Syraq SITREP 22: Iranian Missile Factory in Syria and SAA Cauldrons for Daesh En Route to Freeing Deir Ez Zor

Russian and Iranian Support Creates a New, More Hezbollah-Like SAA

As London Paul stated in this week's interview with Dave of the X22 Report, there is quiet cooperation underway between the Americans and Russians in Syria. Moscow has -- for now -- conceded a de facto American protectorate over the SDF Kurds in northeastern Syria, even as the NATO member Turks continue to shift away from Washington due to such support. In the west and northwestern Syria, the Turkish Army is concentrating its efforts in Idlib province, where jihadists losing support from outside powers are turning on each other. The infighting in Idlib recently claimed the lives of several White Helmets activists, most likely murdered by the Al-Qaeda franchisees of HTS with whom they used to pose on camera.

In the southeast of the country, the Americans quietly pulled out of their outpost near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders at al-Tanf in recent weeks. This decision was consistent with President Trump's cancellation of the Central Intelligence Agency's programs supporting 'moderate' Sunni Syrian rebels against the Assad government, that had in fact acted as conduits via 'black market sales' or surrenders on the battlefield for TOW missiles and other NATO arms to 'leak' into the hands of Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Washington's Plans for a Long Term Occupation, Er Presence in Northeastern Syria

While these moves demonstrate a willingness of the Pentagon to cooperate, or rather an acknowledgement by the U.S. military command and Commander and Chief alike that they're doomed to cooperation with the Russians in Syria, there is a big caveat. Since the acrimonious split between the erstwhile supporters of the Syria war Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the SDF Kurds have started cozying up to Riyadh and this week, announced that they expect American troops to stay in their areas for 'decades'. Clearly such a long term presence cannot be justified by 'fighting ISIS' after Daesh remaining pockets are crushed this year and is therefore competely contrary to international law -- regardless of what arrangements for regional autonomy the Kurds strike up with Damascus. Nor can there be any illusions about Raqqa, as an Arab and hardly Kurdish city, being ruled by Kurds for the long term.

Thus the use of Daesh as a 'skeleton key' to get American troops permanently stationed inside Syria has been exposed, but whether the U.S. presence will be sustainable in the long term given the hostility of Turkey and Iran to it is a question few American journalists are asking. Veteran Mideast correspondent Elijah J. Magnier, for his part, recognizes that the remaining key figures in the Trump Administration like Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster have their eyes firmly fixed on 'containing' the biggest Mideast victors from the Syria War: Iran and Hezbollah:

Washington and Tel Aviv's Fear of Iran and Hezbollah Emerging Stronger Than Ever After Being Bloodied in the Syria War

The United States has not been able to swallow the Islamic Republic of Iran’s victory, prevailing on the Syrian and Iraqi arenas where the war is shortly going to end- sooner rather than later. On these military stages, today, there is no longer any horizon for extremist groups, witness the defeat of “Islamic State” (ISIS) its territory shrinking to less than a quarter of what it was in 2014. Moreover, Al-Qaeda in Syria (Nusra or Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) is preparing itself for limited options in Idlib: either its fate is to dissolve itself, bow to absolute Turkish control- or fight to the death.

No one is talking about the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad or the regime change in Syria anymore; all players (in the region, as well as the EU and the US) have bowed to the almost total Russian domination of the Levant and the victory of the Iraqi government over ISIS. The “project” of splitting Mesopotamia ended in the bin of history: even the Kurds in Kurdistan are seriously thinking of postponing or freezing the “referendum on independence”, expected on September 25. If not, Erbil knows already it is alone in this wrongly-timed project.

Thus, with the victory of the governments of Baghdad and Damascus, Russia and Iran’s allies; with the defeat of the Daeshi-Takfiri project; with the growing capabilities and expertise of Hezbollah in Syria and on more than one front in the Middle East (Iraq and Yemen)- Iran comes out a clear winner: its financial investment in Syria was huge, mainly to support the military campaign and the Syrian Army and institutions. Tehran can therefore no longer be ignored in any negotiation talks – the entire map of the Middle East bears testimony.

However, despite the US occupation of a geographical location in the Syrian northeast (al-Hasaka and Raqqah provinces) and the absence of a strategic horizon for this military presence along with the Syrian Kurdish forces and a few local tribes, this result is a considerable downgrade for America and its allies in the Middle East who invested massively in order to topple the Syrian government.

It therefore became necessary to turn the tables and to discredit Iran by implementing more sanctions, by attacking the nuclear deal – including Washington’s allies on the old European continent – and by accusing Tehran of “breaking the spirit of the nuclear agreement” so as to “justify” the imposition of further economic sanctions under various headings and excuses- these are expected to increase in the coming months.
— https://elijahjm.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/trump-avenges-irans-victory-in-syria-and-iraq-and-rohani-responds/
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The role of Iran and Iranian-backed Hezbollah in the SAA's successes cannot be underestimated, even as the ability to conduct air-mobile ops and trap thousands of Daeshbags in a large 'cauldron' bears the signature of the Russian high command. Daesh terrorists sought to lift their morale via raids against IRGC and Iraqi Shia militia positions in the Syraq border region. Daesh released a propaganda video depicting a captured and later beheaded IRGC soldier. However such 'victories', much like ISIS propaganda vastly exaggerating the number of pro-government forces it has killed in the Philippines or its successes against the Houthis in Yemen, are laden with falsehoods. Such ISIS agitprop is interesting however, from the perspective of the once mighty super terrorist army concentrating on the regional enemies of its not so hidden sponsor Saudi Arabia.

The Growing Competency of the Airmobile SAA

What's clear is that the Syrian Arab Army, in the course of reinventing itself under fire after its formidable on paper conventional forces nearly broke under heavy casualties, has learned a great deal from Hezbollah. After being organized for decades as a classic Soviet modeled tank and artillery force, the SAA now boasts a more tactically flexible and drone-equipped mixture of armor, mortar and rocket launcher teams with light truck 'technicals' and Russian-made Tiger infantry vehicles for desert warfare. After being devastated by U.S. made TOW missiles in the hands of (al)CIA(eda) like the boy beheaders of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki group, the SAA developed with Russian engineers assistance infrared jammers capable of dazzling all but the latest TOW variants. Like snipers stepping up their game to hunt and kill other snipers, SAA's own and Hezbollah's Kornet and Toophan (Iranian knockoff of the TOW) anti-tank missile teams also became deadlier.

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Southfront has an excellent video we've posted below summarizing these changes, which came in response to ISIS use of hit and run tactics concentrating on the SAA's vulnerable logistics rather than fighting against artillery and airpower head on in the open desert of Homs province. A not so hidden force multiplier for the SAA of course, being Russian aircraft with ground surveilling radar capable of picking up the movement of ISIS technicals and small convoys and tracking their drives to small bunkers in the middle of the desert where the terrorists would rest or refit.

Such qualitative improvements as well as boosting SAA manpower via training fresh cadres, recruiting former rebels and tribal allies, and bringing in IRGC and Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia infantry were necessary to rout Daesh across a large and sparsely populated desert region. Now with the liberation of Suknah and the large cauldrons in the desert, the road to lifting the three year old plus ISIS siege of Deir Ez Zor is open. The long-suffering Euphrates valley city where the SAA and National Defense Forces have stubbornly resisted attackers now has hope of being fully liberated within weeks, not months or years.

Summarizing the success of the SAA's offensive carried out using Russian made Mi-8 choppers and with Russian  Air Force Ka-52 Alligator gunships in support, retired Army Col. and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst Pat Lang wrote:

The SAA, with Russian assistance, will become a motivated, well trained and equipped force capable of daring and imaginative combined arms operations. It will be regularly train with Iranian and Hezbollah units and will be a great source of ulcers among the Israeli Defense Force. When the Syrian Air Force eventually reaches maturity, those Israeli ulcers will bleed without stop. The political geography of the Mideast is about to change.
— http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/08/major-cauldrons-forming-in-central-syria-ttg.html

A Looming Autumn War Between Israel and Hezbollah?

Will there be a repeat of the 2006 Israel Hezbollah war, only a far bloodier engagement than that time for the Israeli Defense Forces? We aren't certain, but Team Rogue Money's mentor W the Intelligence Insider has been hearing from his Mideast contacts that many of them are worried about it. And Hezbollah's public propaganda available on social media has certainly been dropping stronger hints of late about the paramilitary and political group being ready to fight Israel (jihadis don't have airpower) with new capabilities:

Elijah J. Magnier Tweet of Hezbollah's Propaganda Leaflets Telling Israel They're Ready (Below is a Music Video with English Subtitles of Lebanese Christian Singer Julia Boutros):