It’s been an interesting 2015. A lot influential events have evolved the conflicts in the Middle East, the most impacting being the Russian air intervention. Of course other events were just as important, failed rebel offensives, government institutions beginning to degrade, the Yemen campaign that financially distracted Saudi Arabia, the Iran deal, the Vienna talks, and the strengthening of Kurdistan through the Kurd-American alliance. [Source]

The Russians and Iranians have given Assad the blooded and material needed to continue to fight. As General Omar Bradley once said “Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics”. With the constant sea shipments from Russia and the supplies the come in from Iran the Syrian Arab Army, NDF, and their allies (Hezbollah and Iraqi militias) have finally turned the logistical war against the Islamic State and the opposition.

Right now Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in confrontation. Saudi Arabia, being insecure and somewhat incompetent, has festered the Middle East with all sorts of issues, many of which reek of wahhabism.

Yemen, the poorest nation in the Arab world and the highest consumer of khat (an amphetamine-like product) is literally humiliating the world’s third most expensive military on the planet.

As I am finishing typing this the Syrian Arab Army is amassing large numbers of Syrian soldiers and equipment in Aleppo, perhaps planning the final blow to the jugular. Rumors abound that this will be the biggest operation since the beginning of the war.

So onto the battlefield:

Syria, Russia, Hezbollah, NDF:

• Syrian forces have used Russian-manufactured combat rover robots/drones (with Russian specialists) to capture a hill highlighting even more Russian high-tech weaponry. [Source]

• Cynically this only reinforces that Syria is just one large testing ground of modern weapon systems and military technology.

• More literature and pictures of the Platform-M and Argo robots can be seen at the following sources. [Source] [Source] [Source]

• A Syrian offensive in Palmyra has been met with great success with the initial shock attack by a combined force of Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah and Russian Air Force units routing ISIL forces from outposts surrounding Palymra before Christmas of last year. Syrian soldiers in Palmyra are in high spirits and are methodically cutting off and clearing out ISIL forces inside that area of operation. Russian Mi-24s are providing consistent cover to help reduce Syrian army causalities. [Source] [source]

• Zahran Alloush, the commander of the Islamic Front (a heavily supported Saudi Arabia jihadist group) has been killed by an air strike. Depending on the sources it was either a Syrian air strike, a Russian air strike, or a Russian air strike which the Russians are allowing the Syrians to take credit for (to help bolster moral, support the regime, etc.). Zahran Alloush was one of the five most influential commanders of the Syrian opposition outside of the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and the Kurdish YPG. [Source]

• In Daraa fighting closer to the Jordanian border is more intense as large areas are urbanized, entrenching the rebels against the NDF and SAA. Su-24s consistently providing interdiction strikes on potential rebel reinforcements. [Source]

• Jordanian tribesmen have been assisted the FSA in fighting the Syrian government. Some rumor them to be Jordanian Special Forces however they most likely are just tribesmen. The King of Jordan has limited powers and the tribes are what keep him in power. If one tribe decides to go to war in Syria and they have popular support from other tribes he has very little influence to deny them. If the US is helping them there’s even less he can do. [Source]

• Mahin was recaptured by the Syrian Arab Army two days after the date in the source video. Combat in that particular area saw the usage of close-air support, mounted pick-up trucks with heavy weapons, mounted trucks with even heavier weapons, light infantry (moved into position in fast pickup trucks), and Syrian Republican Guard BMP-2s. A continuous mixture of forces between NDF, Syrian Republican Guard, and Russian Air Force. [Source]

• The dam over the Euphrates in al-Akhmar has also been captured by the Syrian army with support by token elements from Syrian rebels, Kurdish forces and Turkmen militants. When I say token elements I mean literally anywhere from a fire team (like 2-4 guys) to perhaps a platoon (20-40 men). [Source]

• The Syrian Arab Army earlier claimed to have captured the “TOW Ace” Rami (Abu Hamza). Abu Hamza is supposedly a Turkmen Syrian who is part of the First Coastal Division for the FSA (which can be considered Al-Nusra’s TOW brigade in reality) [Source] [Source] [Source]

• However the man himself discredits the claim with a video [Source]
• Translation:
• “First Coastal Division Statement to Deny What the Regime Forces Have Been Circulating About the Arrest of Rami. In the Name of Allah the Most Merciful. Today, we’re in the 30th of the 12th month of 2015. Today, while I was sentineled (on duty) in Latakia’s plains manning the TOW, I was surprised to hear the boys telling me that I was imprisoned by the Regime forces. After my stationing was over and I went back to town, I asked around and it turned out that the Regime’s usual misinformation and propaganda was at it again. This time it was that they arrested a civilian, away from combat zones, just a regular civilian. Then they went out and said it is “Abu Hamza TOW.” I’d like to tell you though, and if Allah wills it and I was caught, there isn’t one Abu Hamza btw. There are many Abu Hamzas. I am not even the best marksman out there. There are far better TOW operators, and a lot of them all thanks to Allah. In the outer plains of Latakia, and in Syria as a whole.”

• Videos of Abu Hamza in past action to compare likeness of the captured individual and Abu Hamza of the past [Source] [Source]

• TOS-1 in action, turning a small hill into glass. Even though open sources claim only 15-20 were produced chances are there are a lot more in inventory. The open source claim is an estimate with already skewed data as its backing. [Source]

• Thanks to the Russian supplies consistently coming into Syria, the Syrian Arab Army has been furbished with some of the most cost-effective area-denial weapons Russia can provide, UZM and VSM mine-laying systems. In today’s modern battlefield thousands of mines can be laid down in mere minutes by truck, helicopter, plane, artillery cannon, rockets, or even by mortar. These area-denial weapons will aid the Syrian Arab Army in closing off large segments of the Turkish border (once recaptured) and in creating anti-ISIL buffer zones. In the desert this will play havoc on desert supply roads (which are built as needed during operations, by the SAA and ISIL, to circumvent official highways and roads being consistently ambushed). [Source] [Source] [Source] [Source]

• Russian advisors have been spotted outside of Palmyra (who will be providing command and consultation assistance to their SAA counterparts). Perhaps a guarding unit for a high ranking Russian officer about to take more direct control. [Source]

• Salma, which was a town on a hill, looks like a modern-day fortress and had to be surrounded before the SAA launched its offensive [Source] [Source] [Source][Source] [Source]

• In what can only be described as a lightning-quick blitz the SAA, after surrounding Salma under the cover of artillery and smoke barrages, stormed the hill and captured Salma in a fierce yet decisive clash. [Source] [Source] [Source] [Source] [Source] [Source]

• A Russian officer (General level) was on the ground overseeing the entire operation.
• Translation (which is in both Russian, from the officer, and his Syrian attaché which speaks both Arabic and Russian): [Source]
• Translation: “How has the Syrian Arab Army performed?” “Excellent. During my stay the SAA hasn’t retreated from a single position.”

• Salma was the new HQ of the rebellion and being so close to the Turkish border it was used as a transit hub to other rebel units inside Syria. It was a critical line of communication from Turkey to the Islamists and anti-Assad rebels in the area.

• The Syrian Arab Army has also launched consecutive offensives all over the country (with the aid of Hezbollah, the NDF, Iraqi-based Shia militias, IRGC forces, Russian Air Force, and other pro-Assad militias such as pro-Assad Turkmen and Palestinian factions). While everyone’s eyes were watching Salma, the Syrian Arab Army managed to clear out a significant district (Khan al Assal) near Aleppo [Source] [Source] [Source] [Source] [Source]

• Now the question remains if the SAA can consolidate their newly gained victories.

• The clear overall objective for Syria is to close off its border with Turkey, cutting off the main lines of communication for the Islamic State and other Islamist rebels.

• The lines of communication emanating from Jordan will have to be a different story. This area has some Islamic State groups operating but can easily be closed due to its geographical terrain (mostly flat desert sands with areas of refuge/rest stops). [Source]

• To be fair Jordanian intelligence has been tipping off Syrian intelligence of any rebels or Islamists that enter into Syria. This is the double game that Jordan usually has to play to balance its national interests, appeasing the US and the West by allowing rebels and Islamists to use its territory but using its intelligence apparatus to balance it again.

• There are rumors that Jordanian intelligence tipped off Syria about a Qatar and Turkey plot to blow up the plane Assad was using in 2013. [Source]

• Secondary strategy of negotiating with rebel forces and trying to heal the wounds of a society with amnesties and pardons if they lay down their arms in peace. A bad peace is better than a good war, even if these Islamists were master warlords of rape and plunder. However negotiations for the Syrian government only seem to work when the Syrian government has the upper hand so that the Islamists understand it was from benevolence and not weakness which allows them to keep their mortal lives and not join their prophet. [Source]

• These negotiators have been working in Syria since the onset of the war, showing the government’s efforts to reunite the peoples of Syria. The source, dated in 2013, shows a Syrian negotiator approaching rebels with a picture of Assad attempting to discuss with them their rebellion. [Source]

• Translation: The video doesn’t have subtitles but it starts with the negotiator approaching the rebels (after putting his weapon on the floor), yelling to them that we are both brothers, both from the same country. The rebels aggressively engage the negotiator “What Syria are you from?” the negotiator replies “the same one you’re from, our country, you’re my brother”.

• The negotiator asks to be allowed to carry his weapon off the floor after he gets invited by one of the rebels to come over. He tries to bring them half way but the rebels insist he comes to them. The negotiator tries to assure the rebels that they (the Syrian Arab Army) won’t open fire and even tells Syrian soldiers to back off. The rebels are really aggressive, asking him bluntly “why are you carrying a picture of Assad?” which the negotiator tactfully ignores and repeats “we are brothers, this is Syria”.

• The negotiator is about to walk away confused by the rebels (as one rebel is trying to get the negotiator to come over while another rebel is heckling him for carrying a picture of Assad). Just as he turns around and shrugs the rebels instantly change their tone and invite the negotiator over (including the heckling rebel) “come back, come and sit for a drink water” (not seriously, more like a tongue-in-cheek expression). The negotiator drops his weapon on the ground and goes to talk to the rebels UNARMED. As the negotiator approaches a rebel is heard loudly berating two fighters to reposition back to their old position (as they left without prior notice, a clear indication of the lack of cohesion seen in rebel and other insurgent units).

• When the rebel and negotiator meet face to face the aggressiveness of the rebels is very apparent. One rebel, with an Islamist band on his head, instantly begins to point and even poke the negotiator, the negotiator tries to reduce that type of hand language by putting his hand down and tries to explain that this rebellion “destroys the country, it ruins everything for everyone. Every family, every clan has a delinquent [sic] (black sheep) but that doesn’t mean the whole world needs to know the secret.” (I assume he means “it’s best not to air our dirty laundry in front of our neighbors” type of thing). He continues “I am Syrian and I studied in Syria, I studied engineering, Syria taught me, God bless you, you taught me, we are all one family.” He adds how he’s giving his own home to a family who fled the fighting without asking them to pay rent. The negotiator finally asks “God keep you, please don’t film me” just after a rebel starts asking “we saw two men get carried off by Assad’s guys [sic]”. The camera turns off. When the camera turns back on the rebels start to talk to each other (presumable after the negotiator has left):

• “Let’s just open fire at them, they’re standing right there” talking about the Syrian soldiers that are now across the street. Another rebel dismisses the suggestion by saying “calm yourself, calm yourself”

• This man was eventually killed, negotiating with rebels/Islamists (especially in 2013) was probably one of the most hazardous jobs you can get and yet it required the most articulate and patient of men. This was only one man of many who tried to bind the wounds that tore apart a society. I added this to show the tremendous levels the Syrian government went to try to mend what is happening. That there are Syrians who genuinely love their country and these negotiators are still out there risking their lives to make contact with rebels throughout Syria.

• Russia has openly admitted that it is providing the SDF with airstrikes as they approach ISIL forces (Syrian Democratic Front consisting of Kurds and Arab Syrians supported by the US) [Source]

• Since the end of December the Russian Air Force in Syria has been more visible in helping rebels fight the Islamic State. [Source]

• Russian policy will help any rebel willing to fight the Islamic State, even if they are anti-Assad. Russians are showing the world what it means to “prioritize”. [Source][Source]

• Russia seems to be providing humanitarian aid to Syria while international organizations provide humanitarian aid to terrorist-held areas. [Source]

• The UN and international aid always seems to get stolen by rebels or ISIL due to the inaction and bureaucracy of the UN [Source]

• Syrian Fulcrums (Mig-29s) are providing air cover to Russian-piloted Frogfoots (Su-25s), sharing the responsibility of protecting air packages. [Source]

• A lot of anti-MANPADS technology is seen on the Russian air assets in Syria, this Mi-8 seen taking off in the beginning of the video has two white pods attached to its wings on each side. The President-S protection system which can successfully deny target lock by infrared, radio, or laser of a shoulder-launched (or even vehicle launched) short-range anti-air missile. [Source] [Source]

• Russia is deploying the Ka-52, a high-tech and very capable attack helicopter. Very little is known about the true capabilities of this helicopter. Reports of its advance electronic warfare capabilities and its sheer power (capable of traverse mountain ranges in relatively terrible weather, for a helicopter) make it an enigma. The Ka-52 has better maneuverability and top speed than comparable modern attack helicopters. [Source]

• A navalized version of the Ka-52 does exist (Ka-52K) which was designed for the cancelled French Mistral amphibious assault ship.

• The Ka-52 is a modified two-seat version of the single-seat Ka-50

• At one point Israel developed a tandem-seat cockpit version of the Ka-50 called the “Erdogan” which was to compete in Turkey’s attack helicopter competition.

• The Ka-52 is considered a Special Forces support helicopter, while the Mi-28 is the Army’s main gunship.

• Russian Air Force has also dropped 22 tons of humanitarian aid to Deir-ez-Zor with il-76 [Source]

• PBS documents some ex-rebels who have joined the NDF to fight alongside the Syrian government (a rebel defects at the 9 minute mark and an ex-rebel turned NDF soldier gives his interview at the 41 minute mark). In documentary there are also fresh M-48 tanks, probably the same that Iran handed to Iraq and Iraq then seems to have handed them over to Syria (21:35 time stamp) [Source]

• Something really big is about to happen in Aleppo, a rumored 8000 SAA soldiers have already amassed, sent directly from Damascus. Fresh recruits are being sent straight to Aleppo for the oncoming operation. One Syrian insider is claiming this will be the biggest operation since the beginning of the war. [Source] [Source]

• The NDF (the reservists of the SAA) seem to be well-equipped and in very high-spirits, talking about how ISIL fighters run at the sight of Russian air planes. [Source]

• An older video, prior to the shoot down of the Su-24, showing the ever modernizing Syrian Arab Army [Source]

• Major General Igor Konashenkov talking about civilian causalities. He notes how the two 900kg bombs that recently were dropped by US-coalition fighters on an ISIL cash storage facility must’ve killed civilians. [Source]

The Islamic State:

• The Islamic State is suffering set backs on two fronts, losing Ramadi in Iraq and having major offensive operations cease in Syria.

• Ramadi has mostly been recaptured by the Iraqi army [Source]

• An inside look into the Islamic State by eye-witnesses that once were affiliated at some level or another revealing the social and strategic complexity of the group (thanks to a commentator for the source). Their reasons for defecting and becoming eyewitnesses was due to the hypocrisy of the group, the disappointing life under the Islamic State, the special privileges certain people enjoyed over others, the heavy levels of corruption, the displays of barbarity and brutality towards civilians, and the obsession ISIL has in fighting other Sunnis (as heretics/infidels) and in outing spies and traitors. [Source]

• It seems that the Western converts are made of more radical stuff than their domestic counterparts. This is true of Westernized-Arabs or legitimate Westerners converted to Islam.

• Other foreigners seem to provide specializations. Russian Muslims who are used as battle planners but not fully trusted as they are real Russian-blooded and would be considered as agents (their story would be that they were in the Russian Army, converted, left their post and now want to fight for the Islamic State).

• Chechens and Kazaks are battle-hardened and thus form the elite special forces of the Islamic State (Chechens apparently execute prisoners ruthlessly, numb to any feelings), Serbs are given roles as executioners.

• “One Serbian foreign fighter was pointed out by some of our informants as a particularly psychopathic executioner and more Serbians were seen as wanting to fulfill that role.”

• Training for recruits is also a heavy dosage of military drill and religious training. The religious instructors have been noted to be very charismatic, intellectual, warm and charming. They are able to convince many people to martyr themselves for the Islamic State. People note feeling complete after talking to them.

• Just like the Israeli “birth right” programs, the Islamic State places foreign recruits of different cultural backgrounds together to best allow teamwork to develop. Groups have their own language instructor who speaks fluently whatever language the group uses. This shows a very developed indoctrination program. Islamic universities from Egypt and Saudi Arabia are sending their best to this organization.

• The Islamic State has been eyeing Africa more and more not only for recruits but also as another means of financing through illegal poaching, mining (precious gems, rare earths and minerals), oil, and other resource-oriented industries. Yes the source is Voice of America but we’ve seen their expansion by incorporating Boko Haram (which is now Islamic State West Africa Province). [Source]

• The Islamic State also enjoys revenues from other industries including cotton and phosphate trading; corporations love buying raw resources at below-market prices no matter where they come from (both in the EU or China). [Source] [Source]

• Organ trading is also a very sizeable revenue source. Illegal organ trading has been ongoing in Turkey for decades. Israelis especially benefit from this as they are the largest consumer of organs. [Source]

• The Islamic State has also vocalized its loudest threat towards Israel (and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia again) reflecting its desperation to attract recruits more than anything else. [Source]

• The Islamic State seems to be attempting to develop its own high-tech weaponry such as remote-controlled bomb cars (with decoy humans that emit thermal signatures to fool scanners), aftermarket thermal batteries for IR-tracking surface-to-air missiles (which have been converted from jet-launched air-to-air missiles), and fuses of various types of chemical explosives. Source one is highly recommended video. [Source] [Source] [Source]

• Note in the video how the fighter indicates this training is meant for people leaving Iraq and Syria, to be able to build these things in the West if needed for an operation.

• This is only possible due to the level of technological proliferation seen in today’s society. Today there are pre-built devices with multiple interfaces (see source) which can be programmed to do anything from running a smart home, building customized electronics, and even controlling weapon systems. Countries like China have factories that produce everything and anything allowing end-users the same crafting capabilities as high-end corporations (special sized gears, actuators and mechanical equipment, etc.). [Source]

• One can argue that it’s not the Islamic State but the international intelligence agencies influencing the Islamic State to technologically find solutions to the Russian air strikes (like how the CIA aided the Taliban against the USSR in Afghanistan).

• The Islamic State also incorporates open-source and free technology such as encryption apps, though to what effect is this secure is yet unknown with claims that the NSA has long developed means to decrypt almost anything. [Source]

• A ‘lone-wolf’ manual was leaked which describes tactics for Islamic State fighters in infiltrating Western societies. It primarily involves not looking, talking, or acting like a Muslim, planning attacks in loud areas such as nightclubs where its natural of people to meet up, and avoiding the usual Islamic banter amongst brothers (like random Allah Hu Akbars). [Source]

• The Islamic State has lost significant territory, losing recruits, especially the cannon-fodder peasants from the backwaters of Syria and Iraq, as well as foreign recruits with their technical expertise. However the diehard fanatics will fight to the bitter end. [Source]

• The Islamic State in itself is a contradiction, much like many societies today. Today the practitioners of Islam within the Islamic State practice a bastardized version of the religion far removed from its original tradition.

• However the Islamic State provides a narrative that “transcends the material. The Islamic State didn’t grow because there are large numbers of unemployed and impoverished men in Syria and Iraq, (sub-Saharan Africa is poorer and has a larger population of unemployed men) and it’s not about religious edicts or duty. [Source]

• The most radicalized Muslims seem to come from wealthy or educated backgrounds. Men who could live the cream of Western life, and have visited or lived in the West at some point, only to reject the materialism of the West (and take refuge in their cultural and religious background). Osama Bin Laden, Sayyid Qutb, Ayman al-Zawahiri (a psychiatrist) are examples. Islamic State is literally using the narrative of “something greater than the material” to influence those that have rejected the West however slightly.

• An underground resistance has been ongoing through Islamic State territory in both military action against the Islamic State (in the form of assassinations) and in distributing anti-propaganda (by tagging anti-ISIL slogans on walls, handing out pamphlets, etc.). [Source]

• Millions of refugees are still incoming to Germany with many of them infiltrated with ISIL fighters, battle-hardened, trained and given standing orders (be it to set up cells or connect with other ones). European political-will seems so weak it’s literally letting in terrorists unchecked. [Source]

• Even though foreign recruits have decreased they still come. [Source]

• The Islamic State has launched a large counter offensive in Deir-ez-Zor. The Emir of the Islamic State forces in that area was killed in the offensive (Abu Hamza Al-Ansari) [Source]

• The Syrian Arab Army has restored some order even though they were attacked by 30 infiltrators (suicide bombers) by the Islamic State at Deir-ez-Zor [Source]

Kurdish Forces and Syrian Rebels (Syrian Democratic Front, YPG, and similar entities):

• The current makeup of the Syrian “rebellion” in one picture. Over the course of the year many factions have been annihilated, disbanded, or have merged with other factions. Others directly work with Al-Qaeda (see legend) [Source]

• The SDF and YPG have entered the Tishreen dam. At around 4:30 timestamp Kurdish forces stumble upon men who were locked up in the dam. The men explain to the Kurdish fighters that they are the workers of the dam and “have been under the administration of the regime, Army of Conquest, the Islamic State, and now you gentlemen”. “Our only responsibility is to take care of this plant for the world”. [Source]

• The capture of the Tishreen dam forces the Islamic State to use a much longer supply route which eventually has to cross the Euphrates to reach Raqqa, creating better conditions to be able to monitor and spot ISIL supply units (in a less populated area that has fewer oasis and pit stops). [Source]

• The Islamic State is still engaging the YPG and SDF around the dam, contesting its control. The Islamic State needs the dam for electricity as well as being a junction in the shorter supply route from Turkey, that’s the only reason they haven’t blown it up. [Source]

• A Syrian Druze movement has formed its own security unit (militia, whatever) that is independent of the Syrian regime and the Islamists [Source]

• Rebels in Al-Sheikh Maskin, part of the southern front, shows rebels using Google Earth and manually calculating their firing solution on SAA positions. For whatever reason Russian Air Forces haven’t struck these artillery pieces [Source]

• On a side note this is why Israel won’t allow high-resolution satellite imagery on Google Maps, try it yourselves, look at your city and how far you can zoom in and then find a town in Israel, preferably closer to the Lebanese and Gaza border and see the difference. The source is an old article (2011) but it still applies today. [Source]

• The YPG have published their yearly breakdown of operations for 2015, launching 453 operations in total which killed 5875 hostiles and captured 2177 enemy causalities (by YPG definitions) [Source]

Islamist factions other than ISIL (Al-Nusra, Army of Conquest, Al-Qaeda, etc.):
• The Rahman Corp, part of the Army of Conquest, seems to be well-furbished with T-72M1 tanks, BMP-1s, Yugoslavian-made M-60 Recoilless Rifles, and even Shilka self-propelled anti-air gun (in this video used in a ground firing role). This includes ammunition for all these weapon systems. [Source]


• The fighting in Ramadi is heavily based on urban warfare tactics, using snipers and heavy machine guns in tangent with tanks point-blanking entrenched positions and close-air support. [Source]

• I’d like to note the level of destruction in this video compared to when the US was fighting Sunni insurgents in the area. In the past US forces tried to keep some semblance of the city intact. This includes both the first and second battle of Ramadi during US occupation. But when the Iraqi army rolls in and destroys everything its okay.

• During Christmas Baghdad put up the biggest Christmas tree in the Middle East. A show of solidarity against the Islamic States intolerance. [Source]

• After hard fighting Ramadi falls to Iraqi security forces. The Islamic State has left behind several traps, including land mines and IEDs, as well as pockets of resistance throughout the city but the majority of area falls under Iraqi Army control. [Source]

• US forces have been active in training the Iraqi Army in anything and everything. This declassified video shows US military advisors training Iraqi Army engineers in deploying floating pontoon bridges. These bridges were used to help the Iraqi Army assault to the center of Ramadi across the Euphrates after bridges connecting the city center had been destroyed by ISIL. [Source]

• The government in Baghdad is providing weapons and financing to the Shingal Protection Unit, being recognized as one of the countless (Shia) militias now involved in fighting the Islamic State. However the Kurdistan regional government has been delaying the process of transferring weapons. The weapons include heavy equipment such as mortars and even tanks. They have managed to stretch out their funds to double up their salaried fighters (and are strengthened even further by volunteers). [Source]

• The Iraqi Air Force is putting the Mi-35 and Mi-28 helicopters to good use against ISIL [Source]

• US targeting force (probably part of SOCOM) has arrived in Iraq to help in locating, identifying and targeting Islamic State assets [Source]


• Turks have tried too hard to play the geopolitical grand game, this time through their Turkish connections throughout central Asia. This also includes the Uyghers in China. One attack in particular against Chinese soldiers (in the past) in the Western part of the country may have Turkish involvement. [Source]

• A Turkish redline has been crossed. YPG (Kurdish) forces have crossed the Euphrates. The reaction from Turkey has been nothing probably due to the fact they’ve expended most of their influence in the downing of the Russian Su-24 [Source]

• There is an ongoing counterterrorism operation against PKK Kurds inside Turkey. [Source]

• As a result the PKK has launched a string of counter attacks throughout Kurdistan against Turkish police stations and other Turkish government property [Source]

• The Islamic State is also attacking Turkey in the form of suicide bombings [Source]

• Turkish military is now targeting some Islamic State groups inside Syria, aiding rebels in the hopes of countering ISIL [Source]

• It seems Turkey is really the loser in the whole affair.

• Turkey now continues to attack Islamic State targets inside Syria and Iraq on the ground and by air [Source]

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world