A quick note: I do apologize for how late this SitRep is. Unfortunately I too must obey the great capitalistic system and submit to their demands (holiday hours) and the CIA is not known for its Christmas bonuses.
It seems great events unfold every 2 weeks in Syria. The downing of a Russian Su-24 by a Turkish F-16 fighter has been the highlight. Russian retaliation has been a complete exposure of Turkish connections within the Islamic States oil trade, the near carpet bombings and artillery barrages of the Islamist Turkmen frontline near the Turkish border inside Syria, and the a more active role in interfering in Turkish geostrategic opportunities. [Source] [Source] [Source]
The Western media quickly rewrote the narrative to obfuscate the facts and to reinforce falsehoods (such as the fabrication that the Su-24 was inside Turkish space when it was shot down and that Turkey responded appropriately). Turkey quickly ran to NATO to hold an emergency meeting.
Generally speaking (and I do not mean to insult any Turkish readers we have) comparing the three strongest Muslim nations, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan (sadly Arabian countries cannot begin to match the output, physical capabilities, and domestic technology of these three nations) Turkey is by far the weakest of the three. It’s only benefit is its ability to acquire weapon systems from the NATO catalog (which translates to a superior Air Force and Navy). Pakistan on the other hand has a robust and capable intelligence apparatus (ISI) that singlehandedly managed to create a nuclear program (and weapons) by stealing technology from the West while Iran has a nearly self-sufficient military industrial-complex and battle-hardened and revolutionary elite forces. So in terms of operational capability Turkey falls far behind. (One just has to look at the 3+ decade’s long fight against the PKK to highlight the complete incompetence, albeit highly armed and numerical superior, Turkish military).
I’d like to note that Turkey was willing to open fire on an Russian Su-24 because of perceived air violation but the reaction to Israeli naval boarding of the MV Mavi Marmara and the killing of 9 Turks has yet to be answered militarily (it’s actually ten Turks who died, one died later in hospital after being in a coma for four years).
That is not to belittle Arabian state militaries; Egypt and its Western-trained highly-financed army is one of the most advanced Arab militaries. Its shortfall however is its direct dependence on foreign weapon suppliers for nearly everything (and the fact it has not fought a serious war since 1973). Saudi Arabia has ludicrous amounts of money, which in its own right, is a power of itself. Syria of course can be considered the most battle-hardened military in the Arabian world. Regardless they are fractions of the three giants of Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran.
But I digress, the situation in the Middle East has evolved as so:
• There are rumors (but I am pressed to find a link) of Russian T-90s and even Russian special forces which have joined the battle in South Aleppo to aid in countering the never-ending numbers of TOW missiles in the hand of rebels.
• As mentioned a Turkish F-16 shot down a Su-24 in what can only assume is retaliation for the dent in war-profiteering Turkish elites were enjoying until Russia stepped in. [Source]
• One pilot was killed while parachuting down while another was rescued. A Turkish ultra-national seems to be claiming the credit. [Source]
• The Russian rescue attempt had failed as their Mi-8 helicopter began to take heavy fire and was forced to make an emergency landing in which rebels supposedly managed to destroy it with a TOW missile killing a Russian Marine. [Source][Source]
• Russia has responded with deploying the S-400 (even though pictures of its deployment has been seen in the past). [Source]
• Though this earlier deployment could have been a very successful military deception operation (Maskirovka which is “Russian military deception” which somehow is different than regular military deception. Much like terrorism and ISLAMIC terrorism.) Source is a picture of a dummy S-300 vehicle. [Source]
• This feels, to me, like a strategic victory for Israel and the US which is now able to study the emissions and methods of the S-400 in deployment. This weapon system, to my knowledge, has never left Russia before and therefore data collection on it by Western intelligence was minimal.
• An 18-man Syrian commando team linked up with a 6-man Hezbollah special operations team to assist the surviving Su-24 pilot as well as the Mi-8 crew/marines in fighting their way back to friendly lines. [Source] [Source]
• Russia also responded by flattening the entire area in which the Turkmen terrorists are operating from in a combined Russian air strike and Syrian artillery barrage. [Source]
• To demonstrate the gains of the past 2 months (August 30 to November 30) in a 2-image animated GIF; the breaking point of ISIL would show large swaths of black areas being recaptured in a matter of weeks. [Source]
• There is a ridiculous amount of drones in Syria, with Russian drones continuously capturing US drones on camera. Over 50 drones can be operating simultaneously in Syria and the Syrian-Turkish border [Source][Source]
• Iranian forces, backed by Iraqi militias, are holding significant portions of the front lines in Syria aside their Syrian Arab Army counterparts. [Source]
• Hezbollah, although suffering from causalities in the Syrian conflict, has exponentially expanded their capabilities with hardened experience in offensives as well as modern light-infantry warfare techniques (in which infantry must be ghosts in a battlefield of tanks, drones and precision weapons). I should note the Iranians have nearly mastered light-infantry warfare in a modernized warzone, Hezbollah is just getting the experience needed. [Source]
• Iran seems to be independently closing the technological gap against its regional adversary Israel. [Source]
• Major General Soleimani, an IRGC Quds Force officer, was involved in the Russian rescue operation apparently promising to return the living pilot back to his base.
• Millions (with some saying up to 26 million….) Shia visitors have come to Iraq for the Arbaeen pilgrimage. ISIL had claimed it would stop this (like Saddam). [Source]
• Iraqi Army has been seen deploying the GMLRS, US GPS-guided missile artillery. A weapon system marketed as excellent for counter-insurgency operations and reducing collateral damage in an urban environment. The first source is a demonstration during US occupation in Iraq. [Source] [Source] [Source]
• Fighting in Ramadi continues with fierce clashes [Source]
The Islamic State:
• ISIL seems to have made a huge error in declaring a caliphate and on top asking the world to attack it. Without its ability to hold onto territory (which nearly all caliphates require) the Islamic State may be forced to revert back to its form of being just a “terrorist group” instead of a quasi-state like Kurdistan. This reversion will highlight Gods lack of favor…. A huge PR blow to ISIL.
• ISIL is having issues maintaining manpower itself. Many Islamist veterans have left the ranks of the Islamic State discovering it’s primarily consisting of “hipster Muslims led by ex-Ba’athist Iraqis” and “foreigners with a demonic understanding of Islam”.
• The Islamic State has received reinforcements from Turkey including militants, munitions and vehicles. [Source]
• A reporter has managed to tour the Islamic State capital Raqqa and live to tell the tale. [Source]
• He talks about how there are many foreigners in Raqqa, many of them in the eyes of the reporter were people who may not have had any importance in their host countries (as many of them are Europeans). Some seem unwilling to discuss the difficulties of living in the Islamic State far from their Western comforts.
• Many of the foreigners who join the Islamic State are delusional youths, once ex-drug dealers in Eastern London now turned Imams, young misguided girls looking for their prince, and foreign extremists looking for plunder.
• Al-Nusra Front has traded Lebanese hostages for Islamist prisoners, including Baghdadi’s ex-wife and her two children (one being born inside the prison). She claims to have been divorced from Baghdadi for 6 years. [Source]
• The Islamic State can ill afford to commit to large formation battles such as that seen in Kobani in which many fighters were killed by the YPG and its US Air Force support. In Tikrit and Sinjar the Islamic State used mines, traps, IEDs, ambushes, snipers, mortar teams and other insurgency tactics instead of large formations of fighters supported with armor and artillery. Reflecting the shift into a decentralized small-unit formation instead of large troop detachments due to increased air strikes from all sides.
• Baiji seems to have been a diversionary operation in which Islamic State units began to withdraw in an orderly fashion (ie setting up IEDs, mines, and ambush positions) when Ramadi fell. If not a diversionary operation than it could be an adaptation of the Soviet Deep Battle in which successful fronts are reinforced (Ramadi) and stagnating fronts are abandoned (Baiji).
• Suicide car bombs are being used against the Iraqi forces with relatively good effect. [Source]
• The Islamic State stronghold in Libya is significantly more dangerous to Europe which is baffling why Libyan ISIL targets are not the priority for France, Germany and Britain. [Source]
• The Islamic State is eyeing Africa more and more, primarily for economic reasons and recruitment. Africa has been known for its illegal diamond trade, drug trade, and other resource-oriented smuggling. [Source]
• The Islamic State can ill afford to commit to large formation battles such as that seen in Kobani in which many fighters were killed by the YPG and its US Air Force support. In Tikrit and Sinjar the Islamic State used mines, traps, IEDs, ambushes, snipers, mortar teams and other insurgency tactics instead of large formations of fighters supported with armor and artillery. Reflecting the shift into a decentralized small-unit formation instead of large troop detachments due to increased air strikes from all sides. [Source]
The Yemen War (Houthis, AQAP, Saudi Arabia and Friends)
• Saudi forces are in total retreat in Yemen (see videos below).
• Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has captured a town from the pro-Hadi loyalist forces [Source]
• This puts them closer to Aden, the Houthi captured port city.
• Yemen is the third highest in terms of gun ownership in the world (behind Serbia and of course the number 1 US of A). There is no shortage of weaponry in Yemen regardless of outside support. [Source]
• When Yemen was a rich nation it purchased several complete Soviet kits designed to equip entire divisions, which included SCUD launchers. Yemen, as a Soviet client, was ordering equipment for two motorized divisions indicating there are at least eight SCUD launchers in the country plus potential spares. SCUD missiles of both Soviet and North Korean design were purchased by Yemen.
• Khat, a plant with amphetamine-like chemicals, is a common drug consumed by Yemenis. Houthis are seen chewing on khat inside their cheeks, giving them a slight euphoric feeling and somewhat sharpened senses. Drugs, alcohol, and warfare seem to go hand in hand in human history. [Source]
• It seems the majority of the fighting is done by the Saudi National Guard aided by loaned forces from African states as well as Colombian mercenaries [Source]
• It’s unclear, but highly likely, that the Saudi government has also hired Western private military contractors for logistical and intelligence support. However there is no direct proof of any PMC working inside Yemen in a combat role.
• Yemeni forces raise their flag on Saudi town of Rabuah in Asir Governate [Source]
• Causalities for Saudi Arabia are roughly 2000 soldiers (with 4,850 wounded), ~450 tanks, 4 US manufactured Apache Helicopters, 15 other military aircrafts, 3 boats and 200 billion Saudi Riyals in damage. The damage is a bit high and might be overestimated. Information comes from a Saudi dissident who leaks classified Saudi government files under the twitter account “@Mujtahidd” [Source]
• Saudi Arabia has been constructing a super barrier between itself and Yemen since 2003 which involves: 3,397 trainees, 60 trainers to supervise operations, eight command and control centers, 32 interrogation centers, three rapid response units as well as 38 back and front gates with surveillance cameras. 78 communication and surveillance towers, 38 of the former and 40 of the latter, and is equipped with 85 surveillance posts, 50 day-and-night surveillance cameras, 10 monitoring and surveillance vehicles, a 1.4-million meter fiber optics networks, 50 radars, five 900 kilometer security fences, in addition to other barriers. [Source][Source]
USA/Israel/Turkey/NATO/EU States involvement in the Middle East:
• Britain has joined the bombing of the Islamic State. Stocks soared for weapon (defense) companies at the announcement. [Source]
• UN Mandate allows Islamic State to be bombed wherever, making the airstrikes in Syria by Britain completely legal. Not that legality ever mattered anyway. [Source]
• Germany will be getting some more of the action too. [Source]
• Turkish troops have illegally deployed inside Iraq for some notorious reason no doubt. [Source]
• Iraq has also said the US’s deployment of US special forces in Iraq was a ‘Hostile Act’ [Source]
• There is a debate inside the Iraqi government in which a faction is continuously saying that ISIL is undefeatable without the Americans, while another faction insists foreign ground troops are not needed. [Source]
• US forces are in Kobane as of November 26 [Source]
• It seems Israel and Russia have some sort of agreement towards Syria. Unlike that seen by Turkey and Russia. [Source]
• Israel has carried air strikes into Syria and against Hezbollah positions. It is claimed Syrian troops have been killed; Russian air cover has limits. It’s not known exactly what Russia is doing in the background to appease Iran or Syria, if anything. [Source]
• In what can only be called an attempt to seed the foundations of rewriting history, PBS has used Russian footage of ISIL oil trucks being struck in Syria and has given the credit to the US Air Force [Source] [Source]
• Inside Syrian Kurdistan the US is setting up an airbase to directly assist in supplying Kurds and the Syrian Democratic Front; sources are shaky at best but there has been a pattern of the US setting up more assets inside the area for future operations (SAR teams, Special Forces on the ground, etc.) [Source]
• German intelligence (BND) has pinned the destabilization of the Arab world on Saudi Arabia’s impulsive interventionist policy [Source]
• Israel has secretly trained itself against Russian air defenses in Greece against Greek operated S-300 systems which was activated on Crete. [Source]
• In what I can only describe as weapon manufacturers trying to stir up more sales, CNN has made a piece about how the United States (the god of bombs and military-industrial complexes) is running out bombs. [Source]
• To be fair however during the Iraq war the US forces were at one point running out of various types of munitions and were purchasing them from NATO and Israel. [Source]