Thomas Wictor

Believe nothing you’re hearing about Syria

Believe nothing you’re hearing about Syria

Let me reiterate: Everything I say in my posts is speculation based almost entirely on knowledge of munitions, weapons, military training, and the ways in which armed forces fight. You don’t have to believe a word I write. On the other hand, I recommend that you also not believe a word that you’re hearing from “reputable” sources such as Reuters.

The powerful Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and its local allies have drawn up plans for a major attack to seize the final stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border held by Islamic State fighters, a YPG source familiar with the plan said on Thursday.

Such an offensive could deprive Islamic State fighters of a logistical route that has been used by the group to bring in supplies and foreign recruits. But it could lead to confrontation with Turkey, which is fighting against its own Kurdish insurgents and sees the Syrian Kurds as an enemy.

Other Syrian insurgent groups control the frontier further west, leaving only around 100 km (60 miles) of border in the hands of Islamic State fighters, running from the town of Jarablus on the bank of the Euphrates west to near the town of Azaz.

But Turkey says it will not allow the Syrian Kurds to move west of the Euphrates.

The source confirmed a report on Kurdish news website Xeber24 which cited a senior YPG leader saying the plan includes crossing the Euphrates to attack the Islamic State-held towns of Jarablus and Manbij, in addition to Azaz, which is held by other insurgent groups.

The source did not give a planned date, but said a Jan. 29 date mentioned in the Xeber24 report might not be accurate.

Actually, if the Kurds who are currently east of the Euphrates cross into the west, it’ll lead to war with Turkey. The offensive was supposed to already have begun, but as I write this, I see no sign of it.

This is the area we’re talking about.



Will the Syrian Kurds cross the Euphrates River into the west? I don’t think so. They’ll be immediately shelled by Turkish 155mm self-propelled howitzers.


The Turks are providing precision artillery support for Jaysh al-Thuwar, an Arab component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD) that launched the Manbij offensive on January 6, 2016.


Jaysh al-Thuwar has a contingent of professional special forces attached.



The man above is either Afro-Arab or African. Thousands of African special operators disappeared into Saudi Arabia in 2015. What I think is happening is that the professionals are spearheading the attacks, while the militias provide support and then rightfully and accurately claim responsibility for the victories. The professionals are simply assisting. When the QSD says that it took Tishreen Dam, this is 100 percent true. The professionals are allies who are fighting for the QSD, not the Arab League or the African Union.

Here’s why you shouldn’t believe anything

We were told that the Syrian opposition would not attend the peace talks in Geneva. Well, today’s news is different.

The main Syrian opposition group of the Higher Negotiating Committee (HNC) agreed on Friday to participate in the Geneva-based Syrian peace talks after receiving assurances from the United Nations on humanitarian issues.

The HNC said in a statement it was boycotting the talks until it received an official response from the United Nations about a list of concerns.

“The High Negotiations Committee (HNC) decided to participate in the Geneva talks after receiving American and United Nations guarantees,” al-Hadath channel quoted the HNC statement as saying.

They waited until the last second, because this is the Syrian civil war.

(Where’d the eggs and pool cues go, Erich?)

Every single actor in Syria—Assad, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, the Kurds, the Turks, the Turkmens, the Christians, and the Sunni Muslim Arabs—has a spinning plate or bowl. The UN is incapable of solving this problem, as it immediately proved at the peace talks.

The U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, released a video message to the Syrian people ahead of the talks. Reaction to the video — which notably was delivered in English without Arabic subtitles — reveals some of the difficulties of the process.

“We count on you to raise your voice. To say, ‘Khalas, it’s enough.'”

In response, activist Razan Ghazzawi said in a Facebook post that de Mistura is essentially telling the Syrian people what they should say:

“He’s asking them to say ‘enough!’ as if they hadn’t been doing so daily for the past 5 years. de Mistura is asking the people — who have been living with [President Bashar] Assad’s bombs and [Islamic State] chains — to resist all parties’ violence as if it is up to her or him in the first place.”

Another reply.



The reason that de Mistura fouled up is twofold: He’s a westerner, and he’s a diplomat-bureaucrat. None of this is real to him. He’s playacting, the way the entire UN does. When I was a child, I put on my father’s hard hat and pretended to be an oil worker.


Eventually I grew up. Western diplomats have become eternal children who believe in magic.

One of most brilliant people who ever lived was the comedian Will Rogers.


“Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock,” he said.

Rogers was a realist, and so are the people fighting in Syria. They have to negotiate from positions of strength. We used to know that, until we became confused and decadent. The only way the war in Syria will end is if someone is militarily defeated.

What can you believe?

Two stories from Syria, published the same day.

Number one.

Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) bombed on Friday a security checkpoint for forces loyal to president Basahr al-Assad in Syria’s Aleppo, killing and wounding a number of security troops.

At least four pro-Assad security members were killed and seven others injured under mortar shells fired by the YPG fighters in Aleppo.

The YPG leadership said in a statement that the operation comes in response to Syrian airstrikes that hit the Kurdish-populated district of Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo.

On Wednesday, the Syrian regime’s air force hit Sheikh Maqsoud district with several barrel bombs, killing and wounding a number of civilians.

The YPG has repeatedly clashed with Islamist fighters of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front in the vicinity of Sheikh Maqsoud, as the Kurdish forces have been trying to defend the district against al-Qaeda offensives. This was the first time that the Syrian air force hit the Sheikh Maqsoud district with barrel bombs.

YPG units in Aleppo fight Islamists, the same enemy attacking Assad. Today Assad bombed the Kurds with these indiscriminate weapons.

Story number two: As Assad was bombing the Kurds who fight the al-Nusra Front in Aleppo, here’s what was happening nearby.

Backed by Islamist rebels of Ahrar al-Sham, militant fighters of the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, al-Nusra Front, reported new gains against forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the northern Aleppo province.

Nusra militants and allied rebels of Ahrar al-Sham hit positions of the Syrian army in the southern countryside of Aleppo on Friday, forcing the latter to withdraw from the strategic town of Blouziya.

Mustafa Sulaiman, a spokesman for the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front in Aleppo, told ARA News that their fighters stormed headquarters of the pro-Assad troops in Blouziya after hitting their fighting positions with heavy artillery shelling.

“Our rebels were eventually able to capture the town of Blouziya, which was one of the most strategic strongholds for the pro-Assad militias in southern Aleppo. The town has for long served as a supply route for Assad army between Hama and Aleppo,” Sulaiman said.

The Qaeda spokesman added in an exclusive interview with ARA News that more than 15 pro-Assad soldiers were killed in the clashes in the vicinity of Blouziya.

“Assad army was supported by Shia militias of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Najbaa. We have taken several Shia militants as hostages subsequent to freeing the town,” he said.

It’s a mess of staggering proportions.

And did you know that the Kurdish YPG is a conscript army?

The PYD militia, unable to recruit enough volunteers, began military conscription in Rojava in 2014, requiring most males over nineteen to serve six months. The PYD also has created a volunteer, all-woman militia.

The conscription “is very strict and hard to avoid,” says Ali. Draft-eligible men might be seized at checkpoints or in house raids, a practice long used by the Syrian army.

Six months is nowhere near long enough to acquire the skills needed to achieve the spectacular victories that the QSD is racking up. It’s more circumstantial evidence that professionals are leading the assaults. Also, if young Syrian Kurdish men are reluctant to serve, what does that tell you about the alleged Kurdish plan to gobble up land and go to war with Turkey?

Don’t believe anything until after it’s happened. Watch this video of the fighting around Tishreen Dam.

At very beginning and at 4:29 to 4:34 are the unmistakable freight-train sounds of incoming artillery rounds. That was Turkish fire. Compare that roaring noise with the dropping of the guided aerial munition.


All the groves of trees are on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.


Therefore it appears that Turkey provided artillery support for Kurds. That is tectonic change you can believe in.

If—in the next few days—you’re told that the YPG crossed the Euphrates, and Turkey responded by invading northern Syria, it may not be what it seems. Everyone who we should support in this war is a master of deception. So don’t believe people who say that all is lost.

What happens next may be part of a plan that simply can’t be revealed.

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