Monthly Archives: October 2015

WW4/Middle East Files: US, Russian showdown in Syria comes into sharper focus as Moscow reacts to White House announcement re. deployment of 50 US mil advisers to N. Syria to aid Arabs, Kurds fighting ISIS; FM Lavrov: “I am not sure that neither the United States nor Russia want [the conflict] to become a so-called proxy war”; Kosachev, head of Duma’s foreign affairs cmte: “Any operations – air based operations, ground based operations – in Syria by American forces will be illegal”; previous reports over past month reveal Kremlin’s deployment of Spetsnaz units to Syria, super-secret Zaslon unit lately redeployed from SE Ukraine, likely tasked with flushing out “terrorists” (i.e., US-backed rebels) ahead of airstrikes, VIP security (Assad?), assassinations, hostage rescues, etc.; NATO’s top cmdr, US Gen. Breedlove, reminds West of Russian strategy: “Folks have taken their eye off of Ukraine . . . . because of what’s happening in Syria. It’s technique they’ve employed in the past, a couple of times. Invade Crimea. Take the world’s eyes off of Crimea by invading Donbas. Take the world’s eyes off of Donbas by getting involved in Syria. This is part of a larger construct by Russia and we need to be thinking holistically about our response . . . these are connected”

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WW4/Middle East Files: Syrian army launches missile barrage against rebel-held district of Damascus, kills 40 civilians, US-backed Syrian National Council blames Russian airstrikes on Douma “massacre,” alleging as many as 55 noncombatants perished; meanwhile, Iran for first time joins peace/transition talks in Vienna, summit also includes diplomats from UN, Russia, USA, UK, France, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt; Iran no longer able to hide war dead in Syria, state media admits generals, more than 400 “volunteers” from Iran, including Afghan refugees, have died in Syria; US DIA confirms since 2013 Iran has lost 8 sr. cmdrs. in Syria, including at least 6 generals, chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Dunford estimates Iran has less than 2,000 troops in Syria, 1,000 in Iraq; Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, dep. cmdr. of IRGC, responds to losses, reveals “Iran is increasing the quality and quantity of its presence in Syria”; London’s Sharq al Awsat newspaper: Hezbollah casualties in Syria top 1,280, Lebanese analyst: “Hezbollah’s losses in Syria exceeded expectations … and its elite Al-Radwan battalion has been greatly exhausted to the extent of disintegration after the loss of its commanders and professional fighters in the Zabadani battle” (July 3 -Sept. 24, 2015)

Communist Bloc Military Updates: USS Ronald Reagan scrambles fighter jets to intercept approaching Russian Tu-145 ASW planes over Sea of Japan on Oct. 27, aircraft carrier carrying out exercise with S. Korean warships amid tensions with Moscow over Syrian crisis, Pentagon soothes: “There was nothing to indicate they were posing a direct threat”; Russian Navy holds “repel strikes” in Crimea, practices thwarting invasion of occupied Ukrainian region, drill includes guided missile hovercraft, Su-24 attack bombers, cruise missile launch; Washington worried by Russian subs lurking near underwater data cables, including N. Sea, near shores of NE Asia, CONUS, no evidence of cable cutting yet but US mil, intel officials “monitoring significantly increased Russian activity along the known routes of the cables”; Rear Adm. Roegge, cmdr of US Navy’s sub fleet in Pacific: “I’m worried every day about what the Russians may be doing,” sr. Euro diplomat: “The level of activity is comparable to what we saw in the Cold War”; Tokyo outraged by construction of Russian mil base on S. Kurils, Soviets seized islands at end of WW2, expelled Japanese residents, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary: “[We] . . . will strongly protest it. We are unchanged in our stance that the islands are Japanese sovereign territories”

WW4/Middle East Files: ISIS consolidates hold on countryside around Syria’s largest city, chokes supply line to Assad’s troops in Aleppo by seizing 19 checkpoints, blocking Aleppo-Hama highway, also killing 20 fighters of pro-Assad Liwaa al-Quds Palestinian refugee group, prices of fuel, food in regime-held parts of Aleppo soar; meanwhile, Russian warplanes hit record 118 rebel targets throughout Syria over 24 hours, pound ISIS, Nusra Front positions in Israel-occupied Golan Heights, Iranian state media gloats: “Russian . . . attacks have an important message for Israel while Tel Aviv is trying to pretend that it has reached an agreement with Moscow on Syria’s southern skies”; Russia redeploys special forces from Donbass to Syria (where Spetsnaz have already been sighted), dissident Syrian media quotes rebel cmdr: “The special forces were pulled out of Ukraine and sent to Syria in a bid to coordinate with Iranian military advisers against rebels”; Def. Sec. Carter suggest US ground troops coming to Syria: “We won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground”; Russian lawmakers have “Damascus road conversion” after meeting Syrian dictator, Communist Duma deputy Yushchenko: “He [Assad] is ready to conduct elections with the participation of all political forces who want Syria to prosper”; follows Assad’s surprise Oct. 20 visit to Moscow, tete-a-tete with Putin, Oct. 23 Vienna conference between US State Sec. Kerry, Russian FM Lavrov

WW4/Middle East Files: Algeria shows “gesture of friendship towards Syria and Russia,” “discreetly” airlifts Polisario Front militiamen from Tindouf to Havana via Algiers, Cuba gives SADR insurgents “accelerated military training based on guerrilla techniques,” Russia flies Polisario militiamen aboard mil aircraft to Syria to fight “under the banner of Cuban troops [themselves] fighting alongside loyalists to President Bashar Al-Assad”; even as Damascus/ Latakia reiterates Havana’s denials concerning reported presence of Cuban special forces in Syria; meanwhile, ISIS advances in E. part of Aleppo prov., seizes “several key positions” near al-Sufeira, assumes control of mil bases in Tel Aran after “fierce clashes” with army, employs car bombs to wrest Khanasser-Othreya highway S. of Aleppo city from pro-regime forces, severs supply line to Assad’s troops in Syria’s largest city; Kremlin says Russian Air Force flew 164 sorties against ISIS, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front over past 72 hours, hitting nearly 300 rebel targets in 6 provs., including Damascus; Russia out-maneuvers USA on issue of destroying ISIS in Iraq as Baghdad authorizes Moscow to launch airstrikes against “Daesh” convoys, follows Oct. 22 airstrike in which Russian warplanes destroyed bridge ISIS using to transport supplies into Syria from Iraq; chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff meets Iraqi PM, DM on Oct. 20, Dunford delivers démarche: “I said it would make it very difficult for us to be able to provide the kind of support you need if the Russians were here conducting operations as well”

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Nothing to see here folks . . . just a little revitalization of Cold War-era friendships in support of Assad, i.e., Russia, Iran, Cuba, Algeria, Hezbollah, Polisario Front, etc. and now Iraq is being drawn into this unholy alliance.

Even though Washington, Havana and Damascus/Latakia have all denied the presence of Cuban troops in Syria, the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies stood by its initial report, which was picked up by some outlets in the MSM and social media. This new report, which originates with Sahara News, which is based in Laayoune in Morocco-occupied Western Sahara, not only asserts that Polisario Front militiamen are fighting for Assad, but corroborates the earlier ICCAS report that Raul Castro has deployed special forces to Syria. However, if Russian military aircraft are shipping both Cuban and Polisario Front troops into Syria from Cuba, then this must be a highly secretive operation, which is probably why the MSM for the most part is not touching the story with a 10-foot pole.

WW4/Middle East Files: Pentagon deploys at least 6 A-10 Thunderbolts at Incirlik, bolsters West’s anti-ISIS air war, USAF F-16s conducting bombing runs over Syria from Turkish air base since Aug.; NATO launches biggest exercise in more than a decade, 36,000 troops from 30 member states to hold drills over next 3 weeks, Dep. Sec. Gen. Vershbow : “We are very concerned about the Russian military build-up. The increasing concentration of forces in Kaliningrad, the Black Sea and now in the eastern Mediterranean . . .”; Oct. 23 summit in Vienna to resolve Syrian crisis off to bad start after USA, Turkey condemn Putin’s “red carpet welcome” for Assad, Turkish PM remarks: “If only he could stay in Moscow longer, to give the people of Syria some relief; in fact he should stay there so the transition can begin”; meanwhile, Qatar threatens to invade Syria in cooperation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia “to protect the Syrian people from the brutality of the regime,” Syrian dep. FM retorts angrily: “If Qatar carries out its threat to militarily intervene in Syria, then we will consider this a direct aggression … Our response will be very harsh”

WW4/Middle East/End Times Files: Assad makes surprise visit to Moscow on Oct. 20, thanks Putin for military intervention, discusses coordinated action against rebels as Syrian army, Iranian troops, Hezbollah guerrillas, Russian Air Force prosecute offensive against rebel-held districts of Aleppo; sr. analyst at Carnegie Middle East Center: “The Russian move has allowed the regime to go on the offensive and made some limited gains possible, but it hasn’t turned the tide in terms of winning the war”; video from Russian UAV reveals shocking devastation in Jobar after Syrian warplanes, tanks pound rebel-held suburb of Damascus, hotly contested district in one of world’s oldest cities now described as “highway to hell” (see Isaiah 17:1-3); Turkish president accuses Syria’s Mukhabarat of masterminding Oct. 10 suicide bombings that killed nearly 100 peace activists in Ankara, alleges Assad’s henchmen collaborated with well-known terrorist orgs, Erdogan: “This was a collective terrorist action. ISIL [i.e., ISIS], the PKK, al-Mukhabarat and the PYD . . . in N. Syria, were involved in it. All of them jointly planned this action”; unclear which Mukhabarat Erdogan fingering since 3 Syrian agencies sport this name in their title, e.g., Military, Air Force and General Intelligence Directorates

USSR2/Middle East Files: France sells Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Egypt for €950 million after Russia deal falls through in wake of Ukraine invasion, never-deployed warships to be delivered to Egyptian Navy (world’s 7th most powerful) in March-April 2016; HOWEVER Kremlin-run Russian Helicopters cuts US$1 billion deal with new/old “strategic partner” Egypt to equip Mistrals with Kamov Ka-52K combat helos, Russian-designed flight guidance system for “Alligators” to remain on board; French PM Valls in Cairo to sign Mistral deal with General/President Sisi on Oct. 10, follows previous deals to purchase 24 French-built Dassault Rafale fighter jets, Hammer air-to-ground missiles for Egyptian Air Force, 4 Gowind corvettes for Egyptian Navy; Sisi paid state visit to Russia (Sochi) in Aug. 2014, after Putin’s forces grabbed Crimea, Putin returned favor by showing up in Egypt in Feb. 2015 to promote economic, military coop, Russian, Egyptian navies held 8-day joint drill off Alexandria in June, Reuters: “Putin has been cultivating ties with Egypt, a Soviet ally for much of the Cold War and traditional export market for Russian arms”

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The French-Egypt Mistral warship deal is fishy (pun intended). Although the Egyptian Navy is the seventh most powerful in the world and the most powerful in Africa and the Middle East, it’s hard to understand why the quasi-military regime in Cairo would want these vessels, which aren’t cheap, unless it intends to attack its neighbors, like Israel, with which it is technically at peace.

On the other hand, we must consider another angle. Is it possible the Kremlin is using new/old strategic partner Egypt to surreptitiously prepare the Mistral warships for the Russian Navy after all, and then use them to launch an amphibious assault on Syria in support of the embattled Assad regime? The Egyptian Navy HQ at Alexandria isn’t located too far away from Russia’s naval maintenance base in Tartus, Syria.

The scheduled arrival of the Mistrals in Egypt next spring bears scrutiny, especially if the Ba’athist regime in Latakia/Damascus is still clinging to power and in need of still more Russian military intervention. The Kremlin has already used the Russian Navy (from the Caspian Sea) to attack Syrian rebels and indicated that it will use its Mediterranean task force do so as well.

Perhaps Sisi will suddently discover that he’s bit off more than he can chew with this large expenditure and offer to resell the Mistrals to Russia (if the fine print with Paris permits). We must remember, too, that the neo-Leninists in Moscow are masters of maskirovka (deception).

WW4/Middle East Files: Russian airstrikes kill rebel cmdr in Syria’s Latakia prov., 4 other insurgents, at least 15 civilians, First Coastal Div. affiliated with Free Syrian Army, one of several CIA-trained groups that received Saudi mil support, i.e., US-made TOW anti-tank missiles; Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Russian air campaign has killed 370 people since launch on Sept. 30, 1/3 dead being civilians; Pentagon once again urges US Air Force pilots to avoid Russian warplanes over Syria, Kremlin pilots increasingly aggressive over war-torn ME country, lately coming within 500 and 1,500 ft. of US fighter jets; Russian General Staff boasts navy’s Mediterranean task force can “deliver strikes” against ISIS positions in Syria, just as Caspian flotilla did with muscle-flexing cruise missile barrage on Oct. 7; Turkish PM says UAV shot down by air force Russian made, but possibly operated by Syrian regime or PKK-linked Syrian Kurdish PYD militia; Miami-based Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies shrugs off Havana’s denial of report re. Cuban troops in Syria, think tank director: “I wouldn’t expect anything different from Cuba,” urges Cuba watchers to wait for “further statements from US intelligence or secretary of defense”; Senate Judiciary Cmte chairman reacts to ICCAS report, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pens letter to Pres. Obama: “It’s disconcerting that in light of your new relationship with Cuba, the Castro regime has chosen to align with Russia and Iran in supporting Assad in Syria”

WW4/Middle East Files: Cuba refutes reports of troop deployment to bolster embattled Assad regime; U. of Miami think tank published original story on Oct. 13, Fox News picked up report next day, story circulated in social media; Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps loses 4th officer in Syria, Tehran admits adviser presence in Syria but, like Havana, denies involvement of combat troops, US officials insist Iran has at least 2,000 soldiers fighting for Assad, but no evidence for Cuban participation; Hezbollah chief Nasrallah says Lebanese militia’s presence in Syria “is larger than ever before — qualitatively, quantitatively, and in equipment, because we are in a critical and definitive battle”; Russian fighter jets based out of Latakia, Syria intercepted IAF warplanes flying over N. Lebanon on Oct. 1, under orders to shoot down Israelis, pro-Hezbollah As Safir quotes source: “The Russians immediately sent a clear warning to the Israelis that entering Syrian airspace would be a pretext for opening fire”; Russia-Israeli hotline designed to prevent such aerial clashes over Syria as Israeli DM Ya’alon reveals Russian air campaign will not interfere with Israel’s “freedom to act” in Syrian airspace; IDF to carry out annual drill in occupied Golan Heights Oct. 19-22

WW4/Middle East Files: Turkey shoots down unidentified UAV in sovereign airspace, US official says drone probably Russian but Moscow denies claim; meanwhile Syrian army, backed by Iranian troops, Hezbollah, Russian Air Force, open new front against ISIS, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front S. of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city divided between regime, rebel forces; Assad’s troops, with Russian air cover, also press offensives against US-backed rebels in Latakia, Homs, Hama provs.; Russian General Staff: Air force has flown more than 600 sorties since campaign began on Sept. 30; Putin lauds “impressive” results of airstrikes, says “Dozens of control facilities and ammunition depots, hundreds of terrorists and a large number of weapons have been destroyed,” alleges 5,000 to 7,000 militants from FSU fighting for Islamic State, blasts US “weakness,” “lack of any kind of agenda” vis-à-vis ISIS; Twitter pics show Iran’s Quds Force cmdr Maj. Gen. Soleimani rallying Iranian troops, Hezbollah in Syria’s Latakia prov.; White House expresses doubts about reports of Cuban troops in Syria, Kremlin’s Sputnik News agrees, cites Cuban embassy staff in Damascus, even as Capitol Hill Cubans website reminds readers of ties between Putin, Assad, Castro; Red China denies rumors of plans to send warships to defend embattled Assad regime

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Historic Flashback: Fidel Castro Deployed 4,000 Troops to Syria during Yom Kippur War, Cubans Reportedly Engaged in Combat against IDF (source)

WW4/Middle East Files: Chief of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces reportedly in Syria, Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frías leading 300 special forces to support Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian offensive against ISIS, US-backed rebels; Cuban troops apparently arrived on Russian aircraft via Damascus International Airport (itself under Spetsnaz control for at least 4 weeks), intend to man Syrian Arab Army’s Soviet/Russian-made tanks; Russia intensifies airstrikes on Oct. 13, announces 88 sorties from Latakia air base over previous 24 hours, “one of the heaviest days of bombardment of its campaign so far”; ISIS battles rival groups near hotly contested city of Aleppo as Free Syrian Army stations 12 TOW anti-tank missile platforms (out of recent shipment of 500 from Saudi Arabia) along 30 km defensive line in Hama province, hopes to contain regime advance

And so it begins . . . the International Communist/Shia Islam Terrorist Nexus is rushing to save what’s left of the Ba’athist regime in Syria. If the USA persists in intervening in the Syrian civil war, it should watch its backside (i.e., security of North American continent). Unconfirmed reports of Red China’s military involvement in defense of Assad have been circulating on the Internet for weeks. The situation in the ME is evolving fast and leaving Western policymakers without a strategy for freedom’s victory.

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WW4/Middle East Files: Tehran terror chief, Quds Force leader, Putin ally Soleimani arrives in Syria to bolster embattled Assad regime, command 1000s of Iranian troops in Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian offensive against ISIS-held portions of Aleppo city, prov.; Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps loses 1 more general, another officer in Syrian civil war, former CIA officer on earlier demise of Brig. Gen. Hamedani outside Aleppo: “He was in charge of [Iranian] operations inside Syria . . . it’s probably a fairly significant loss. There’s no doubt that it is a psychological blow to pro-regime forces in Syria”; Iraqi Air Force begins bombing ISIS targets with help of Russian, Syrian, Iranian intel staff, new coordination center in Baghdad’s Green Zone, former HQ for US occupation forces, hosts 2 one-star Russian generals, Iraqi official: “The idea is to formalize the relationship with Iran, Russia and Syria. We wanted a full-blown military alliance”; Turkish police ID 2 suspects allegedly behind horrific Oct. 10 suicide bombings in Ankara: 1) Yunus Emre Alagöz, older brother of Sheikh Abdurrahman Alagöz, suspected ISIS member who in July 2015 killed 33 Kurdish, Turkish activists in similar attack near Turkish-Syrian border; 2) Ömer Deniz Dündar, who in 2013 joined Islamist unit affiliated with Al Qaeda

WW4/Middle East Files: USA, NATO, Sunni allies engaged in confusing proxy war against Assad, Nasrallah, Khamenei, Putin as Syrian army, with Hezbollah guerrillas, 1000s of Iranian troops, close air support from Russian Air Force contingent in Latakia, muster to retake Aleppo from ISIS; Iranian fighters flying (presumably via Tehran’s Mahan Airlines) into Damascus International (which is under control of Russian officers, i.e., Spetsnaz), trucked to mil base in Latakia, deployed throughout Hama, Aleppo provinces; Washington, Moscow to hold talks after warplanes on Syrian bombing runs come within 20 miles of each other; US-backed Free Syrian Army to infiltrate Assad’s forces, find embedded Russian units and kill them; ISIS declares “holy war” against Russia after 2 weeks of Kremlin airstrikes (mostly against other rebel groups): ”The war in Syria will make the Russians forget the horrors that they found in Afghanistan [during the 1980s]”; Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch urges militants to attack Shia Alawite sect, Nusra Front condemns Russia’s “new Christian crusade” in defense of Assad: “There is no choice but to escalate the battle and to target Alawite towns and villages in Latakia . . .”; NATO member Turkey summons US ambassador, expresses opposition to arming Syrian branch of terrorist PKK, including Kurds in anti-ISIS Syrian Arab Coalition

Keep shopping folks. Just another world war in the works, not to mention some big cracks in NATO.

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WW4/Middle East Files: US Air Force C-17s, with fighter escorts, drop 50 tons of small arms ammo, grenades in Syria’s N. prov. of Hasakah, newly formed Syrian Arab Coalition to use US weapons to mount assault against ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, 3,200-man insurgent army includes Kurds, opponents of Assad regime; meanwhile Pentagon terminates disastrous training program for anti-Assad forces; Turkey did not shoot down Russian MiG-29 fighter jet near Syrian border on Oct. 10, says Aviationist website, debunking unconfirmed news reports; Russian Air Force contingent based out of Latakia using Sukhois, not MiGs, to attack ISIS, other Syrian rebels; rebel shells once again hit Russian embassy in Damascus as 100s of pro-Assad supporters rally outside compound in support of Russian airstrikes; Turkish PM Davutoglu blames Islamic State, far-left PKK for twin suicide bombings that killed nearly 100 peace activists in Ankara on Oct. 10; Russia’s FSB/KGB raids Moscow apartment, seizes bomb components, occupants reportedly trained at Islamic State camp in Syria, planned to attack public transit in Russian capital; Israeli artillery hits 2 Syrian army positions in Golan Heights after Assad’s forces trade fire with rebels, shells go astray; Tehran’s Mahan Airlines funneling arms, Iranian, Hezbollah troops to Assad, landing at Damascus, Latakia, flying without transponders, airliner under US, but not EU, sanctions

WW4/Middle East Files: Russia’s deceptive air campaign against “terrorism” in Syria leaves ISIS mostly unscathed in Aleppo prov., wipes/drives out US-backed, other Islamist groups, permitting Islamic State to seize 5 villages near country’s largest city, within 1 mile of territory held by Assad’s troops; rebel cmdr to Reuters: “Daesh has exploited the Russian air strikes and the preoccupation of the Free Syrian Army in its battles in Hama, and advanced in Aleppo”; terrorism expert: “I’m sure ISIS has sleeper cells in Aleppo. If they pushed, if they held their ground then that would be … a big win for them”; ISIS kills Iranian general advising Assad regime near Aleppo, Tehran’s Shia regime considers Islamic State, other Sunnis as “apostates”; French airstrikes near ISIS stronghold of Raqqa take out training camp; Saudi Arabia responds to Russian intervention on Assad’s behalf by increasing arms shipments to rebels, e.g., FSA, Army of Conquest, Southern Front; Pentagon pulls USS Theodore Roosevelt out of Persian Gulf for maintenance, to be replaced by USS Harry Truman by winter 2015, US Navy has no carrier presence in region until then (i.e., even as Russia fires cruise missiles across ME)

WW4/Middle East Files: Pentagon avoids confrontation with Russian warplanes on bombing runs in Syria, diverts 2 F-16s en route from Turkey’s Incirlik air base to ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, US Air Force pilots under orders to alter flight path (i.e., “turn tail”) if Russian plane(s) within 20 nautical miles; US-backed, Islamist rebels in Hama province resist combined offensive by Assad’s troops and Russian airstrikes, down 2 combat helos; MSM uncertain whether choppers Syrian or Russian but UK-based al-Araby website reports downed helos probably Russian, Kremlin based at least 6 Mi-24s in Latakia last month, although Syrians also fly “Hinds”; Syrian Chief of Staff Gen. Ayoub describes army ops as “a vast offensive to defeat the terrorist groups,” “weaken the fighting capabilities of Daesh [ISIS],” but does not specify locations; meanwhile, 500-700 ISIS militants “making gains” in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as Free Syrian Army faces weaponry, ammo shortages; Washington insists more than 90% of Russian airstrikes have targeted Syria’s “moderate opposition”; DC-based think tank describes Russia’s cruise missile attack against Syrian rebels as “bravado,” “chest-thumping,” first time supersonic “Klubs” used in warfare, highlights Moscow’s alliance with Tehran, growing influence in Baghdad

WW4/Middle East Files: Russian warplanes intercept, but refrain from shooting down US Predator drones over ISIS-held territory in Syria as Moscow escalates its week-old air war against anti-Assad forces, Caspian Fleet launches 26 long-range missiles at 11 Islamic State targets in Syria, missiles travel at least 930 miles over N. Iran and Iraq; Russian DM Shoigu says Islamic State assets destroyed include command centre, ammo depots, “no damage to civilian installations,” denies Western accusations Russia not really going after ISIS; Turkish PM Davutoglu: “These air raids are not against ISIS. There were 57 air raids by Russian air forces. Fifty-five of them were against moderate opposition and only two were against Daesh [ISIS] . . .”; collateral benefit for Kremlin includes demonstrating Russia’s resolve, might to politically divided West, sectarian-divided Islamic world; following 2 airspace violations by Russian Sukhois flying combat missions in Syria, Turkish President Erdogan reminds Moscow that any “attack on Turkey means an attack on Nato”; meanwhile, Syrian army, under cover of Russian airstrikes, prosecutes new ground offensive against US-backed and Islamist rebels in Hama, Idlib provinces; Royal Australian Air Force, fearing confrontation with Russian warplanes, suspends anti-ISIS airstrikes

Putin’s throwing everything’s he got at the Syrian crisis, all in an effort to maintain and expand Russia’s military presence outside the FSU.

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WW4/Middle East Files: Syrian pro-rebel website reveals Russian officers (Spetsnaz?) running Damascus International Airport, All4Syria’s says “It is Russian officers who are directing air operations and issuing instructions”; meanwhile Russia expands air campaign to national capital region for first time, Oct. 6 raids reportedly destroyed ISIS command center, comm hub in mountainous area of Damascus province; UK tabloid reports Putin deploys Spetsnaz to guard Russian air base at Latakia, lead Syrian-Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah offensive against regime opponents, appears to confirm Sept. 8 report in NYT: “There have also been unconfirmed sightings of Russian Spetsnaz special forces at the Syrian Naval Academy”; Russia’s Federation Council speaker Matviyenko on airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq: “In case of an official address from Iraq to the Russian Federation, [we] . . . would study the political and military expediency of our Air Force’s participation in an air operation. Presently we have not received such an address”; Iranian missile commander: All US bases in ME within range of arsenal; Russia begins deliveries of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Tehran

Some successful Spetsnaz actions took place during the invasions of Czechoslovakia in 1968 (Operation Danube) and Afghanistan in 1979 (Operation Storm 333). In both cases, Soviet special forces targeted the leader of the country: Alexander Dubcek was kidnapped to Moscow, while Hafizullah Amin was poisoned in Kabul.

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WW4/Middle East Files: Turkish Air Force responds to 2nd airspace violation in as many days by Russian warplane bombing Syrian rebels, NATO Sec. Gen.: “Intelligence that we have received provides me with reason to say it doesn’t look like an accident”; unidentified fighter jet flying along Syrian side of border with Turkey on Sept. 5 placed 8 Turkish F-16s patrolling region on “radar lock” (i.e., for target shootdown); Stoltenberg comments on Assad’s, Putin’s plans for ground offensive against US-backed factions: “[There is a] substantial buildup of Russian forces in Syria,” including “ground troops in connection with the air base they have”; US intel IDs at least 6 Russian artillery pieces in port of Latakia, 4 BM-30 MLRSs between Homs and Idlib, W. of Idlib, observes truck-, aircraft-mounted EW equipment that can potentially jam NATO electronics; head of Russia’s Duma Defense Cmte reveals “volunteers” (i.e., mercs who aided 2014 Crimean takeover) heading for Syria to fight for Assad, Komoyedov also said Black Sea Fleet could blockade Syrian coast, shell rebels; senior US official tells WSJ that Russia purposely attacking CIA-trained anti-regime forces: “On day one, you can say it was a one-time mistake. But on day three and day four, there’s no question it’s intentional”; 41 insurgent groups in Syria release manifesto urging defeat of Russian “occupiers”: “The Russian military aggression on Syria is considered a blatant occupation of the country . . . [and] is a legitimate target”

Syrian Civil War Map_9-27-15

Map of Syrian civil war, showing regime, rebel, US and Russian positions as of September 27, 2015.

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WW4/Middle East Files: Russia threatens to impose blockade along Syrian coast in support of Assad, head of Duma Defense Cmte, former cmdr of Black Sea Fleet says: “Regarding the large-scale use of the Black Sea Fleet in . . . a coastal blockade, I think that it’s quite [possible]. The delivery of artillery strikes hasn’t been excluded; the ships are ready for this . . .”; Baltic Fleet sends spy ship Vasily Tatishchev to support Russian naval group near Syria, task force already consists of missile cruiser Moskva, destroyer Smetlivy, landing ship Saratov, second landing ship Casear Kunikov spotted sailing through Bosphorus, en route to E. Med.; Russian warplane bombing Syrian rebels strays into Turkish airspace, Ankara scrambles air force to repel intruder, Moscow insists violation “navigational mistake,” Turkish Foreign Ministry warns against repeat incidents, NATO Sec. Gen. Stoltenberg: “I call on Russia to fully respect NATO airspace and to avoid escalating tensions with the Alliance”; Russian Defense Ministry reports 9 ISIS targets hit in Hama, Homs, Idlib, Latakia provinces over Sept. 4-5, Kremlin media says Russian Air Force using “smart weapons” for “surgical strikes” (i.e., KAB-250/500 laser-guided bombs), not only “dumb bombs” as alleged by W. media; Russian FM Lavrov labels US-backed Free Syrian Army “phantom group,” “No one has told us where the Free Syrian Army operates or where and how the other units of the moderate opposition act”

WW4/Middle East Files: Russian warplanes based in Alawite stronghold of Latakia bomb rebel targets in W. provinces of Homs, Hama on Oct. 4, 5th consecutive day of air campaign over Syria, at least 5 people killed near city of Homs; Syrian dictator Assad interviewed by Iranian TV, says “Russian attacks must succeed or the whole region could be destroyed”; West, ME divided on Russia’s intervention, Assad’s role in country’s future; Israeli PM Netanyahu rejects West’s criticism of Russia, “I went to Moscow to make it clear that we should avoid a clash between Russian forces and Israeli forces”; Germany’s Chancellor Merkel urges Assad’s involvement in “political solution” to civil war; Egyptian FM says: “Russia’s entrance . . . is going to have an effect on limiting terrorism in Syria and eradicating it”; meanwhile, US Pres. Obama remarks: “We’re not going to co-operate with a Russian campaign to destroy anyone who is disgusted and fed up with Assad”; British PM Cameron: “They [Moscow] are backing the butcher Assad, which is a terrible mistake for them and for the world”; Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Gulf states angered by Russia’s bombing of Syria’s Sunni rebels, “likely to increase military aid to anti-Assad groups”

WW4/Middle East Files: Russia’s air campaign against Syrian rebels continues into 4th day, “decimating” 50 ISIS positions, including stronghold in Raqqa, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, Sukhoi combat aircraft fly 60 sorties from base in Latakia since Sept. 30, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman boasts: “Our intelligence shows that militants are leaving areas under their control. Panic and desertion have started in their ranks. We will not only continue attacks by our airplanes but will increase their intensity”; US-backed rebels appeal to Washington for SAMs to shoot down Russian warplanes attacking their positions: “We need one of two things. Either a clear policy from the United States to prevent Russia and the regime from bombing Syrians, or otherwise they should send us anti-aircraft missiles so that we can confront the Russian planes”; Inherent Resolve spokesman: No change in coalition ops in spite of Russia’s intervention; WSJ re. Iran’s invasion/infiltration of Syria in defense of Assad: “Experts believe Iran has some 7,000 IRGC members and Iranian paramilitary volunteers operating in Syria already”

WW4/Middle East/USSR2 Files: East-West showdown looming over Syria as senior Pentagon officials, brass debate whether force should be employed to protect US-backed/trained rebels from Russian air strikes, White House refers to Russia’s “indiscriminate military operations against the Syrian opposition,” while Sec. of State Kerry cautions: “What is important is Russia has to not be engaged in any activities against anybody but ISIL [ISIS]. That’s clear. We have made that very clear”; Fox News: “At worst, if Russia bombs rebels trained by the U.S. and American fighter jets intercede to protect the Syrians, the exchange could trigger an all-out confrontation with Russia — a potential disaster the[Obama] administration would like to avoid”; senior US Air Force intel officer says Russian Air Force using “dumb bombs” to hit Syrian rebels, lending credence to reports of civilian deaths, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto: “I think precision matters. If they approach this with indiscriminate bombing, then I think it’s going to create second or third effects for them”; meanwhile, Russian Ground Forces sneak new weapon into rebel-held zone of Ukraine’s Donbass, TOS-1 mobile missile system equipped with thermobaric warheads, can wipe out several city blocks in one strike, wreak “indiscriminate damage”

Extra-large whistlin’ emoticon needed here.

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Soviet/Russian TOS-1 Heavy Flamethrower System

WW4/Middle East/USSR2 Files: Russian warplanes based in Assad’s coastal stronghold of Latakia launch 3rd day of strikes against Army of Conquest rebels in Idlib prov., Free Syrian Army positions in Hama prov., notwithstanding Kremlin’s lies about targeting ISIS, affirmation of US-backed FSA as “non-terrorist”; Cpt. Jameel a-Salih of FSA’s Tajammua al-Izza Brigade tells Syria Direct news: “Russia’s intervention in Syria is intended to exterminate the Free Syrian Army—no, the Syrian people”; Russian Communist Party (CPRF) boss Zyuganov applauds “ex”-CPSU cadre Putin’s air campaign in Syria, praises Ba’athist regime in Damascus (which governs in coalition with Syrian Communist Party), urges West to lift sanctions against Russia, alleges US-led anti-ISIS crusade tied to “Big Oil”: “Today, when the US sensed that huge oil and gas reserves could fall into the hands of terrorists, who will not use them in the ways that the State Dept. might like, this frightened them. Now they are looking for a way out. Without Russia, no issue in the Middle East has ever been resolved”; meanwhile, CPRF unseats United Russia in gubernatorial race for Siberia’s Irkutsk oblast, follows 2014 victory for Communists in mayoral run for Russia’s 3rd largest city, Novosibirsk, reflects growing popular support for Russia’s “former” rulers

WW4/Middle East Files: Iraqi PM Abadi interviewed by France 24, welcomes Russian air strikes against ISIS-held territory in Iraq, “It’s a possibility, if we get the offer we’ll consider it”; Russia not averse to Iraqi intervention, Foreign Ministry: “If we get such a request from the Iraqi government or a [UN] Security Council resolution . . .”; follows est. of intel-gathering agreement between Baghdad, Moscow, Tehran, Damascus, US Dep. Def. Sec. Work admits White House “surprised” by Iraq’s shifting alliances: “[W]e are in the process of working to try and find out exactly what Iraq has said”; USA initially learned of Kremlin’s imminent air campaign in Syria when Russian 3-star general approached US embassy in Baghdad, issued demarche: “If you have forces in the area we request they leave”; Russian air base in Latakia supports total of 34 fixed-wing combat aircraft, 20 sorties launched against anti-Assad rebels over Sept. 30-Oct. 1; Russian Navy to defend Alawite heartland, hold 40 drills in E. Med., warns civilian aviation to avoid flights between Cyprus, Syrian coast during Oct.

Things unravelling fast in ME. Got whistlin’ emoticon?

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WW4/Middle East Files: US Def. Sec. Carter accuses Moscow of “pouring gasoline” on Syrian civil war, East-West relations, as Russia launches second day of air strikes against US-backed Free Syrian Army, CIA-trained Liwa Suqour al-Jabal group, Al Qaeda-linked Army of Conquest, insists 12 ISIS positions targeted instead; BBC News reports Russian warplanes bombed strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour, areas in Idlib, Hama provinces, rebels also reported strikes at Ghantu in Homs prov., close to initial attacks on Sept. 30; US Sen. McCain lambastes Russia for attacking FSA: “Their initial strikes were . . . an incredible flaunting of any kind of co-operation or effort to conceal what Putin’s first priority is, and that is of course to prop up Bashar al-Assad”; Reuters, citing Lebanese sources, Fox News, citing Pentagon sources, confirm Iran’s Quds Force, Hezbollah guerrillas (equipped with 75 ex-Syrian army, Soviet-built tanks) to bolster regime ground offensive, Russian air campaign against rebels; Turkey, Saudi Arabia oppose Russian intervention in Syria, demand end to mil ops