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Sunday, October 11

Russians destroy IS command post for entire province -- with commanders inside

Yippee! I haven't had so much fun watching Russia's air war since Tommy Franks' blitz of Saddam's Iraq.

The Syrian province is Latakia. Russian communications intercepts have picked up "growing panic" among Islamic State fighters. I should think so. In addition they picked up:
IS field commanders have urged senior staff to expedite supply armament and military equipment, as well as to redeploy reinforcements from Raqqa province as a result of Russia’s air bombardment.
Here is the RT report dated today that mentions the strike on the IS command post in Latakia but it's mostly an update on the allover status of the Russian campaign in Syria. From a Sputnik report on October 7, Syria's Ambassador to Russia said that Russian forces had already destroyed about 40 percent of Islamic State "infrastructure" in Syria and that "a lot" of terrorists had been killed. From an another RT report the 40 percent includes everything, even the IS army's stored food supplies. This is going to force the IS army to scrounge for supplies, which makes them easy targets for both ground forces and fighter planes.  

Of course this also makes them even more dangerous to any village they loot because now they're desperate and madder than a hornet.  But toss Latakia on the pile and whatever additional targets the Russians hit in the past 24 hours -- and the Russian pilots aren't stopping at nightfall. These strikes are unrelenting, 24/7, and there are very few misses.  

The Russian intelligence on the enemy positions is excellent -- and they're ratcheting it up with an impressive array of listening devices they're hauling to Syria; this, according to a report from The National Interest, an American publication. 

And according to Sputnik, the Russians are using very advanced "self-aiming" smart bombs that are relatively cheap -- cheaper than the U.S. version. These bombs are incredible. See the Sputnik report for details.  Sputnik couldn't resist passing along in the same report a Rossiyskaya Gazeta report on a helicopter-hunting land mine based on the same technology as the smart bombs. These mines could almost be classified under robotic weapons. I don't think any of the bad guys in Syria have choppers, so let's not show off too much, fellas.

Anyhow, by the end of next week we should be looking at half Islamic State in Syria wiped out or fled. 

From there I'd guess it would come down to slog work for Syrian, Iranian, and Lebanese (Hezbollah) ground troops with air support from what I hope are  Russian and American coordinated strikes. Behind all the teeth gnashing in Washington about Russia's air campaign, American commanders are working with their Russian counterparts to coordinate 'de-conflicts' and I suspect this includes cooperation with bombings. From the RT report today:
The Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, also said that the Russian and American armed forces have held a second video conference regarding the operation in Syria. The two sides discussed in detail proposals voiced at the first such event and focused on issues of air security to be ensured by both sides, since both US and Russian aircraft are currently operating in Syria’s airspace.

The date for the next consultation is to be arranged later.
Now is the most dangerous time

It's far too soon, however, to think about raising the victory flag in Syria. Last week RT mentioned a BBC report that the Saudis have made good on their threat to support the bad guys until Bashar al-Assad is gone. They're increasing their flooding of Syria with weapons.
Saudi Arabia has stepped up its weapon supplies to three different rebel groups in Syria following Russian airstrikes, a government official told the BBC. It comes after Moscow launched its Air Force anti-terror operation at the request of Assad’s government.

Rebel groups fighting the Syrian Army will receive an increase in modern, high-powered weaponry, including guided anti-tank weapons, a "well-placed" Saudi official told the BBC on condition of anonymity.
He said the recipients include Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest), the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and the Southern Front. The official stressed that Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front would not be receiving any weapons.
The official did not rule out the possibility of supplying surface-to-air missiles to the rebels, which many in the West fear would fall into the hands of ISIS militants and be used to shoot down warplanes of the US-led coalition or civilian aircraft. ...
Another Saudi official told BBC in the same report that the entry of Russian into Syria's war, coupled with Iranian and Hezbollah fighters there, could spark a "holy war."  

Could?  In the most stupid tactical move I can remember they've ever made, the Saudis are trying to whip up the Ummah into a holy war, including having Saudi clerics circulate an online petition -- news that Reuters reported on October 5.

That report was on the same day Associated Press published its bombshell report detailing that the Saudi government had under-reported the number of deaths from the Hajj stampede by about half. 

If Al Saud didn't realize before the AP report that they were skating on thin ice, they know it now. The Ummah is sick of the Saudis calling the shots on Islam
As to the Saudi call to the Free Syrian Army, what exists of it -- I saw a recent report, the link to which I've misplaced, which mentions in brief that the FSA wants to hook up with the Syrian government's army to fight Islamic State.  I also saw a report from around the same time that FSA wants to on fighting the Syrian army -- although that report might have come from the Syrian Observatory for Human  Rights, which I don't accept as a reliable source.

In any case, there is conflicting information and propaganda from both sides, but I think the takeaway is that many Syrian rebels now consider Islamic State their worst enemy.  

However, the biggest problem is Islamic State fighters who are fleeing Syria. An RT report from days ago, which I've already featured, mentioned that 3000 IS fighters had fled from Syria to Jordan to escape the Russian bombs. Whether or not the claim is true or completely true, it points to the fact that IS is and will be fleeing to points nearby as they lose ground in Syria. The Syrian Ambassador's conversation with Russian officials included this blunt accusation:

... "Now, they are retreating toward the Turkish border, as this country has traditionally provided them with protection,"
Not only protection. There are some indications the Turkish government provided the Iraqi Islamic State leaders with the seed money to launch their staging operations in Syria against Iraq. And there is ample evidence that the Turks have always kept their border wide open to Islamic State.
Dealing with that situation will not be easy for the United States or any other country because Turkey is a NATO member -- and boy, have the Turks been milking that status. They want to establish a no-fly zone ostensibly to help fleeing Syrian refugees. Any Syrians who haven't yet fled are hunkered down. The Turks want the no-fly zone in order to protect Islamic State fighters trying to flee Syria.  

The U.S. is assisting Lebanon's attempt to barricade their border with Syria against Islamic State. From an October 9 Reuters report:
The United States is providing the Lebanese army with a consignment of laser-guided artillery shells in an $8.6 million arms package intended to help Lebanon defend against cross-border incursions from Syria, the U.S. embassy said on Friday.
The package, which includes 50 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and 560 artillery rounds including the "precision munitions", will boost the Lebanese army's ability "to secure Lebanon's borders against violent extremists," it said in a statement.
Is that a good idea?  No. First of all, Lebanon's government is so cash-strapped it could well sell the weapons to the highest bidder. Second, considering that Turkey's border is open for IS, giving Lebanon border-control weapons is like searching on the lawn for keys you lost in the house because the light is better outside. Third, when the shooting dies down in Syria, I am not happy about Hezbollah having control of those weapons, and there is no question they're the ones who will get them.
However comma I can't advise making air strikes on Ankara. Not at this time. So providing weapons to Lebanon falls under the military tactic known as, "Look busy."

Same with giving more weapons to the Kurds who are making good use of them, but that doesn't solve the problem of stopping Islamic State's flight across the Turkish border.

That's where I see things standing at the moment.  


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