Unz ReviewThis column was originally written for the Unz Review:http://www.unz.com/tsaker/week-six-of-the-russian-intervention-in-syria-a-first-major-success-for-the-syrian-armed-forces/

Finally. After weeks of gruelling combat the Syrian armed forces have liberated the Kuweyres air base in northern Syria. This is a huge victory for the Syrians because during the 2,5 year long siege of the airbase it had become an important symbol of the Syrian determination to resist the Takfiris in general and, especially, Daesh which had deployed its best fighters to maintain the siege of the base and prevents its liberation. In fact, the Takfiris did resist with everything they had up to the last moment. For those of you interested in video and photos of the combats and liberation of Kuweyres I would recommend the site of Colonel Cassad and specifically these posts: (in Russian)

http://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/2472071.html

http://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/2470426.html

Many of these images and videos are for a “mature audience” only, but they do convey the sense of victory for the Syrian side and I highly recommend watching them. Up to this moment all the successes of the Syrian armed forces were limited in importance whereas the liberation of Kuweyres not only represents a huge moral victory for the Syrians, but it also has an “operational significance” meaning that it actually changes the shape and dynamic of the front (click here for a high resolution map of the area). Put simply: the Syrian have now seized the initiative from Daesh and they are now on the offensive. As for Daesh, they now have to allocate their forces to prevent the Syrians from further exploiting their success in Kuweyres. Most observers, including myself, were hoping for, or even expecting, such a development, but now it has finally happened. This is very, very good news.

There was, by the way, an interesting if little noticed side story to this event: according to the Russian military, the “moderate opposition” gave key intelligence to the Russian to target the “terrorists” around the airbase. Here is what RT reported about that:

Syrian government forces received intelligence on terrorist positions around the besieged Kweires airbase from opposition sources, which helped them lift the two-year blockade, the Russian Defense Ministry has revealed. “This airfield had been surrounded by ISIS [the former name of the Islamic State terrorist group] for two years,” Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian defense ministry, said in a daily briefing. “Intelligence on the locations of the terrorist fire positions and support points around Kweires was provided by the Syrian opposition and cleared by the communication center in Baghdad.” Lifting the siege on the airbase in Aleppo provinces has been one of the biggest victories for Damascus since Russia started providing air support for Syrian government forces. The opposition also provided data to help target a big weapons depot of the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, near the village Mheen in the Homs province, Konashenkov revealed.

For one thing, as far as I know, the so-called “moderate opposition” is mostly a myth, and to the degree that it does exist, it is in Turkey and in London. Furthermore, I don’t remember the so-called FSA playing any major role around Kuweyres. So what is going on here?

Well, maybe the Russians just made up this putative intelligence sharing in order to show that they are working hand-in-glove with the “moderate opposition” or, which is far more likely, some folks associated with Daesh felt that the tide was turning and decided to re-brand themselves as “moderates” and gave the Russians some intel in exchange for money and life. This kind of sudden “coat turning” is typical of the Takfiris and the Russians saw plenty of that in Afghanistan. If my guess is correct, then this further goes to show that Daesh is beginning to seriously hurt under the combined effects of the Russian and Syrian offensives. Again, this is very good news indeed.

Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, also immediately declared that the liberation of the Kuweyres airbase “resilience, strength, determination, and vigor of the soldiers and officers of the Syrian Arab Army”. He is right.

Victory in Kuweyres 2There is no overstating the heroism of the Syrians who fought and refused to surrender even though they had no meds and minimum food and supplies But then, since they would not surrender, their only options were to fight to the end or die. And they fought, alone, for over two years. This is why the first Russian reporter who got into Kuweyres wrote “У сирийцев теперь есть свой Сталинград” (the Syrians now have their own Stalingrad).

Having taken Kuweyres, the Syrian army continued its offensive and, according to the latest reports, the Syrians have no also liberated the towns of al-Hader and al-Heis. Following this latest Syrian victory, a Takfiri commander blamed it on the Russian Air Force and declared The heavy aerial bombardment of Al Hader and the surrounding area gave us no choice but to retreat, but these are to-and-fro battles, where we win ground one day and the next day we lose it“. Maybe.

Still, it is way too early to celebrate. Following weeks of intense fighting and only tactical victories, the Syrians have now achieved their first operational breakthrough, but they will need several more before they can contemplate a strategic offensive against Daesh. This is something which the USA and, even more so, Turkey and Qatar are going to try to prevent with everything they got. Here again, it is important to repeat, that the very small Russian force in Syria does not have the means to, for example, prevent Turkey from moving its forces into Syria.

At this point in time, I would judge Turkey and Qatar as even more dangerous than the USA. Why? Because they both put way too much prestige and, especially, money into ousting Assad and building a pipeline across Syria to link their two countries and they know that as long as Assad or any other secular regime remains in power in Damascus they can forget about it. In fact, if the Russian-Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi-Hezbollah alliance is successful in flushing out Daesh from Syria, were will all the Takfiri freaks go? The risk here is not only for Turkey, but even for the Saudis!

In contrast, Obama will soon be gone anyway and its not like the USA has a real national strategic interest in Syria (unless you assume that pleasing AIPAC is such a vital goal). Yes, it would be humiliating for the “indispensable nation” to miserably fail only to have a “local power” like Russia brilliantly succeed, but this humiliation can always be blamed on the outgoing Administration and used to get more votes. As for the US “deep state”, it knows that it can work with Assad only because it used to work with him very nicely before it decided to dump him (Assad even tortured “rendered” suspects on behalf of the CIA!). So keeping Assad in power might be humiliating but not much more than all the other humiliation the AngloZionst Empire already had to suffer at the hands of Putin.

Speaking of Putin, he made an important statement this week: while initially Russian officials had declared that the Russian military operations would last approximately 3 months, Putin has now declared that “the duration of stay of our military will be determined solely depending on the time this objective is achieved”. This could indicate a far longer Russian involvement.

I might be mistaken, in fact, I hope that I am, but I don’t see how Daesh could be defeated without an increase of the size of the Russian military force in Syria and, especially, an increase in the number of Iranians supporting the Syrians on the ground. Nobody will be happier than me if I am proven wrong, believe me.

Final event this week: it appears that the Russians are further digging in and that they have now deployed S-400 missile system on their base in Khmeimim. Depending on how you look at it, this either doubles the air defense capabilities of the Russian naval task force off the Syrian coast, or frees the guided missile cruiser Moskva for other tasks. Curiously, Russian officials have denied that S-400s are deployed in Syria. Either way, this is good news as the the deeper the Russian dig in into their positions, the harder it will be to threaten them. All in all, a very good week for the resistance to Empire and there is real possibility that the next couple of weeks will see even bigger progress.

The Saker

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