Post  auslander on Mon Dec 26, 2016 5:32 am

    GarryB wrote:Off topic crap removed. this thread is about Russian military involvement and aid to Syria. Also please note that it is a forum rule that if you want to reply to another persons comment that you do not just quote their whole post...GarryB

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    Post  d_taddei2 on Mon Dec 26, 2016 6:37 am

    GarryB wrote:Off topic crap removed.

    this thread is about Russian military involvement and aid to Syria.

    Also please note that it is a forum rule that if you want to reply to another persons comment that you do not just quote their whole post...

    GarryB

    thanks Garry, don't get me wrong i know that it was a terrible thing that happen to the passengers on the flight, but to then turn it into a debate on reliability of Russian aircraft Vs western aircraft is pretty bad, but anyway now on to some good news Very Happy

    -------Hundreds of rebels lay down their arms in Dara’a Syria - Contrary to media reports claiming that over 500 Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters dropped down their arms and reconciled with the Syrian government, the figure is closer to 150.
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/hundreds-rebels-lay-arms-daraa/

    --------Syrian Army gives jihadists 72 hours to surrender in southwestern Aleppo. Following their failure to maintain the eastern pocket of Aleppo City, the jihadist rebels of Jaysh Al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) were given 72 hours to surrender the Rashiddeen 4 and 5 suburbs by the Syrian Arab Army's High Command.
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-gives-jihadists-72-hours-surrender-southwestern-aleppo/

    ---------ISIS unable to advance in Deir Ezzor despite relentless assaults. Clashes lasted for about four hours before they subsided when the terrorist group retreated after suffering heavy casualties that included the destruction of one heavy vehicle and several 23mm gun cars. On the other hand, the Syrian Army lost three soldiers whilst repelling the fierce assault.
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/field-report-isis-unable-advance-deir-ezzor-despite-relentless-assaults/

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    Post  Vann7 on Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:02 pm

    par far wrote:
    Militarov wrote:The Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case into the Tu-154 crash, according to article 351, “Failure to comply with the rules of flight security and preparation,” TASS reports, citing Investigative Committee representative Svetlana Petrenko.

    They need to get to the bottom of this, if the US or NATO are involved in this, than Russia needs to hit back.

    RIP to all the people on board.


    There was apparently no calls for emergency or any problems with the plane at any time ,which is the most unusual thing. When a plane experience problems with anything the call radio for help.So it went down without notice ,so either it was a catastrophic failure in the electrical system ,perhaps consequence of the poor quality controls and system supervision that Russia 
    have experienced even in their most prestigious projects like Proton Rocket.

    Or it was a Bomb inside that blew off of the pilot cabin. Deployed by the same crew in charge of refueling the plane. The plane landed in sochi a civilian port for refueling and any religious fanatic angry with the Liberation of Aleppo and working for western intelligence agencies could have deployed a bomb to disable the plane. Whatever it was , nothing will surprise me that in the end ,whether it was a mechanical failure or terrorism , in the end it all goes to the same issues that plague Russia ,on its poor quality controls and supervision. This accident will have not happened if that plane was properly supervised its operational status .and inspected correctly before being used today.  The Russian government official theories is mechanical problem or pilot error.  Since it had 2 pilots like all planes usually have and they were very experienced according to Russian media ,and there was no calls by radio about any issue ,then it have to be a big plane malfunctioning electronics hardware or a big bomb inside..

    Mechanical Problem = Poor quality controls or poor supervision or both.

    If it was terrorism.. is again the same , poor security controls.. poor supervision. 

    If it was an external attack by NATO using a new secret gun deployed in a warship in the black sea or in Georgia,like an electronic cannon to disable the plane or laser gun attack , then again is a problem of poor security controls ,poor supervision. Same if it was a bomb inside ,this later is the most likely reason for the accident ,after the plane accident in egypt that neither communicated any problem.

    Whatever it was ,we all can agree planes do not fall for nothing . They either fall for mechanical failure or because weather or pilot mistakes or because terrorism. Since they do not warned by radio about any problems,and since weather was very good for flying ,and since pilots very experienced ,then this only give us two options ,either mechanical failure or terrorism ,which points to a major incompetence in the management about quality controls or security controls or both.  But if it was terrorism.. don't expect the Russian government any time to admit it was ,to avoid the major embarrassment for its poor security and invite more attacks or its already very discredited for its so many accidents military aviation industry.
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    Post  BKP on Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:44 pm

    Mass graves of torture victims have been uncovered in liberated Aleppo, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Monday

    "Konashenkov said that the instances are being recorded as serious war crimes and will be given maximum publicity "so that European backers of the so-called opposition in London and Paris are well aware of who their wards actually are." 

    Read more: https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201612261049002236-aleppo-mass-burials/

    More of Konashenkov's statement, from RT:

    “The completion of a uniquely large-scale humanitarian operation by the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Aleppo will destroy many of the myths that have been fed to the world by Western politicians,” Konashenkov said in a statement. “The results of only an initial survey of Aleppo neighborhoods abandoned by the so-called ‘opposition’ will shock many.”

    Sounds like it could be pretty bad. If so, I hope they really rub the noses of Washington, London and Paris in this, as was done to Nazi collaborators at the end of WW2, especially that bitch Powers. They really should well document and publicize this.
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    Post  BKP on Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:16 pm

    d_taddei2 wrote:
    thanks Garry, don't get me wrong i know that it was a terrible thing that happen to the passengers on the flight, but to then turn it into a debate on reliability of Russian aircraft Vs western aircraft is pretty bad, but anyway now on to some good news  Very Happy

    As a party to that little debate, I want to make sure it's understood that I myself had and have no solid opinion on the inherent reliability of Russian-made passenger aircraft, and made no statement of the kind.
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    Post  calm on Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:29 pm

    @sputnik_ar: #RuGF sappers with BTR-82A in #Aleppo, removing Mortars & DIY Rockets.

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    Post  KiloGolf on Mon Dec 26, 2016 7:02 pm

    Russian military intervention and aid to Syria #10 - Page 35 C0mAza6WQAAyoe_
    Yusha Yuseef ‏@MIG29_ 8h
    Russian SPARTA II - Ro-Ro Cargo Ship to Tartous Port
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    Post  JohninMK on Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:09 pm

    Wonder what RO-RO'd onto the lower deck as opposed to craned onto the upper deck?
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    Post  KoTeMoRe on Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:26 pm

    4000 ton useful shipment. Prime suspect for heavy lift. Still not more than 24/5 tanks.
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    Post  calm on Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:06 am

    let's put this here to
    How Putin handled the Su-24 shootdown is a masterclass in diplomacy. Read how Erdogan had to adapt:


    Regional and international balance in the Levant (1): Turkish shifts in the Syrian war
    https://elijahjm.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/regional-and-international-balance-in-the-levant-1-turkish-shifts-in-the-syrian-war/
    As the end of 2016 approaches, the Syrian war is coming close to its sixth year, leaving about half a million combatants and civilians killed, more than that number wounded, and millions of displaced people inside and outside the country. The infrastructure, housing and business damage exceeds 250 billion dollars. In addition Syria almost set off the third world war, between the United States of America and Russia.

    The Syrian war spawned such terrorist organisations as the “Islamic State” (ISIS/Daesh) and the al-Qaeda franchise (Jabhat al-Nusra, aka Fatah al-Sham). Many rebel factions emerged and several small groups merged with other more powerful ones. Other rebel organisations were taken out of the Syrian arena despite the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in training and weapons in the hope of changing the Syrian regime.

    From Syria, terrorism spread outside its borders striking Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and other countries in the region and much further afield, setting off serious alarm bells and increasing counter-terrorism budgets throughout the world.

    Human beings in Syria faced humiliation and killing in the name of religion and doctrine. The mainstream media seriously contributed to fuelling sectarian strife by reporting news away from the field, quoting anti-government sectarian activists, and projecting the war in Syria as one between the Alawite minority and the Sunni majority. The war is far from being exclusively between religious belligerents. The majority of the Syrian Army is Sunni, fighting for the survival of the government infrastructure and unity of the country, against Jihadists whose creed rejects democracy, all non Muslim-Sunni, and non religious government. International media reputation was seriously damaged, losing credibility due to this poor and biased coverage of the Syrian war.

    Players change as well as their role and the consequences of their input: Syria moved from certain partition to another more stable situation that will be more easily defined as the coming year, 2017, evolves.


    The Turkish role:

    This role was and still is the most influential in the Syrian war over jihadists and rebels. Turkey’s intervention was important and decisive for the fate of Syria politically and on the battlefield, forming different alliances where yesterday’s enemies are today now tolerated.

    Turkey’s intervention in the Syrian war began five and a half years ago. The goal of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not limited to the removal of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, but included the annexation of a “security belt” (safe zone) along the northern border. He went even further in his plans, preparing the ground to seize the city of Aleppo, a city that remained outside what was falsely called the “Syrian spring” for over a year after the beginning of the unrest in Syria. The city was enjoying the economic-political power it represented, the Sunni influence in Syria being represented in the cities of Aleppo and Damascus.

    This Turkish intervention came with the impact of Western countries’ push to dislodge Assad, for various reasons: the US extended its influence through former President George W. Bush, following the invasion of Iraq. Syria was next on the list to produce a “new Middle East”; the Qatar gas project that was supposed to go through Syria into Europe with the aim of weakening the Russian economy, at present a major gas supplier to Europe; the role of Assad in the “axis of resistance” and his support for organisations Washington considers terrorist groups (Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad); Syria’s support for Iran standing in the way of an Arab – Israeli rapprochement. All of these influences were present behind the “Arab Spring,” putting Syria into a real “Arab tsunami” without apparently creating major benefits.

    Since the first days of the war in Syria, Turkey has opened its borders to anyone who wanted to join the war. Many foreigners (European and non European) travelled to Syria, via Turkey, to join jihadist organisations, later known as the “Islamic state” (ISIS/Daesh) and the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra, aka Fateh al-Sham).These people travelled with the knowledge and, for the most part, the approval of Western countries (France, US, Britain …). Many of those same fighters returned later to their respective countries, representing a real threat to their societies, but above all to Turkey itself because fighters were also asked to establish themselves in that country to form a (radical) society. In fact, ISIS asked many of these foreign fighters to stop in Turkey and form a family and a society where they might be needed one day to serve “the Islamic nation”, establishing a nucleus for the future.

    The “free world” predicted the fall of Assad in 3 months…6months…1 year… The situation became gloomy after that date. The fall of Assad was no longer predictable. In the first years of the war, the Syrian army resisted despite the large splits within its ranks, to become cornered in few cities in 2013. This is when Assad called on his allies for help. The French intelligence chief and his British intelligence counterpart both said “the map of the Middle East will never be the same again”. In the light of today, both clearly failed in the extent of their prediction, confirming that many politicians, intelligence officers, analysts and media also failed in their assessment because they were expressing wishful thinking rather than facts. This is exactly what happened to President Erdogan, who believed the partition of Syria was at hand.

    Erdogan therefore allowed ISIS to spill over inside the country, permitting commercial exchanges, especially oil, and opening the arms supply road to the Jihadists of al-Qaeda as well. That was considered a temporary procedure because “Assad was supposed to step-down in few months”.

    As time was going by and the Syrian government was still holding up, Turkey built strong alliances with Syrian groups like Ahrar al-Sham (15-20,000 fighters), Nur ad-DinZengi (3,000 fighters), Sultan Murad (2,000 fighters) and others who were (years later) recalled to form the ” Euphrates shield” and fight under direct Turkish forces’ command in Syria. These same groups established good relations with both the moderate and jihadist groups in Syria.

    Turkey contributed effectively to the fall of the city of Kessab in rural Lattakia by allowing jihadists to use its territory to cross into Syria and to control the hills surrounding the north-west Syrian province. Moreover, Turkey played an essential role in arming and offering logistics and intelligence for jihadists and rebels to occupy the city of Idlib and Jisr al-Shoughour. Everything was going as Turkey planned until Assad called Iran and its allies for help.

    Ankara has supported the control which the jihadists and the opposition exerted over large parts of Aleppo. It played an active role, enabling Iran to enter the battle line with its allies. The presence of Iran tipped the scales in favour of President Assad, but not enough to counter the continuous Turkish regional support, sustained by the United States and the countries of the region (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). Despite significant gains made in Damascus and Qalmoun and other areas, the regime and its allies decided to retreat within the major towns to protect the cities themselves.

    Here Russia intervened to spoil the plans of everyone willing to divide Syria, and change the map of their projects and their wishes. It rebalanced the battlefield imposing the initial solution which required everyone to sit down at the negotiating table and recognize the role of al-Assad, who had been sidelined. But Turkey’s shooting down of the Sukhoi 24 in Novembre 2015 changed the whole Syrian game. The partition of Syria was no longer an option and Russia showed thatkeeping a balance among the various players was not its concern. The event marked a turning point in the history of the Syrian war: Russia deployed more forces, advanced anti-air missiles and threw its military weight in the battle field offering the possibility of a victory for President Assad.

    A second turning point in the Syrian war took place when President Erdogan suffered a failed coup d’état. Intelligence support provided by Moscow through Iran contributed in warning the Turkish president in time for him to adopt security measures, counter the coup and remain alive. Erdogan implicitly accused the US of being behind the coup and turned his political energies towards Russia.

    The Turkish – Russian – Iranian understanding over Syria isolated the present US administration and marginalised it (at least until the new US administration takes control). This consensus among the three countries has allowed the return of Aleppo to the control of the Syrian government. It has also prevented the partition of northern Syria and a large US sphere of influence among the Kurdish controlled area extending from al-Hasaka to Afrin.

    Russia blessed the involvement of Turkey on the battlefield: Turkish forces and their allies took control of Jarablus, Dabiq and reached the gates of the city of al-Bab. This is when Russia stopped Erdogan again due to the lack of coordination of the presence of anti-government forces (Turkey proxies) facing the Syrian Army at the limits of Aleppo. This would be critical in the event of al-Bab falling to Ankara’s control. Turkish forces were bombed a few kilometres from al-Bab, sending a strong message and drawing the line of what would be the limit of deployment of forces. Again, Turkey understood the message and called for an immediate meeting with Russia and Iran to coordinate further steps.

    An important meeting was held between the Foreign and Defence ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Moscow to map out the strategy and distribute/co-ordinate tasks through to 2017 in Syria. This meeting excluded the US and Europe. The exit of militants from Aleppo and the advance of theTurkish troops (with their proxies under “the Euphrates Shield”) to al-Bab were the first visible results of the meeting.

    he ISIS brutality of burning two captured Turkish soldiers in its custody removed President Erdogan’s option of going back to support the terrorist group. On the contrary, the elimination of this organisation has now become one of Turkey’s priorities. However, the harmony between Russia -Turkey – Iran, if continued at this rhythm, will not aim to destroy ISIS as a priority compared to the other jihadist groups operating within the collection of Syrian rebels.

    Turkey has abandoned Aleppo and contributed to the defeat of the militants and jihadists. Despite Ankara’s long record of support to al-Qaeda (Nusra, aka Fatah al-Sham), the relationship can now no longer be the same. Indeed, Al-Qaeda has refused to bow to Erdogan on many occasions even though its military, security, medical and logistic support comes via the Syrian-Turkish borders.

    Turkey announced that al-Qaeda in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra) is on its list of terrorist groups. But this decision was never implemented: on the contrary, Ankara effectively contributed to the formation of “Jaish al-Fath” where al-Qaeda and Turkey’s allies (and other groups) were included under one umbrella.

    However, al-Qaida stood up to Turkey when it announced its rejection of a safe zone on the borders “because it is not in the interests of the Jihad,” and pulled out its jihadists from the northern part of Syria, leaving Turkish allies to face ISIS on their own. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when al-Qaida announced the prohibition of asking for Turkish Army support and therefore condemned any group participating in the “Euphrates Shield”.

    The Turkish-backed factions will never accept a merger with al-Qaeda because in Syria this organisation is expected to be targeted in the coming months.

    This was also clearly announced and approved by Turkey during the Moscow meeting with Russia and Iran.

    Turkey now is one of the main players in the Syrian arena. Its forces are deployed on the battlefield to contribute to changing the rules of the game and the pattern of alliances. Ankara’s soldiers are in the Syrian quagmire (fighting ISIS in al-Bab to start with), losing more men in one week than Russia has lost in 18 months. President Erdogan can no longer pull out of his involvement to collect the result after the war. Therefore, a peaceful settlement will not include those jihadist groups unwilling to merge with more moderate (even Islamist) groups. In Syria, there can’t be a place for al-Qaeda foreign fighters, neither ISIS nor the ones unwilling to bow to a peace process to stop the war.

    Therefore, serious differences and infighting are expected to arise between the various factions located at the northern city of Idlib in the process which should pave the way for a political settlement and spare Idlib a bloody theatre-style destructive climax similar to that which flattened the city of Aleppo.

    So Turkey remains one of the most important players, aware that any alliance with the actual US administration (under Obama) over Syria will have an aborted outcome, whereas the alliance with Russia has allowed Ankara to remain in Syria. The Syrian President will have to negotiate with Ankara and take into consideration its interests, the day the Syrian war comes to an end.

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    Regional and international balance in the Levant (2): Russia’s role in the Syrian war and the tactical differences with Iran

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