The Watchman On The Wall

The Watchman On The Wall
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Verse 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Middle East Report Nov. 13, 2015

After the downing of the Russian airliner over Sinai on Oct. 31, Moscow moved into positon to lead the offensive against the Islamic State in Syria. The Russian air force transferred a large number of assault helicopters out of its enclave in Latakia province over to two Syrian air bases east of Homs on the front lines against ISIS. From the  (Tiyas) and Shayrat Airbases, the Russian command will lead the battle against the Islamic State over Homs, a city of one million inhabitants and the hub of central-eastern Syria. As the Russians move over from air strikes to the offensive against ISIS, they know their combat helicopters are now exposed to being shot down.
Homs came under direct threat on Nov. 1, when Islamic State forces captured the village of Mahin south of the city, cutting down the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Syrian army and Hizbollah forces standing in their path and inflicting heavy casualties. Control of Mahin opened the way for ISIS and Syrian rebels to reach the southern suburbs of Homs and seize control of the strategic M5 Highway linking the city to Damascus.

Another group of Russian combat helicopters is now deployed at Hama Military Airport to block off the offensive ISIS and the Nusra Front are preparing to launch in the northern Idlib Province. There too jihadist forces have made advances. On Nov. 5, they snatched from the Syrian army the strategic town of Murek (see map above, look for a Syrian tank battalion on rte. 5) which commands the routes from the north to central Syria.
According to intelligence reports from southern Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, more Russian combat helicopter units are under orders to stand ready for transfer to Syria. Moscow is evidently preparing to take over from the Iranians, the Syrians and Hizballah the heavy-lifting of the war to stop further ISIS advances. More helicopters are needed to support this offensive if it is to go forward on all fronts.
My intelligence sources report Russian “volunteer” units getting organized for departure to Syria from southern Russia and eastern Ukraine, detached from fighting alongside pro-Moscow separatists.
Their arrival in Syria would deepen Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian conflict and also mark its first participation in ground combat, contradicting President Vladimir Putin’s earlier pledge against putting Russian boots on the ground in Syria.
While intensifying the war on ISIS, the Kremlin is also pushing forward its plan for a political solution of the Syrian crisis, to be discussed at the forthcoming multinational conference in Vienna.
Tuesday, Nov. 10, a number of Western media claimed to “reveal” some of its key points of Russia’s Syrian Peace Plan:
1. Russia and Washington will draw up an agreed “target list” of parties standing out against a political resolution of the conflict. They are to be attacked jointly by US and allies and Russian forces. The proposal does not go into the nature of a bilateral mechanism for determining who figures on the “target list.” Moscow would really prefer the Russian and the US-led coalition air forces not to confine their attacks to ISIS, but extend them also to Syrian rebel groups. Russia could then refute US and NATO allegations that only one out of every nine Russian air strikes is directed against an ISIS target, with the majority aimed at Syrian rebel groups.
The Obama administration did not reject a priori the proposed US-Russian air force collaboration in Syria and Iraq, but requested additional clarifications from Moscow.
2. Moscow proposes an immediate cease-fire on all Syrian army-rebel warfronts. The proposal does not say if it should apply to the foreign forces fighting in the country, such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hizballah, the pro-Iranian militias and the Russians themselves.
3. Once the cease-fire goes into effect, all the parties and organizations involved in the war will be convened for a national dialogue. This round-table conference will have three main goals:
A. Release of all prisoners and hostages held by the various sides.
B. Preparation of parliamentary and presidential elections with a general amnesty for political prisoners.
C. Establishment of a new government committed to implementing agreed constitutional reforms that center on the transfer of presidential powers from Assad to the designated prime minister.
In other words, Assad will not be made to step down as president at once, but will have to give up his presidential powers, including control of the military and intelligence services.
It is assumed that Putin put this clause before the Syrian ruler in Moscow as a diktat he had no choice but to accept.
4. The Russian president offers a personal guarantee that Assad will not be permitted to run for president in the coming elections, but he has accepted the Syrian ruler’s proviso that members of his family and ruling caste will be eligible for election.
5. All the rebel groups and militias that take part in implementing the Russian plan will be absorbed into Syria’s military or other security services and place themselves under their orders.
6. Governments and other bodies outside Syria will undertake to halt weapons supplies to all combatant forces. This provision applies not only to the US and Saudi Arabia with regard to rebel groups, but also to Russia and Iran as sponsors of the Syrian army.
7.  Russia will continue to maintain military force in Syria as security for the agreement’s full implementation, contingent on UN Security Council endorsement of its presence. 
 Image result for total number of ISIS fighters
There are 80,000 ISIS fighters, only 30,000 are in Iraq and all the rest are in Syria. The 30,000 foreigners who have joined the terrorist organization include 7,000 citizens of former Soviet states as well as citizens from Western European countries, North America and Australia. Yevgeny Sysoyev, deputy head of the FSB, Russia's internal security service, said ISIS is estimated to be in control of 40 percent of Iraq and 50 percent of Syria.
Image result for israeli supreme court building
Israel's Supreme Court, pictured above, on Thursday turned down an appeal against the destruction of the homes of terrorists who murdered Israelis, saying eight of the nine homes in question could be destroyed. The homes belong to the families of the terrorists who murdered Na'ama and Eitan Vaknin, Malachi Rozenfeld and Danny Gonen. The court ruled that the house of one of the terrorists who murdered Rozenfeld should not be destroyed because of the weak link between the terrorist and the other residents of the building. The judges criticized the state over its long delays in carrying out the orders for destruction of the houses, compared to the very short amount of time that the court was given because of Prime Minister Netanyahu's push for a quick verdict. 
Image result for Peshmerga attack Sinjar
About 7,500 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, backed by US air power, launched an attack on the Iraqi city of Sinjar on Thursday morning an effort to retake the city, located close to the Syrian border, from ISIS. The ground assault is being carried out by two Kurdish groups and the Yazidi militia. A previous attack on Sinjar in December 2014 failed. Besides the goal of retaking all of Mt. Sinjar and the city, which lies in ruin, the main goal of the attack is control of Route 47 that connects the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar with the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. Raqqa is the ISIS capitol. If the Kurds succeed in taking control of a part of the route they will be able to sever the link between the two ISIS capitals, Raqqa and the Iraqi city of Mosul, and prevent the terrorist organization from sending forces from Syria to Iraq and vice versa. If the Kurds succeed in cutting off the route it will be the most serious blow suffered by ISIS this year. The campaign may last months since winter has already begun in northern Iraq and Syria, and it is only a matter of time until the entire area in both countries is covered with snow that will apparently halt the Kurdish attack until sometime in spring 2016.  
Despite the US air support, it seems unlikely that the Peshmerga will be able to achieve a quick victory.
On another front in Iraq, the Peshmerga, also with US air support, have been trying for nearly six months to uproot ISIS from its positions around the strategic oil refining city of Kirkuk, but without success.  
Image result for vladimir putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the program for modernizing his country's military does not mean that Moscow is gearing up for an arms race. At a Russian defense industry conference in the capital, he said the industry is being compensated for years of neglect following the end of Soviet Union. He also said Russia should aspire to manufacture all of its military systems independently and not be dependent on imports and foreign arms manufacturers.    

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