1. Unless the US Joint Chiefs of Staff are once again "off the reservation" and talking to the Russians behind the backs of the Obamanites, I don't think there is much effective coordination between the US and Russia over Syria other than the flight de-confliction regime.
2. The flight de-confliction regime works well. We haven't shot each other down yet, so ... We now have the USS Harry Truman battle group standing inshore off Syria to launch attacks in Syria and Iraq. This very likely requires passage through Russian controlled airspace within their air defense umbrella. So ...
3. Raqqa will be heavily defended. IS cannot afford to give the place up. There are probably quite a few Arab Sunni "civilians" there who support IS. That has proven to be true at Fallujah. As the R+6 force proceeds after the taking of Tabqa air base, resistance will get stiffer and stiffer. We will see how well they do against that. We will also see if the "Syrian Democratic Forces" really wants to sacrifice a great deal to capture this large city. Their American "minders" are urging them forward, but, we will see ...
4. The Russians evidently thought they could make an honest deal with Kerry/Obama. Well, they were wrong. The US-supported jihadis associated with Nusra (several groups) merely "pocketed" the truce as an opportunity to re-fit, re-supply and re-position forces. The US must have been complicit in this ruse. Perhaps the Russians have learned from this experience.
5. In the "truce" the Turks, presumably with the agreement of the US, brought 6,000 men north out of the non-IS jihadi defended area along the Turkish border. This is the area around Azaz and to the east. They trucked them around and brought them through Hatay Province in Turkey to be sent back into the Aleppo Province and to the city of Aleppo itself. These men have been used in capturing Khan Touman southwest of the city and in driving the YPG Kurds out of the part of the city that they held. It will cost a lot of men to restore these situations. Someone said to me that the border crossings from Hatay are under surveillance. Well, so what! That does not prevent the Turks supplying the jihadis through these crossing points.
6. The same someone said that the result of the "cease-fire" positions Putin well in peace negotiations. Yawn! As I have said repeatedly, most sensible people know that you have to win on the battlefield unless you are Kerry and the girls at the WH. There will now be more blood rather than less because of the Kerry/Obama attempt at cleverness.
7. In a wonderfully clear proof of an absence of coordination between IS and the al-Qaeda linked groups (Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, etc.) IS launched a major offensive into the area from which the Turks removed the 6,000 men now in the Aleppo area. IS has now taken most of that area and are nearly at the gates of the town of Azaz.
Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.
Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam.
Reprinted with permission from Sic Semper Tyrannis blog.