The following is a bit of a compilation, consisting of two translations with commentary and notes [in brackets] by Vince Dhimos and some quotes from Twitter and msm.
I will start with a tweet by military affairs expert Babak Taghvaee from October 13.
#BREAKING: I just got confirmation that on request of #SDF, #Russia has agreed to establish No fly-zone over NE #Syria to prevent #Turkish Air Force from bombing #SDF/ #YPG/ #Rojava [Rojava is the Kurdish name for Kurdistan]. #RuAF's Su-35S fighter interceptors left #Hmeimim Air Base to confront Turkish F-16C/Ds & F-4Es!
Just prior to this Taghvaee had tweeted:
#BREAKING: #Russia has not yet established No-Fly Zone over NE #Syria due to the fact that withdrawal of #US SOF is Now delayed for another 12 hours! Tomorrow when #Syria Arab Army will start its offensive against #Turkish Army & its terrorists, No-Fly zone might be established! – End tweet.
This shows that the US was, as usual, indirectly endangering the lives of Syrians, including the Kurds it purported to protect, by staying in Syria and standing in the way of the Russians and Syrians, who, instead of flapping their jaws about democracy and war on terror, actually protect human lives in Syria. Yet US politicians and msm uphold the utter absurdity that only the US – which in fact arms terrorists when it thinks it can get away with it – is capable of defending anyone. Trump is accused of endangering the Kurds when in fact – wittingly or not – he is protecting them by finally giving the Russians a free hand. According to rambler.ru, quoting BBC, journalist Jeremy Bowen has called Putin the most influential person in the Middle East. (The British reporting site has restricted access so I quoted the Russian source.) Yet the US was stifling his influence in ways that promoted terror and Turkish insolence.
The essential difference between the US and Russia is that the US divides groups and nations into good guys and bad guys, while Russia takes no sides – except against terrorists – and tries to achieve a balanced harmony among all sides. Westerners are struggling to understand this concept and most are failing. They constantly strive to determine whose side Putin is on. Some insist he favours the Assad “regime” when in fact, he wants the best for the Syrian people, as he keeps saying. Meanwhile, the US keeps supporting the Kurds for the purpose of breaking up the integrity of the Syrian territory. Russia, of course, aims for an intact Syria. Intuitively we know that discriminating against some groups while favouring others is a recipe for failure. Yet the US does this on behalf of the 2 nations that shape its foreign policy, namely, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and for the reasons outlined here. Is it any wonder that this policy is failing colossally?
RUSSIAN SU-35S SCARE OFF TURKISH F-16S VIOLATING SYRIAN AIR SPACE
The following are translations of two articles appearing at lenta.ru on August 8 and October 15, respectively, of this year with commentary and notes [in brackets] by Vince Dhimos.
Russian Su-35 drove Turkish F-16s from Syria
August 20, 2019
Russian Su-35S fighters allegedly intercepted Turkish F-16s and forced them to leave Syrian airspace. As reported by Al-Masdar News.
It is known that Turkish fighter jets were forced to leave the sky above Idlib, having already covered a distance of 30-40 kilometres. This clearly indicates either a warning from the [Russian] aerospace forces or the detection of Russian combat aircraft on radar.
After this incident, the Su-35S aircraft were seen in the vicinity of the city of Khan Sheikhun. It is noted that the goal of Russian planes that flew from Khmeimim is to "deter Turkish planes from rash actions." Other details are not reported.
On August 19, the Syrian Air Force hit the Turkish column invading the country. According to the Turks, the shells exploded in the immediate vicinity of military vehicles, but no losses were reported.
Turkish armoured personnel carriers violated the Syrian border and entered the city of Sarakib on August 19. Military equipment was headed towards Khan Sheikhun.
The de-escalation zone in Idlib is one of four existing in Syria. It was created [jointly] by Russia and Turkey in 2017. Most of it is still not demilitarized and is under the control of the Khayyat Tahrir al-Sham group (HTS, created on the basis of the banned Jabhat al-Nusra in Russia [Jabhat al-Nusra is a terrorist organization associated with al-Nusra]) and the armed Syrian opposition. Moscow and Damascus consider most of the rebels on its territory to be terrorists.
The civil war in Syria began in the spring of 2011. The main participants in the conflict are government forces supporting acting President Bashar al-Assad, the so-called moderate opposition and Islamic groups. The opposition is supported by the United States and European countries, while Russia helps the Assad government.
October 15, 2019
October 15, 2019
Syria News October 15, 2019. Russian fighters intercepted Turkish F-16s, Russian flag hoisted above Manbij [Turkey is contesting this city. Its population is mostly Arab, with some Kurdish presence]
The latest news of the fighting in Syria on October 15, 2019
Russian Su-35 fighters intercepted Turkish F-16 combat aircraft, preventing the latter from delivering air strikes at the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Manbij.
According to several sources, terrorists, with the support of the Turkish army, tried to storm the city of Manbij, where in addition to the Syrian democratic forces and the Syrian army, the Russian military is also located.
#BREAKING: However #Russia Air Force has just 6 Su-35S fighter interceptors in #Hmeimim Air Base, #Syria. But seems they have done a good job this afternoon well protecting #SDF & #SAA from danger of #Turkish Air Force fighter jets in #Manbij. (Archive video by #Russian Air Force) https://twitter.com/BabakTaghvaee/status / 1183859849223913475 ...
#BREAKING: I just got confirmation that on request of #SDF, #Russia has agreed to establish No fly-zone over NE #Syria to prevent #Turkish Air Force from bombing #SDF/ #YPG/ #Rojava [Rojava is the Kurdish name for Kurdistan]. #RuAF's Su-35S fighter interceptors left #Hmeimim Air Base to confront Turkish F-16C/Ds & F-4Es!
#BREAKING: According to my #Russian military sources #Russia Air Force successfully provided top cover for #Syria Arab Army & #SDF this afternoon during which at least in one case, #Turkish F-16Cs which were about to bomb a #SDF HQ in #Manbij were chased away by 2 #Russian Su-35s!
Initially, it was planned [by the Turks] to carry out the bombing of the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which would start a ground attack, however, thanks to the Russian air forces, the Turkish air strikes were disrupted.
It should be noted that in the area occupied in the north of Syria, the Russian aerospace forces are present almost constantly.
The Russian military raised the Russian flag over Syrian Manbij.
Despite the absence of official statements regarding the presence of the Russian military in Syrian Manbij, this afternoon photos were published showing Russian flags raised above the city.
According to unofficial data, up to 150 Russian troops may be in the territory of this northern Syrian city. [The presence of Russian troops will undoubtedly deter the Turks, who are not keen on starting a conflict with Russia.]
Read more at: http://avia.pro/blog/novosti-sirii-15-oktyabrya-2019-goda-rossiyskie-istrebiteli-perehvatili-tureckie-f-16-nad
For the sake of completeness, Al-Masdar has reported on October 20:
“The battle for the strategic border city of Ras Al-‘Ayn has ended in a victory for the Turkish-backed militants as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made the decision to withdraw their troops and the civilians from the area.”
Now this incursion by Turkey had to have been tacitly allowed by Russia, but let’s back up and consider who are the SDF, which is known to be a Kurdish-controlled US-backed and armed military group.
Human Rights Watch reported in August 2018 that the YPG, a branch of the US-backed SDF had recruited children from refugee camps in Syria.
TRT World reported in May 2019 on the abuse of protesters by US-backed militants:
“Instead of non-violently dispersing the protesters, residents say the US backed force, which is mostly made up of YPG fighters (a local branch of the PKK terrorist group) [YPG and PKK are components of SDF] and a smaller Arab contingent, opened fire on the demonstrators, wounding several.”
“...cases of robberies, kidnappings, and other crimes were on the rise, and that in his eyes there was only one suspect.
‘Me and everyone in the village believes that the SDF are in one way or another connected to these cimes,” Hussain said, adding:
“’They control everything, their fighters are everywhere...who would dare to commit these crimes unless they were protected by the SDF?’”
Kyle Orton reports in March 2018:
“The SDF has arrested the relatives of members of the Syrian opposition and IS alike. ‘Several of those detained were women and children, including a 16-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy,’ the Commission reports, adding that the SDF tortured some of its captives to get them to give up their relatives. ‘Some male detainees were reportedly beaten and burnt with cigarettes and did not receive medication for chronic illnesses such as diabetes,’ the IICI report notes.
Just a little insight into why Trump said the Kurds, who lead, and make up the bulk of, the SDF, were “no angels.”
And this just in from Al-Masdar, shows why the US pull-out has aided in making advances in fighting terror. Note that the Russian engineers were shelled by terrorists, as reported below, giving the lie to the absurd reports that the US had cleared out the terrorists. In fact, the US was blocking the progress of the Russians and Syrians in their fight against terror. It is thanks to the US pull-out that this progress is being made.
Russian military builds bridge in record time to deploy heavy arms, aid across Euphrates
October 20, 2019
Russian road service military experts have erected a bridge across the Euphrates River, a few kilometers away from Deir ez-Zor in northeastern Syria. It will be used to deploy military equipment and troops to the eastern river bank.
The MARM small motorway panel bridge was erected in less than two days under continuous shelling, Head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Road Service Vladimir Burovtsev told reporters.
“Unmanned aerial vehicles were used. Explosive substances and grenades were falling on us from the air during the installation work. However, we have no losses. No injured or affected. Everything was erected in the set terms,” he specified.
The bridge is 210 meters long. It can serve 8,000 cars a day. The bridge supports heavy armored vehicles, such as tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and multiple-launch rocket systems, Burovtsev said. The bridge will also be used for aid convoys to liberated communities and medical evacuations.
Syrian state forces liberated most part of Deir ez-Zor in early September. IS’ (Islamic State, a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) main forces were forced to retreat to the opposite, or eastern side of the river bank.
Ahead of the bridge’s construction, only the advance detachments of the Syrian army crossed the river with the use of pontoons. Now the main government forces are preparing for mass crossing of the Euphrates.
Finally, the following report shows that the US pull-out has enabled an agreement to be made between the Russian-Syrian side and the Kurdish SDF, which will now, finally, fight as a unit. Previously, the US, fearing losses of US personnel, had refused to fight alongside of the SDF it supported. And since SDF had no support other than American, it has no incentive to negotiate with the Syrian government. But now the terror-fighting SDF has greatly increased the size of its forces, while providing monitoring and supervision to avoid the kinds of abuses described above.
From my previous writings, you all know that I am no fan of Trump. But, whether he knows it or not, his sudden unexpected pull-out has hastened the progress toward a final settlement –partly political and partly military – in Syria.
The below article from Southfront supplies a clue as to a possible reason why the current administration was in such a hurry to exit Syria. Commentary is by Vince Dhimos.
Turkey seems to have substituted Israel as the US proxy-designate on the front lines of the Syrian regime-change war. (For years, Israel had regularly launched missile attacks on Iranian targets in Syria until Russia politely asked them to stop. Or else).
Of course, the anti-Trump Congress made a fuss and many legislators agreed that the surprise pull-out was a bad move. But was this perhaps part of a well-rehearsed show for public consumption? We must back up and consider what the US Establishment hoped to achieve when it entered Syria in the first place. You will recall that by 2011, not only Obama but also major European leaders were shrieking “Assad must go,” while pretending that their main goal in Syria was only to fight terror – which they obviously only pretended to do because the terrorists gained more ground than ever under the US and allied occupation. Then a few months after Russia entered the fray in September 2015, at a moment when the terrorists threatened to push the Syrian army into the sea, the Western shrieking class was forced to tone down the rhetoric a bit, but you can bet they never once backed away from their fond dream of regime change.
I strongly suspect that, at the deepest level of the Deep State, these regime change zealots now see the latest Turkish attacks in Syria (BTW, the Trump Erdogan 5 day ceasefire agreement was already violated within the first 24 hours) as their chance to rid themselves of Assad at last. But why the insane desire to get rid of a popular elected Middle East leader who has never threatened anyone in the West? If you still wonder, then you probably haven’t read our analysis of Washington’s true motivation in foreign policy. Here it is once again, and current events add more proof of its validity.
So now the anti-Assad campaign goes into its next, hopefully last, phase. It is unlikely that Russia will allow Turkey to come anywhere near to Damascus. It is in fact likely it will nip Turkish aspirations in the bud. But don’t worry, you probably will never hear about it in the Western media. (Please be sure to read NEAR-TOTAL NEWS BLACKOUT ON SYRIAN WAR http://www.newsilkstrategies.com/military-affairs/near-total-western-news-blackout-on-syrian-war).
Thus we think Trump probably knew good and well that Turkey would be the next regime change proxy in Syria. So why, you will ask, would almost every Democrat in Washington and even many Republicans, shriek so loudly in protest of Trump’s pull-out? Firstly, the Democrats want to discredit Trump so they can win the 2020 election. Secondly, they need to pretend they care about the Kurds.
Here is the report from Southfront, possibly the only source on this. Please give them a donation if you can. They are the best source for Syrian war news.
TURKISH-FUNDED SYRIAN NATIONAL ARMY AND MYTH OF UNITED SYRIAN OPPOSITION
Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring once again drew wide attention not only to the so-called Kurdish question, but also to attempts of Ankara to create a unified Syrian opposition as an alternative to the Assad government. According to official Turkish statements, the goal of the operation is to secure the southern Turkish border defeating “the terrorism” and allow up to 2 million of refugees to return to their homes. Nonetheless, there are no doubts that the operation, like previous military actions in the provinces of Aleppo, Lattakia and Idlib, will be used by Turkey to expand its own influence.
The Turkish-based Syrian Interim Government headquartered and Turkish-affiliated militant groups would be used as a tool of projecting Turkish military and political influence in the area. The Syrian National Army (SNA) are a brand of militant groups participating in the northeastern Syria offensive. Turkey’s Operations Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield demonstrated that the main goal of such groups is to serve as cannon folder on first line of the battle, while aircraft, battle tanks, artillery and special forces units of the Turkish Armed Forces do the main work. This allows Ankara to pretend that its actions in Syria are not military occupation, but a move needed to return the territory to the moderate Syrian opposition that opposes the ‘illegitimate regime’ of President Bashar al-Assad.
In the area of Greater Idlib, Turkish-backed factions formed the National Front for Liberation in May 2018, which was promoted as a moderate opposition coalition that would limit the influence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked groups. Despite claiming to have 70,000 fighters (sic), the coalition immediately lost a struggle for power to its al-Qaeda counterparts and became a subordinate to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. In 2018 and 2019, groups from the National Front for Liberation repeatedly participated in al-Qaeda operations against the Syrian Army.
In northern Aleppo, Ankara was more successful because the SNA formed in December 2017 operates only in the Turkish Army area of operations and much more depends on the logistical and supply infrastructure created by Turkish special services. Since its creation, the SNA has included 30 groups with lofty names like the Army of Elite or the First Brigade Command and a very few trained personnel. Despite this, the formation, according to different estimates, includes from 15,000 to 25,000 fighters. Its members participated in Operation Olive Branch and successfully continued receiving salaries ($300-400 per month) after it. Now, they are involved in the operation in northeastern Syria.
Just a few days ahead of the start of Operation Peace Spring, Turkey attempted to unite the National Front for Liberation and the Syrian National Army. On October 4, the groups even released a statement claiming that they had merged. A few hours after the release, fierce clashes between the groups erupted over properties seized in the Afrin area. This put an end to the unification efforts at least for now.
Another problem is that the Turkish-based Syrian Interim Government and especially its Defense Ministry have no real influence on SNA detachments because it had no levers of influence over funds, weapons, ammunition or even orders that they receive. The full control over these sides of the SNA life allows Ankara to successfully manipulate them, when these groups are needed to some military action. At the same time, this approach undermines attempts to create a unified command to manage these groups because commanders of these groups are constantly engaged in an internal struggle for control over weapons and money flow from their Turkish backers.
This explains why immediately after the end of the active phase of Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, the SNA dispersed into competing armed groups mostly concerned by looting properties in the seized areas and protecting racketeering of local business and markets. Therefore, the Turkey-controlled part of northern Syria was turned into a safe haven for drugs and weapons trafficking, and organized crime. Turkey’s iron hand once again turned competing gangs into a united force under the SNA brand for Operation Peace Spring. However, as soon as, the active phase of operation ends, the Turkish-controlled part of northeastern Syria will experience consequences similar to those faced by territories captured by Turkish-led forces in 2016-2018.
Vince Dhimos answered a question on Quora. Post-publication comments by Vince.
Don't we associate massive manipulation of news reporting with totalitarian regimes?
There is a near-total Western news blackout on the military actions in Syria, which is evidenced by this Quora question, and which enabled Trump to claim months ago, for example, that he had completely eliminated the terrorists in Syria. It would be interesting to know how many Westerners are wondering how they can trust any Western journalist when all leave such enormous gaps in the reporting on what is possibly the most important conflict in modern history. I say that because the Syrian war marks a turning point at which the US unwillingly – largely through its own abysmal incompetence – relinquishes leadership in the Middle East to Russia.
QUESTION: Why do we never hear about what is happening in Syria? It used to be in the news daily, now rarely. Is Al-Assad still around?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
Answered 11h ago
There is plenty of news daily about Syria, but we are told not to read it. It almost all comes from the Middle East and we are told that Middle Easterners are all Muslims so they would of course not tell the truth (like the US never lies to us). The Western US-aligned nations know that if Westerners knew the truth, they would realize that the US and its allies, especially Israel and Saudi, are involved in shady things in the Middle East. (I posted on this at Quora: https://www.quora.com/Which-of-t...). You would learn that the UN had condemned the Saudi slaughter of Yemenis because of their religion. You would wonder how the US, with its First Amendment that mandates religious neutrality, could support Sunni Wahhabist Saudi, which wages war strictly based on religion, wantonly killing Shiites throughout the Middle East. You’d wonder why Israel is slaughtering Palestinians just for holding protests, and you’d wonder why the US gives both the Saudis and Israel a pass for doing things no other country would be able to do with impunity. But you don’t know why because you read Western sanitized “news" and many Americans think they're getting "balanced" news because they read both leftwing censored news and rightwing censored news, although the problem is that both right and left in America are rabidly pro-war -- which is why Tulsi Gabbard can get no traction in her campaign.
You’d wonder why Russia, Syria and Iran keep having to fight terrorists even after Trump said he had had them all killed, all by himself.
I have to wonder how many people reading this don’t even know that Russia, Iran and Turkey had regular conferences in Astana for years to discuss strategies in the fight against terror, or that there was a de-confliction zone in the province of Idlib but that Turkey and the terrorist organizations were cheating and keeping heavy armoured vehicles and weapons there against the rules.
I could be wrong but I suspect that very few reading this knew that Russia had its own reconciliation centre in Syria to reconcile the rebels with the Syrian government so that things could get back to normal. If people knew this, it would would make them wonder why the US had never thought of doing something this reasonable and sensible instead of pretending that the Syrian government never existed or that Assad is poison when in fact he held the country together through 8 years of war and appears to be emerging victorious. This is the biggest embarrassment of all to the Western warlords.
So the media pretend nothing is happening in the Middle East that is worth reporting.
So what can you do to make up for the deliberate lack of reporting on things that interest you about the Middle East, a place where much of your tax money goes in the interest of “fighting terror”?
Here are some of the only sites that will give you the information you need:
Al Masdar: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز
Middle East Eye: Middle East Eye: News, Opinion, and Analysis
Asia Times: Asia Times | Covering geo-political news and current affairs across Asia
(The latest issue tells us that Trump’s ceasefire was violated in the first 2 hr. You may not find this in Western media)
Southfront: https://southfront.org/ (almost daily Syrian war news. It’s not always well edited because the eye witnesses who bring this news are not journos and do not speak English as their mother tongue and they’re not Ivy League grads, but they can convey the news to you because they experienced it or learned it from sources on the ground, and it is news you can’t get elsewhere. Please support them)
The Saker: The Vineyard of the Saker
Then of course, there is Sputnik and RT, which are being sanctioned, and attempts are being made to ban them in Europe. If you were to read alternate sources like those listed above you would know that a Bulgarian journalist had done her own personal investigation and discovered that the CIA had been secretly sending arms to terrorists in Syria.
That story is here:
Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights
Zero Hedge is also a brave site that dares to report forbidden news of this kind. In view of what the West has done to Julian Assange it is a miracle that any news site dares to present the other side. Of course, there are also slipshod alternate news sites that just sort of wing it, but the ones listed here are trustworthy.
And, yes, Assad is still there.
The internet is abuzz with opinion on Trump’s pull-out from Syria, particularly at this crucial moment when Turkey is threatening the lives of thousands of Kurds, who fought with the US to defeat ISIS. Even some of Trump’s staunchest supporters, for example, some Breitbart forum visitors, are calling Trump a traitor.
The question in most people’s minds around the world is: why did Tump do it and why now? Yes, of course, he had sort of promised to get the US out of Syria and other quagmires, notably Afghanistan, but he stayed in for more than half his first term. Many had given up, believing he would never leave. But now that the Kurds, US former allies, need the US the most, poof!, they are gone and the dreaded Turks are rushing in to fill the vacuum. Meanwhile, Trump and Congress are playing the sanctions game, trying to do with financial measures what normally done with guns. And Erdoğan is thumbing his nose at the US, which he sees as a bevy of weaklings.
Stephen Lendman writes:
“On Monday, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said government troops are preparing ‘to confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory,’ adding:
‘Turkish forces committed massacres against locals, occupied some areas, and destroyed infrastructure.’
“ ‘The Turkish regime forces (and ‘mercenary terrorists’) intensified aerial and artillery bombardment on villages and towns in Hasaka and Raqqa provinces in framework of their aggression on Syrian territory…occupying several towns and villages.’ ”
“On Sunday, SANA cited local sources, saying Turkish terror-bombing killed ‘dozens of people, including foreign journalists,’ adding:
“ ‘A video surfaced showing tens of bodies and injured people, most of them having been mutilated and burned.’ ”
One possible motive for a crafty politician like Trump, as well as his advisers and cronies on the Hill, might be to deliberately pull out at this crucial juncture to conjure up a Turkish-made crisis intended to make the world, especially the Middle East, long for the “good old days” of US occupation. A possible manipulated scenario might find, for example, the Kurds crying for the US to come back and save them.
If that was the motivation behind the untimely pull-out, then it was an egregious error. In fact, the upshot of the American treachery toward the Kurds was that, under the influence of Russian mediation, the Kurds are now finally doing what they should have done from the get go, namely, ally with Assad and Russia and help them apply pressure to force out the US and then Turkey, both of whom were in Syria as illegal trespassers.
But late is better than never, and that is indeed what the Kurds now see themselves obliged to do – or die.
And the irony of it is that now, for the first time, the Kurds are seeing Russia and Syria doing what for years they had hoped in vain that the US would do to protect them.
Indeed, the Russian site avia.pro reports [our translation]:
“An attempt by the Turkish Air Force to strike the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Manbij ended in complete failure for the crews of Turkish F-16 fighters. The reason for this was the appearance in the sky of Russian Su-35 fighters, which intercepted Turkish combat aircraft, preventing the latter from completing their missions.
“At the moment, it remains unknown whether the Turkish Air Force fighters were in Syrian airspace, or were flying inside Turkish airspace; however, this indicates that Russian combat aircraft are ready to confront Turkey, which intends not only to invade the territory of the Arab republic, but is also capable of occupying it.”
This was happening even as the same site was reporting elsewhere that Erdogan had claimed that the Turkish incursion into northern Syria was done with Russia’s blessing – an obvious lie. This statement was apparently made to create the impression that Russia had betrayed Assad. But the fact of Russia’s interception of a Turkish fighter jet speaks louder than Erdoğan’s sleazy words.
For those who were worried about the fate of the Kurds, there is now hope, from people who would have been willing to help them from the very outset. Yet, despite this overwhelming proof of Russia’s wisdom and power, we cannot expect the political class in the US to ever stop slandering and sanctioning the Russians, no matter what they do.
And yet, the Russians have gotten used to this abuse. It will run off them like water off a duck’s back and they will just keep trucking along as before, fully confident, aware of what they are doing and where they are headed. Even as the US keeps stumbling along with no clear plan for the future and no moral anchor, like a goofy cat chasing its tail.
Above: WW II vintage Katryusha rockets in action. Now they're available on steroids.
Below you will find our translation of an article from RIA Novosti with comments and notes [in brackets] by Vince Dhimos.
Russia has a lot of better things to spend its limited budget on than bigger and better weapons. However, GW Bush unilaterally pulled out of the ABM treaty and Trump personally pulled out of the INF treaty. Both treaties had put a ceiling on the capabilities of lethal weapons between Russia and the US.
But the US has this magic printing press that makes money out of paper and ink, and it can sell Treasury bonds to retirees against their will, so money has not been a problem so far.
But that scam is winding down these days with Treasuries at bargain basement interest rates.
Yet, the extravagant spending on US arms has not slowed down to match this.
If the US took serious steps to limit arms in deals with Russia, and if NATO were to tone down its anti-Russian rhetoric and stop holding massive drills on Russia’s doorstep, that country would not be so desperate to design, manufacture and field death machines like the latest Tornado described below. Watching the old WWII films of the Katyusha in action, the rocket system on which the Tornado is based, gives us a hint of what this new improved system can do to NATO troops attempting to invade Russian turf. Why should the Russians worry?
Because a psychopathic NATO general says he is preparing his troops to invade Kaliningrad, the most heavily armed territory in Russia.
National Interest reports:
“The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which lies between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea and is geographically separate from the rest of Russia, practically bristles with S-300 and S-400 air-defence missiles, Oniks anti-ship missiles and Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.
“From Kaliningrad, Russia can threaten NATO aircraft, ships and ground forces for hundreds of miles in all directions.”
“But U.S. forces believe they know how to crack Kaliningrad, Gen Jeff Harrigan, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, told reporters including Breaking Defense’s Sydney Freedberg, Jr. “We train to that,” Harrigian said. “We think through those plans all the time, and… if that would ever come to fruition, we’d be ready to execute.”
So in light of Gen Harrigian’s glib words absurdly portraying Russia as an enemy poised to strike Europe, if Russia keeps developing increasingly lethal arms to kill American and European troops, let’s not show our surprised face.
"Sweeps away all living things." Russian artillery will be reinforced with new weapons
October 2, 2019
MOSCOW, October 2 - RIA Novosti, Nikolai Protopopov. A massive strike, a wall of flames and fragments, and a quick change of position – the Russian army is adopting the Tornado multiple launch rocket systems. The next batch of large-calibre Tornado-S will enter service by the end of 2020. Eventually, new installations will completely replace the aging Grad and Tornadoes. RIA Novosit reports on the unique MLRS [Multiple Launch Rocket System] family.
Flurry of rockets
The Tornado-S is the most powerful and longest-range multiple launch rocket system in the world. It entered service quite recently: the first brigade went into operation at the beginning of this year. Combat launches took place in April at the Kapustin Yar training ground in the Astrakhan Region – single and group missile attacks were carried out on fictional targets.
One installation carries twelve 300-mm missiles. They are individually aimed at targets using an automated fire control system. The operator receives the coordinates of the targets from reconnaissance satellites or drones. This feature distinguishes the new system from its predecessors and even partially raises it into the category of high-precision weapons.
Fragmentation and cumulative-fragmentation shells destroy manpower, equipment and fortifications of the enemy at a distance of up to one hundred and twenty kilometres. Judging by the declared characteristics, the MLRS [Multiple Launch Rocket System] fully lives up to its name. One full salvo of the Tornado-S can be compared with a tactical nuclear strike – a dozen guided missiles sweep away everything over an area of sixty-seven hectares [0.26 square miles, 2.47 acres. This damage is from only one such system. The Russians will deploy several brigades].
The "younger sister" with the letter "G" can release forty 122-mm unguided shells at a distance of forty kilometres. The duration of the volley is twenty seconds. Russian gunners had already used the Tornado-G in Syria. According to the test results, it was decided to strengthen the armour and mine protection, as well as to increase the carrying capacity of the chassis and the engine power.
Three types of ammunition have been developed for this system. The first is a projectile with a detachable high-explosive fragmentation unit, six times the power of the standard Grad multiple-launch rocket launcher. Such "fire arrows" sweep away manpower in open areas and in shelters, destroy trucks and pickups. The second type - cluster warhead with cumulative-fragmentation elements - burns armoured vehicles with an armour thickness of up to 140 millimetres [5.5 inches].
The shells of the third type fly only twenty kilometres, but in the warheads they carry several thousand six- and nine-millimetre impact elements, literally mowing down enemy infantry.
Recall the MLRS "Tornado" - a direct descendant of the legendary BM-13 rocket launchers, popularly nicknamed the "Katyusha." These installations received their baptism of fire in July 1941, destroying in one salvo the manpower and equipment of the Nazis, concentrated at the Orsha railway station in Belarus.
With a second strike, the battery destroyed the crossing of the Orshitsa River with the Wehrmacht troops accumulated on it. Two volleys fired one after the other so stunned the Germans that they temporarily stopped the offensive in this direction.
“Katyushas" were highly manoeuvrable: after making several launches, they quickly changed positions and avoided the enemy’s retaliatory strike. The BM-13 rockets were usually used on the most difficult sections of the front, and the Germans, wanting to get at least one sample for study, started a real hunt for this weapon. To prevent capture, each machine was equipped with a self-detonating device.
The main advantages of rocket artillery over classical artillery have always been considered to be the colossal density of fire and the huge areas of destruction. After World War II, the Soviet army received the second generation of such systems - the BM-21 Grad. The production output of this weapon has been truly massive: more than eight and a half thousand units have left the assembly line.
The armies of more than thirty countries are armed with the Grad (which translates as hailstones); these units participated in many military conflicts. Upgraded versions still form the basis of the Russian army’s rocket artillery. Another type of MLRS - installation the Smerch (meaning hurricane) was a larger-calibre and longer-range analogue of the Grad. It was widely used in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and saw action in the Middle East.
One of the latest developments of domestic gunsmiths - the 300-millimetre systems of the Smerch MLRS – has been included by US military analysts in the list of "the deadliest Russian weapons" along with T-90 tanks, Iskander missile systems and S-400 air defence systems.
The Western approach
In the West, the development of multiple launch rocket systems began much later than in the USSR. Thus, the U.S. Army received the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) only in the early 1980s. Unlike Soviet systems, the American launcher is based on the tracked chassis of the M2 Bradley armoured car. The designers' intent was that such a solution would improve cross-country MLRS mobility, however, as practice has shown, the vehicles have lost a lot of mobility. In addition, caterpillar equipment is more difficult to transfer by aircraft.
The American launcher has no guide tubes, and the 227 mm calibre ammunition is housed in two disposable transport and launch containers of six missiles each. The unguided shells are equipped with cumulative-fragmentation or cluster warheads. In addition, anti-tank ammunition with homing heads has been developed for the MLRS. The range of fire of the MLRS is from thirty to forty kilometres, depending on the type of ammunition. A full salvo of MLRS is fired in one minute.
The arsenal of American gunners also includes another MLRS system – the highly mobile HIMARS. It is mounted on a wheeled chassis, making it more manoeuvrable and compact. The launcher, adopted in 2003, is similar in design to the tracked MLRS. However, there are only six 227 mm calibre missiles in the container. In addition, the machine can accommodate one ATACMS short-range ballistic missile.
The Americans massively used the MLRS for the first time during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. Several hundred MLRS missiles launched tens of thousands of unguided missiles at Iraqi forces. At this time, they were found to be lagging behind the Soviet MLRS models. For example, the American systems often fell short in their range of fire, and the rockets were not powerful enough to effectively destroy armoured vehicles.
REVINCE ON QUORA: WHICH OF THE US GLOBAL INTERVENTIONS WERE PURELY WELL-MOTIVATED?
Which of the USA's global interventions were purely well-motivated?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
Answered 17m ago
Ok, let’s look at the motivations broken down into regions.
Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world
All US-waged wars in the Middle East have been motivated mostly not to defend the US but to please two allies that the US Establishment deems important, namely, Saudi Arabia and Israel. In Saudi’s case the motivation is to prop up the US dollar. (Although in the case of Afghanistan, part of the motivation has been to harass and weaken Russia).
This is explained on Quora here: https://www.quora.com/What-were-...
In Israel’s case, the motivation is threefold:
1 - The holocaust. Americans are compassionate to Jews because of their suffering in Hitler's Germany.
2 - AIPAC, the Israeli-American lobby, which controls elections. As you know, many politicians, mostly Democrats, have accused Russia of interfering with the US elections. But there is very little evidence to accuse Russia of this, and besides, US candidates and their partisans in media spend far more effort and money campaigning for their candidates of choice than any foreign government possibly could. On the other hand, Israel openly and blatantly interferes in the US elections and no one complains. How do they do that? AIPAC does this in two ways: they give generous donations to candidates who declare themselves pro-Israel and discredit candidates who refuse to pledge support to Israel or who show sympathy for Palestine. This blatant meddling gives Israel almost complete control of US foreign policy and much of its domestic policy. Saudi Arabia also helps Israel to control the US because that country has a petrodollar agreement with America that obliges it to comply with the wishes of the Saudi dictatorship. Given that both countries hate and fear Iran, they have had an enormous influence on Trump, who seems to be preparing for a conflict with Iran. See this documentary for further details: https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/...
3. "Christian" Zionism. Non-Americans find it odd that there may be a religious sect that exerts such a huge influence on US foreign policy, but the truth is that about 70-80% of American evangelicals believe that their country should support Israel, and should not care that Israel commits crimes because many of them believe that the Israeli government is guided by God -- even when they violate the Ten Commandments. However, their belief in Israel is actually not aligned with the Bible. They claim that the resurrected Israel prophesied in Ezekiel 37 is the modern secular state of Israel. However, none of them seem to pay attention to verse 24 of that chapter, which says that resurrected Israel will be "obedient to God’s decrees." Unfortunately for them, a survey conducted by WIN/Gallup shows that 65% of Israelis have no religion whatsoever. Furthermore, the IDF's repeated killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza, for example, is contrary to the decree in the book of Leviticus (19:9-18) in the Jewish Torah, which enjoins the Hebrews to love their neighbours as themselves. For these and other reasons, Ezeiel 37 cannot be referring to the Israel of today.
The other location of US-waged wars is outside the Middle East, ie, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, such as Afghanistan
In the case of these wars, the reasons are more complex, but generally, the motivation is to preserve US hegemony. The pretext given for wars during the Cold War, eg, for the disastrously failed war in Vietnam, was the desire to stop the spread of communism. But if this had been a sincere desire, then the attempt shortly after that war to grant communist China Most Favoured Nation Status would not have happened. During the debate in Congress leading up to the granting of this trade status, some members actually stated that free trade with China could offer the benefit of driving a wedge between China and Russia. Since this attempt to institute free trade with China rules out the possibility that the US Establishment wanted to “stop the spread of communism,” this lays bare the true motivation, and that is, the desire to keep Russia under control. Indeed the concept of encircling and hemming in Russia became part of US policy that outlasted the Soviet Union.
Finally, the question mentions not only wars but interventions in general. The most representative case of US non-military intervention was the Maidan coup. There was no stated motivation because the fact that the US State Department, and US NGOs like NED, USAID and a George Soros foundation were involved in wresting control of the Ukrainian government out of the hands of the legitimately and democratically elected president and placing Ukraine in the Western sphere of influence was not stressed in the Western press. The coup was sold as a spontaneous grassroots protest but was clearly instigated and led by the US. It was therefore illegal meddling. The motive was to remove a Russian ally from the Russian sphere of influence. well motivated? The UN has determined that about 3000 civilians have been massacred so far in Donbass by the US-backed regime and the IMF has found that Ukraine is now the poorest country in Europe. Further, to add insult to injury, the US now shows little to no interest in the welfare of the Ukrainian people. Their “aid” is limited to lethal arms that are used to massacre more Ukrainians.
Finally, we would be remiss to omit a commentary on the NATO assault on Sebia. This received detailed commentary at Quora: https://www.quora.com/Why-hasn-t...
Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
Q: WHY ARE THE RUSSIANS SO AFRAID OF THE LATEST CRUISE MISSILE TEST AT SAN NICOLAS ISLAND?
First, let’s look at a response from an American who says he is a defence contractor. I have added notes in brackets as usual for my NSS readers (not in Quora though). First, let me say that the most egregious error that all US agents involved in defence make is the steadfast contention that Russia is the enemy. While Russia is indeed opposed to the US Establishment elites, it is far from being the enemy of humankind. That distinction goes to the Washington elites. Russia has so far prevented 3 major armed conflicts and thereby saved countless lives. It prevented armed attack against the Syrian government, the Venezuelan people and most recently, against the Iranian people. It has also held a belligerent Israel in check at various times by chasing its fighter jets out of Syria.
Matt Hastings, Been a defense contractor for over a decade now
Because it changes everything.
Before, there were limited approaches that a surface launched [he apparently means ship-launched] cruise missile could take, as they all had to come from the sea, which allowed for a more effective and concentrated defense against them. Air launched cruise missiles still had a decent warning time because you probably knew the aircraft were coming.
The game has changed. Places like Iran now have much more airspace to cover against cruise missiles. [that depends on whether the US can find a country near Iran from which to launch its missiles. Qatar and Turkey are both allies of Iran. Saudi would probably fear retaliation if it allowed the US to launch from there. Iraq is already poised to oust the US forces] That means they are going to defend by spreading their defenses thin, spending a lot of money and buy a lot more of them. [Not necessarily. Russia has full coverage radar and also knows where the launch pads are (Poland and Romania at this point in time) and will have a good idea of the potential trajectories of the missiles. It makes no sense to say that they can detect incoming planes but not incoming missiles. Further, Russia has already warned that it will be pre-targeting the known NATO missile sites. Since the calculations were already done, eliminating the sites would be a cake walk. Further, the Russians would be striking with hypersonic missiles like the Kinzhal, which no known system can intercept. The destruction of the targets would be a foregone conclusion. Although the missiles may already have departed by the time of this counter-strike, the knowledge that it is inevitable would be a very effective deterrent to the leaders of those countries, who do not want an attack on their soil. Besides, the S-500 is designed to take out incoming missiles. But Matt seems to be forgetting that, based on the new Russian defence policy, any attack on Russia invites a nuclear war and the risk of annihilating humanity. So what’s the point?]
The problem is that the only defenses with the kind of reaction time needed are inherently short ranged and kinda expensive in relation to how much airspace they can cover. [Not if the S-500 is used (which the author seems not to be aware of). It has a longer range and its radar can detect the incoming missile at the time of launch. These are things that every defence contractor must be aware of. But judging by this author’s hubris, his main thrust is not to marshal facts and present cogent arguments but rather to convince the Western reader that all is well when it is not. And the purpose of this propaganda is to lull the reader into a sense of trust toward his government and its arms suppliers so that the latter can continue to sell arms that the US actually does not need.]
It’s also cost the Russians more money because they had to expedite the development of their new S-350 system to compensate for it. [the S-350 is already tested and in production. Even assuming its development had to be expedited, this would not have cost the Russians significantly more than gradual development according to the planned schedule. Unlike the US, Russia has a modest debt, as I discussed here, and can afford to spend on its arms.]
The time it will take for the US to field the missile
The Russians are actually frightened [I read the Russian language news outlets daily and have never detected any fear from anything I have read. If feel-good propaganda is the goal, then Americans may be put to ease by this post, but propaganda is not supposed to be part of an arms contractor’s job] because we don’t actually have to develop the missile, just a launcher. [This idea of just changing the launchers is exactly that adopted by the Russians. Whose fault is it if the US refuses to read the Russian press? Knowing the “enemy” is supposed to be one of the Pentagon’s jobs] And that’s a lot easier to do, especially if we just have that launcher take all standard Mk41 containers.
Which brings us to:
What the US fielding such a system would mean
The US currently has a massive investment in networked targeting infrastructure. This means that the radar doesn’t have to be right there. [Russia has had radar networking for years. It developed full-coverage radar in 2017. It also uses radar networking in Syria to help keep the pesky Israeli missiles away]
But a launcher that can take any Mk41 containers just made the entire calculus of battle change. Need defense against small Ships, planes and possibly taking out a radar station? Load SM-6’s. [The Russians have had this kind of versatile system for some time now with their Russian-Indian joint development the Brahmos missile: http://www.brahmos.com/content.php?id=10&sid=10]
Think you may have to defend against ballistic missiles? You can load SM-3’s. [Forget defences against ballistic missiles. The Russian Avangard ballistic missile flies at 20 mach and no air defences can intercept it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv_xibIAyZc. Would a defence contractor not know this?]
Short to medium range anti air? Load 4-packs of ESSM’s.
Worried about enemy subs too close to the coast? Load VLASROC’s
And this doesn’t even begin to address the road and air mobile tomahawk launcher pose.
A lot of nations’ entire defense against the US plans just went down the crapper, especially Russia’s and China’s. A full scale war where ground forces can easily take out an air defense radar without risking a plane in the effort severely complicate strategy and neutralizes any advantage that systems like the S-400 may give [this writer apparently has never heard of the revolutionary S-500 system, which has a longer range than the S-400 and can reach outer space. The fact that a defence contractor would fail to mention this is indicative of the level of the Pentagon’s knowledge of its so-called “enemy’s” defences. As for radar, Russia claims it can detect so-called “stealth” aircraft with is longer wavelength radar. China has recently shown at an air show its new quantum radar, which makes “stealth” aircraft completely visible and can even show an image of the aircraft to the operator]. The Pantsyir already has a battered rep with the beating that the Israeli’s gave to their reputation, and this isn’t going to help things [the Pantsir was not defeated and arms buyers know this. It was swarmed in Syria and its ordnance became depleted. Ran out of ammo, that’s all. All air defences can be successfully swarmed if enough incoming missiles enter their zone of detection at the same time. This has happened to the much touted Iron Dome system in Israel as well. The highly efficient Pantsir is still the only air defence system anywhere that uses not only small inexpensive missiles but also cannon fire to stop incoming missiles. It has many times more staying power than any Western system. These are some of the reasons Russia is selling different Pantsir versions, for example, to UAE ] This means increase immunity for helos like the AH-64 Apache to operate as well.
Russia’s biggest military export right now is actually SAM systems, if they are seen as no longer an effective deterrent of any kind, business and cash inflow will plummet [this article on Russian military exports doesn’t mention SAMs, although he may mean the S-400 air defences. Since Russia also sells a dazzling array of aircraft including the Su-35, which rivals the US F-35 and is reputed to be able to defeat that latter in a dog fight due to better manoeuvrability, as well as helicopters, subs, engines, ships, it would be hard to imagine that the bulk of its sales, at least in dollar amounts, would be SAMs. But even so, the missiles of the S-400 will never be obsolete. Long and intermediate range missiles can be taken out by the S-400 just as easily as any other missile or aircraft, so it is hard to understand how this expert opinion is relevant.]
Further destroying the Russian economy [you honestly believe that Russia’s economy could be destroyed by deploying new weapons? And what earthly good would it do the US to destroy Russia’s economy? Wouldn’t it be more productive for the US to focus on building its own economy with its staggering debt? Is this the mentality of US defence contractors? Do they really want to see innocent people suffer? Starving people has nothing to do with defence] and weakening the resolve of certain element of China, especially since land based tomahawks sold to Taiwan would really make main land China’s policies change, as they would be unable to defend against that threat when combined with the other capabilities of the Mk41 launcher. [Just as this expert says that the US could take out Russian radar and air defences with their missiles, China could do likewise to Taiwanese systems – not that this would be desirable. I would hope that a peaceful resolution could be reached between the two Chinas. This is not a military problem but to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail]
Trump just kicked Putin and Russia down the stairs and took their lunch money, because it’s cheaper to be nice to and appease the US than buying the defense equipment necessary to defend against this new threat. [I have to wonder if this author knows much about Russian and Chinese diplomacy. The US is the only nation of the three that is genuinely rude, never nice, toward rival powers!] China now has real issues about their security and the US has to spend very little money to make it all happen. [Russia intends to use the same strategy as the US, ie, converting ship-based missiles to land-based. Does this author really think Russia is too stupid to think of this obvious solution? Putin has already said he will not be suckered into an expensive arms race, but he has also made it clear that, in response to the US pull-out from the INF, Russia will focus on re-tooling the existing longer-range missiles like the Kalibr and Iskander, originally designed for launch on board ships, so that they can be launched from the ground. Further, Putin revealed to the world the new hypersonic Kinzhal missile, which has already been tested and for which no analogue exists anywhere in the world. The benefit of this missile is that it travels so fast that no known system can intercept it. Further, it is intended to be launched from an aircraft and this means it can reach the US mainland. The US has so far not developed anything like it, although work on such a design has long been underway.]
[It might be checkmate if it were not for the fact that Russia and the US have nuclear parity. So if any of the touted US weapons really turned out to be superior – for which there is no indication at this point, just hubris on the part of the US Establishment – then the US would be suicidal to use them against Russia or China because these countries each have enough nukes to destroy the US several times over and they have undetectable arms delivery methods. For example, if the US did manage to knock out Russian air defences and invade the country, Russian subs lurking in all the oceans could still deliver their nuclear weapons throughout the US, destroying all domestic US military bases, and could trigger the so-called Doomsday weapon – a nuclear-armed torpedo – to cause horrific tsunamis on both coasts, wiping out most of the infrastructure in those areas. Also completely ignored in this post was Russia’s near-miraculous electronic warfare systems, which can block the on board communications and missile guidance electronics and obstruct the GPS signals used by enemy pilots. To be fair, if I were a propagandist for US defence, I would not mention these things either]
I just now found and translated an article from RIA Novosti that helps further answer this question.
See if you can detect any of the fear (mentioned in the question) about the new US missile designs in this Russian article. I would also like to point out that Russia has warned countries like Poland and Romania that if the new previously banned missiles are deployed there, their launching sites will automatically become targets. This warning is expected to have political repercussions that may eventually deter the politicians of these countries from allowing their deployment. After all, it is clear that the US wants to use Europe as a buffer, hiding behind the Europeans to keep itself safe. This missile deployment could cause a rift between the countries and the US. Putin has said that he will target not only the countries in which the missiles are deployed but also those that pressured them to deploy. That would be the US and its NATO allies.
Expert tells how Russia can respond to US development of new missiles
Aug 23, 2019
MOSCOW, Aug 23 - RIA News. A possible response to US trials of new missiles previously banned by the INF Treaty will be the creation of a ground version of the Kalibr and the strengthening of the aerospace defense system, chief editor of the magazine Natsionalnaya Oborona Igor Korotchenko told RIA Novosti on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued instructions to analyse the level of threats and prepare a symmetrical response to the US actions.
"The first measure is the adaptation and development of weapons systems that can neutralize Russia's threats from the deployment of US medium-range ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles in the Asian and European theatre. Such work can be implemented in a short time, in particular by creating a ground-based version of Kalibr cruise missiles,“ said Korotchenko.
Putin ordered starting work on the "landing" of the Kalibr and the creation of a medium-range hypersonic ground-based missile back in February, but, as Moscow states, Russia will deploy these systems only in response to similar US steps.
Korotchenko also mentioned as possible retaliatory measures of Moscow, the development and adoption by the Russian Armed Forces of a new medium-range mobile ground-based missile complex, as well as the accelerated implementation of projects such as the Poseidon strategic underwater drones and the Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered cruise missile with with an unlimited range.
In addition, Russia will need to quickly strengthen its aerospace defences based on modern systems, in particular the S-400 and S-500, as well as the Buk-M3 and Tor-M2 air defense systems, the expert believes.
The Tor-M2, as a means of intercepting the outer periphery with an almost absolute probability of destroying targets, should provide cover for the most important groups of Russian troops, as well as the highest-priority facilities of the governmental, military and administrative command and control system. A combination of such measures will allow us to confidently get through this period and are guaranteed to ensure the security of Russia, "said Korotchenko.
The Pentagon recently announced the testing of a land-based cruise missile in non-nuclear armaments, forbidden until now by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) of 1987. The treaty banning missiles in the range of 500 to 5.5 thousand kilometres between Russia and the United States became ineffective on August 2.
Later, the Pentagon confirmed to RIA Novosti that a modification of the Tomahawk cruise missile, designed to destroy ground targets, has been tested.
The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that during the test, the Mk-41 launcher was used (the kind deployed at the American military base in Romania). Moscow regarded this as "a reconfirmation that these installations are designed to launch not only interceptor missiles, but also cruise missiles."
The Pentagon, in turn, stated that the Mk-41 was actually used for the tests, but with a different configuration from the one in Romania.
by Vince Dhimos
The latest news report on the Israeli strikes on Iraq is that Baghdad believes the drone strikes on its territory were launched by Israel from territory controlled by US-backed SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), which received funding for the strikes from Saudi Arabia. As of this writing, I was unable to find any mention of this in the Western press, which is not surprising because, if true, it is a huge embarrassment to the US and could lead to the Iraqi parliament demanding full withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. And since the stated purpose of the US presence is to defend Iraqi “security,” by allowing fighters on territory supposedly controlled by the US to launch an assault on state-authorized Iraqi fighters from there, it loses its pretext for being in the country. The usual Israeli excuse is repeated again, namely, that the strikes targeted Iranian forces. According to Middle East Eye:
“Since July, a series of explosions have hit bases, weapons depots and a convoy belonging to the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF), a grouping of mostly Shia militias with close ties to Iran.”
“A powerful bloc in Iraq's parliament called earlier Monday for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The Fatah Coalition said it holds the United States fully responsible for the alleged Israeli aggression, "which we consider to be a declaration of war on Iraq and its people." The coalition is a parliament bloc representing Iran-backed paramilitary militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.”
Here is why this report, if true, or if never credibly denied, is damaging to the US: The PMF is by no means an exclusively Iranian group, as Israel and the US would have us believe. Its members include Iraqi Shiites and even some Iraqi Sunnis, as well as Christians and Yazidis. Thus, and for the reasons given below, the US-Israel alliance can no longer claim the strike targeted Iranians. Besides, as a Shiite-majority nation, the Iraq people themselves have an intimate religious and cultural bond with Iran and the attempts by Israel and the US to socially engineer Iraq to separate it from Iran are hopelessly naive and will fail, as will the attempts to separate Iran/Hezbollah from Syria and Lebanon.
The whole narrative that Israel (with US blessing) has been attacking only or mostly Iranians/Hezbollah in its numerous routine attacks in Syria and now Iraq – which attacks have now been expanded to Lebanon and Iraq – is, under the present circumstances, problematic at best because
1) The Iranians and Hezbollah are fighting terrorists alongside Syrians and Iraqis and the members of the PMU are inseparable from the entire Shiite Crescent (Iran, Iraq, Alawite-dominated Syria and Lebanon, thanks to Shiite Hezbollah’s strong presence), which is a faith-based brotherhood (it is completely irrelevant that the Iranians are not Arabs).
2) The US/Israel-promoted narrative that the Iranian (para)military and Hezbollah are terrorists is untenable since both are fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq and, needless to say, none of them have joined these terrorist groups – which are, in fact, sponsored and financed by US-ally Saudi and, clandestinely, by the US (this report details why this is so).
3) The US/Israel-promoted narrative that the whole of the Iranian defence forces are a terrorist organization is a futile attempt to convince the world that Iran is an outlaw nation. Europe wants very much to trade with Iran and generally does not believe this narrative. In fact, it wants the JCPOA – unilaterally trashed by Trump — restored. Yet Brexit UK, eager to please Donald Trump, went ahead and illegally seized the Iranian tanker Grace I based on this completely false US-generated narrative that Iran is a terrorist state and, in addition, on the equally false proposition that sending oil to Syria is a violation of an international law – a “law” not approved by the UN but unilaterally cut from whole cloth by the US (and rubber-stamped by the EU), which is, in fact itself a rogue regime that routinely flouts international law. So no, let’s admit that Iran did not violate any legitimate international law even if it had intended to sell oil to Syria. After all, the UN never declared that Syria is to be sanctioned in any way. (Let’s also admit, BTW, that the Brexit movement was not motivated by a quest for “freedom” for the UK. It made the UK an even more obsequious vassal of the US and NATO).
4) The group that was attacked by Israel, ie, Hashd al-Shaabi (People's Mobilization Forces, PMF) was formed by the Iraqi government on 15 June 2014 and, in 2016, a law passed in the Iraqi parliament incorporated the PMU into the country's armed forces. Thus, officially, the PMU cannot be considered an Iranian or Hezbollah organization (despite the presence of any Iranians in its composition) and the strike against it puts the US in a position such that it must either censure Israel – pretending it did not authorize the strike – or stick to the absurd line that the PMU is in fact an Iranian force. This contention will of course be rejected by the Iraqi parliament. Thus, because of this reckless move on Israel’s part, the US armed forces are a step closer to being ousted from Iraq.
Let us recall that, in a recent phone call, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri asked Sergey Lavrov for help with mediation with Israel. But not all the details of that phone call were made public. A recent event suggests that there may have been mention of military help. That event was the expulsion, by Russian Su-35s, of Israeli jets entering Syrian air space for a second attack in Syria last Saturday night. This bold intervention by the Russians thwarted the second attack on Syria and is a strong signal to Israel that further incursions into neighbours’ airspace may no longer be tolerated.
Since Israeli incursions into Syria are typically made by the supposedly “invisible” F-35s, this aircraft may therefore not really be invisible to Russian radar. The Russians have already said their radar can “see” the F-35. This ability of the Russian forces to track the Israeli Fu-35 would be an embarrassment to both Israel and the US and an effective advert for the Russian Su-35 and Russian radar systems. Demand for the overpriced F-35 is waning, with Turkey expressing interest in the Russian counterpart.
On June 25, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev laid a bombshell on John Bolton and Benjamin Netanyahu in their 3-way joint session, saying: “Iran has always been and remains our ally and partner...”
This effectively squelched the idea of an Israeli and/or US strike on Iran and at that point, I think Israel felt it had to make a strong statement, aimed mostly at voters. The strike on Iran/Hezbollah in three different countries (4 if you include Gaza) was such a statement.
But like all Israeli military “statements” of this kind, it is fraught with risk and will have consequences. One of Israel’s problems is that it has relied heavily on the US all its national life and the US had always saved it from the consequences of its own reckless actions. I had discussed with you the statement of a ranking Israeli officer who, in an op-ed, admitted that Israel wanted to drag the US into a hot war with Iran.
The Israeli article of faith that the US would always save Israel from itself was a fatal miscalculation, not because the US has relinquished its desire to aid Israel but because it has lost the war of diplomacy to Russia. Israel has relied heavily on the US to bail it out of scrapes and many Israeli officials still cling to the old notion that it can rely on the US to fight its fights for it. They ignore to their peril the leading role of Russia in the Middle East and America’s loss of trust in the Middle East (as evidenced by the latest Arab Youth Poll).
We need to now shift our focus to Lebanon, where the government has already tried to establish military ties with Russia but has been thwarted by the US, as reported by the Arabic-language site Arabic Post (our translation to be posted soon). Russia may soon attain that coveted game-changing goal.
AOur thanks to Vesti News for this video report on the war in Syria.
You will recall that Trump started tweeting in 2018 that he had defeated ISIS. This was misleading and false in two ways. He was suggesting that ISIS was the only terrorist organization in Syria that threatened peace. In fact, al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda offshoot, later rebranded as Hayat Tahrir as-Sham, was and is doing the same damage and killing innocents just as effectively and prolifically as ISIS, and further, ISIS itself was and is nowhere near defeated.
Briefly a tenuous peace was maintained in Idlib Province, where Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iran had negotiated a de-escalation zone. But the terrorists began violating the zone almost immediately.
Perhaps the biggest assemblage of terrorists in the world, of all stripes and from numerous countries, is now caught in a cauldron in Idlib Province in Syria. See our translation below from RIA Novosti. These terrorists are essentially doomed. They have no way out of the cauldron and those who continue fighting are being destroyed.
So why are we telling you this? Because the news on this latest stage of the war is not fully covered in the West. After all, it is embarrassing since Western msm have been leading their readers to think the Syrian conflict was over. In fact, the reports are mostly biased to lead their audiences to think the Syrians and Russians are nothing but bloodthirsty animals who love to destroy schools and hospitals. However, if you watch the above-linked video and read the subtitles, you will see that in Idlib, schools have been commandeered by terrorists and used as bases. So yes, some of them have been destroyed since they were no longer schools at all.
Idlib cauldron. What will give Assad’s army control over Khan Sheikhun?
Aug 22, 2019
MOSCOW, Aug 22 - RIA Novosti, Andrey Kots. The Syrian Arab Army, with the support of Russian aviation, surrounded the city of Khan Sheikhoun, the largest stronghold of militants in the south of Idlib province. This is the result of a large-scale military operation by Damascus in response to a violation of the ceasefire. The Syrian army took control of the Damascus-Aleppo highway, cutting off terrorists from supplies. RIA Novosti reports on what happened and how events will develop further.
A ceasefire in the province of Idlib was announced on August 2. However, the militants of the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham [a rebranding of Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra] coalition ignored this. By August 4, the Russian military recorded 20 shelling settlements in the Idlib de-escalation zone. In response, on August 5, the command of the Syrian Armed Forces resumed operations against the terrorists.
On August 7, the Syrian army regained control of the city of Arbain in the northwest bordering the Idlib province of Hama and eliminated 45 militants. Major General Alexei Bakin, head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria, noted a sharp aggravation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, reporting 42 shellings per day by illegal armed groups. The next day, two Syrian troops were killed and 13 were injured from gunfire.
On August 9, terrorists launched a counterattack in Idlib province, attacking positions of government forces in the area of Abu Dali. Ten Syrian soldiers were killed, and more than 20 people were injured. After retreating, the militants fired on the outskirts of the city with multiple launch rocket systems. On August 10, the Syrian army liberated several villages from the militants on the border of the provinces of Hama and Idlib, knocking out Jabhat-an-Nusra terrorists. The military encircled Al-Hubayt, which occupies a strategic position in the south of Idlib.
Major General Bakin reported that the militants had continued to build up forces in the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone. The terrorists deployed about 470 fighters and military equipment there. The al-Watan newspaper reported on August 11 that the Syrian army had liberated the city of al-Hubayt, inflicting significant damage to Jabhat al-Nusra militants in terms of equipment and manpower. The remnants of the terrorists retreated to Khan Sheikhoun. In two days of fighting, 23 Syrian troops were killed.
SAA continued its movement towards Khan Sheikhun. On August 14, the army took control of the villages of Kafr Ain and Aas, as well as Tell Aas [Aas hill] in the south of Idlib province east of the city of al-Hubayt. That day, the militants managed to bring down a Syrian Air Force fighter-bomber in Idlib. The pilot catapulted and was captured. On August 16, the army liberated four more villages in the south of the province.
Soon, the SAA completed the encirclement of Khan Sheikhun. On August 19, a convoy of Turkish armoured vehicles crossed the Syrian border and advanced towards the besieged city – probably to help Ankara-controlled groups in the province. A military convoy attacked the Syrian Air Force. The column stopped.
“Turkey has its own interests in the Syrian conflict, in particular in the Idlib zone,” Boris Dolgov, senior researcher at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, explained to RIA Novosti. “Turkey is still not fully complying with the Sochi memorandum. The Turks continue to operate in "their own interests in the Idlib zone. And their interests are the preservation of armed Islamist groups, which Ankara considers moderate and which rely on the support of Turkey."
The successes of the Syrian Arab army have already elicited a nervous reaction of the United States. Morgan Ortagus, a State Department spokeswoman, said Tuesday that Bashar al-Assad’s government and its allies should return to a ceasefire in Idlib.
"Today's unacceptable air strike on the Turkish convoy followed ongoing brutal attacks on civilians, humanitarian workers and infrastructure. [the Turks entered Syria illegally, in fact. As for attacks on civilians, the worst such attack was conducted in the bombing of Raqqa by the US, so the US authorities are just being their hypocritical selves] We condemn this violence and it must be stopped," Ortagus emphasized. [Statements like this are displays of US impotence. They can do nothing]
Victory coming soon?
The capture of Khan Sheikhun will seriously strengthen the position of the Syrian Arab army in the south of Idlib province. This will allow the militants to be locked in a cauldron in the neighbouring settlements of Latamna, Murek and Kafr Zeit and will create the prerequisites for a further offensive into the last governorate in Syria, which remains under the control of terrorists.
“Today, Syria is building its future with hope, but terrorist organizations that are banned in many countries of the world continue not only to exist there, but also to resist,” Andrei Koshkin, head of the Plekhanov Russian Political Science and Sociology department, said on the air of Sputnik radio. Government forces of the SAR [Syrian Arab Republic] are quite successfully clearing the territory, and by now they are blocking many groups, cutting off their supply routes for ammunition, depriving them of means of subsistence. I think this is an omen of victory for the time when government troops can completely clear the territory of Syria from terrorists."
It is worth noting that in the province of Idlib, many immigrants from the former republics of the USSR and some Russian regions are fighting on the side of the militants. To prevent them from returning home after the victory of the SAA is an important task for Russia.
President Vladimir Putin, in anticipation of a meeting with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, called the possibility of their transfer to other regions of the world a great danger.
Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora. Bracketed items were added after posting at Quora.
Question: What would happen if Iran and Russia formed a military alliance?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
What do you mean “would happen”?
The alliance is already in place.
Title: Asia Times | Attack on Iran would be an attack on Russia | Article
“What Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said at the recent, historic trilateral alongside White House national security adviser John Bolton and Israeli National Security Council Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat in Jerusalem should be unmistakable:
“Iran has always been and remains our ally and partner, with which we are consistently developing relations both on a bilateral basis and within multilateral formats.” [Vince’s highlighting]
This lays to rest endless, baseless speculation that Moscow is “betraying” Tehran on multiple fronts, from the all-out economic war unleashed by the Donald Trump administration to the resolution of the Syrian tragedy.”
[Shortly after Russia entered the fray in Syria, US and aligned media started alleging that Putin was about to betray Assad. The reasons for this presumption were silly – the fact that there had been no meetings between the 2 leaders for some time, Putin’s posture during one of their meetings, etc. It was nothing but the usual Western lies. Then Putin was supposedly about to betray Rouhani. No solid evidence, just wishful thinking on the part of the mentally unbalanced fiction writers in US media. And are you ready for this? Russia and Iran are planning joint military drills in various waterways, including the Srait of Hormuz, as reported in the US publication The National Interest and Newsweek! Still reading only US and European media? I have friends who tell me they think they are getting balanced news because they read both Democrat and Republican newspapers. OMG! Sorry, folks, both parties constitute the War Party. Did you really think you could achieve balance by absorbing pro-war news from the Democrats and pro-war news from the Republicans? At least supplement your news feeds with non-US-aligned media like Southfront, Asia Times, Fars News, Tehran Times, SANA, Al-Masdar, Russian sites like RT and Sputnik and others, including, of course, New Silk Strategies. Southfront and Al-Masdar will keep you up to date on the progress made by the Russians and Syrians in the fight against ISIS and the many rebrandings of al-Qaeda, ie, the terrorists that Trump had bragged many months ago that he had defeated all by himself – Vince.]