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Conflicting Stories On What Really Happened In Ramadi

Next Cold War Roundup 12/30/15

Ramadi, Iraq

Map of Anti-ISIS Operations in Syria and Iraq from Dept of Defense briefing 12-29-15

Map of Anti-ISIS Operations in Syria and Iraq from Dept of Defense briefing 12-29-15

_ More details are coming out about how Ramadi was reclaimed by Iraqi forces and US coalition.  The reports coming from the US  and the reports coming from Iraqi government sources are very different.

_ More than one source reports that ISIS mainly withdrew from Ramadi. Up to 500 ISIS fighters (reported numbers vary) remained in the Ramadi government complex that Iraqi forces fought to reclaim. 60% of Ramadi is now under the control of Iraqi forces who are expected to take the remaining 40% within two weeks as they deal with IEDs, other explosives left by ISIS, and random attacks they encounter.  An Iraqi officer said that 80% of the work was done by US coalition airstrikes and US military spokesman Col. Steve Warren agreed with this.

_ Warren said there were no US troops involved in the fight in Ramadi except in support and advisory roles from a remote location.  He said there were no Shia militias involved, and that Sunni tribal forces did not play a significant role but are being trained and “cycled” through for stabilization efforts.

From FT article:

“The Iraqi forces entered the complex […] and did not face any opposition from Isis. This shows that Isis withdrew to the north-east of Ramadi,” said Sajad Jiyad, an Iraq analyst.

_ From Sic Semper Tyrannis:

The Borgist press is, of course, trying to make Iraqi government control of Ramadi sound like a great victory.  In fact IS withdrew from the place leaving behind 300-500 men to make life difficult.  It took 10,000 men and a mass of air power to overcome this minimal resistance.  Let’s see what happens next

_ From Elijah Magnier of Al Rai Media (English) (Arabic) who also says the US is implementing big changes in the Iraqi military to create a “homogeneous team that is friendly to its policy and presence of these (US forces) on the ground in Iraq”:

“Iraqi Army, the Counter Terrorism units, the Federal police, and Anbar tribes entered the city of Ramadi that was occupied by the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ group (ISIS) for several months. To their biggest surprise, only few bodies of the terrorist group were found […] Six ISIS were arrested while trying to flee Ramadi among the 442 civilians who left the city one day before the final assault on the city center.”

“The same phenomena of ‘ISIS evaporation’ was registered in Sinjar when 7500 Kurds, supported by the U.S Air Force, occupied the key northern Iraqi city, finding a very small number of ISIS fighters in it.”

[…]

“A high-ranking source within the Iraqi government told me […] It is not unlikely for a possible American – Turkish coordination to communicate with ‘ISIS’ and give a free way out to fighters to withdraw in the direction of the Syrian – Iraqi borders. That’s the information our drones collected in the last few days prior the attack of Ramadi. Our signal and Human Intelligence informed the Americans and us about ISIS movement of troops. We were not allowed to engage against these and no one in the government can contradict the Americans for the moment. The U.S ordered Baghdad to keep al-Hashd al-Sha’bi (PMUs) away from the battlefield of Anbar perhaps to ensure a free passage to ISIS and to reduce the Iranian influence and credit of victories in Iraq”.

_ From Dept of Defense briefing 12/29/15 (transcript), Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Steve Warren:

Warren: “There were no US ground forces involved in any way, shape or form in the fight for Ramadi. There were no Apache helicopters. There were no attack helicopters of any type. The only coalition, the only US involvement in the fight for Ramadi has been the delivery of air power and the training of Iraqi soldiers and advising and assisting the Iraqi security forces from their headquarters in Al Taqaddum.  That’s it.

[…]

Warren: “We saw — we saw real hard fighting, but it was ineffective, right?  I mean, the Iraqi security forces had, you know, the unparalleled ability of the coalition air to place pressure on this enemy and to suppress them.  The CTS in this case, they’re becoming much more well trained and they’re experienced now.  So they know how to fight.  So really, this was — in this case, frankly, it was overmatch.  And — and the ISIL forces simply couldn’t — couldn’t withstand the pressure.”

[…]

Q: […] “Why didn’t ISIL put up as big of a fight?”

Warren: “I’ll tell you why, because they’re not 10 feet tall.  These guys are not that tough.  They’re not any tougher than any other — any other fighter out there.  And when — when — when — when Iraqi security forces or any other force is able to mass combat power, using the fundamentals of warfare to bring pressure to bear on this enemy, they will crack and they will collapse.”

 

 

Syria

Syria map with Zabadani, Kafarya and Fuaa highlighted

Syria map with Zabadani, Kafarya and Fuaa highlighted

_ Another UN and Red Cross administered ceasefire/safe passage deal was implemented for three towns — Zabadani, “the last rebel bastion on Syria’s border with Lebanon” and “Fuaa and Kafraya, the last two government-held Shiite villages in northwestern Idlib province.”  Fighters and civilians were evacuated and many other civilians remained.  Sunni rebel fighters went to Turkey via Beirut and pro-government Shiite fighters and civilians went to Beirut via Turkey after which they can settle in other government held areas of Syria while the Syrian government restores control.  Both of the areas involved in the truce were previously under siege.

Under the next stage, trucks loaded with humanitarian goods and basic foodstuffs will be allowed through in the next few days to reach thousands of civilians still trapped, Yacoub El Hilo, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Syria, told reporters.

_ Another truce/safe passage  deal for the ISIS and rebel held Yarmouk refugee camp was supposed to be implemented last week but after rebel leadership of Jaysh al Islam (including Zahran Alloush) were killed in airstrikes was put on hold.

Panorama of the Golan Heights, with the Hermon mountains

Panorama of the Golan Heights, with the Hermon mountains (by Beivushtang Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons)

Stephen Zunes 12/16/15 interview on the Scott Horton Show on Israel, Syria and regime change:

“In 2007 Condi Rice in 2007 called the Israeli leadership and said ‘don’t even think about it. Don’t make peace with Assad’. And Shimon Peres, the Israeli president acknowledged that it was U.S. opposition that led the divided cabinet to vote against resuming negotiations with Assad, saying that the United States is virtually our only friend nowadays and we don’t want to upset them by doing something they don’t want like negotiating with the Syrians.”

“Why did the United States not want them to negotiate with the Syrians? Because if Assad had gotten the Golan back, which is a *big* issue that Syrians across the ideological and sectarian spectrum feel strongly about, it would strengthen Assad’s rule, and we did not want that. We wanted to undermine Assad’s rule. We wanted regime change.”

_ Syrian army and allied forces moving in on Maheen, southeastern Homs: “On Tuesday morning, the Syrian Arab Army’s 120th Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division – in coordination with the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) of Sadad – imposed full control over the strategic mountaintop overlooking Maheen, leaving ISIS in a vulnerable position inside the town.”

 Turkey

_ Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu seems to have taken on the role of Baghdad Bob as he denies that Kurdish forces have crossed over to the western side of the Euphrates in Syria. “Davutoğlu said the government’s current information showed that the groups that crossed the Euphrates over the weekend were Arab rebels, not Kurdish militia forces.”

 

_ More evidence that Turkey supports ISIS in these reports of ISIS members moving freely in various Turkish cities

_ Turkish govt “anti-terrorist” operation in southeastern Turkey against Kurds continues

_ A Czech freelance journalist has summarized Erdogan and his family’s alleged “illicit collaboration with Daesh” which includes his daughter Sumeyye running a covert hospital for ISIS militants, training camps in Konya province, his son Bilal’s involvement in oil smuggling operations, and the latest accusation by an Erdogan foe in Italy, Murat Hakan Uzan, that the son (who attends American Institute in Bologna, Italy) is laundering money there.  Uzan has demanded that Italian legal authorities conduct an investigation.

 

US Navy

USS Harry S. Truman, 2003 (US Navy, Licensed under Public Domain via Commons)

USS Harry S. Truman, 2003 (US Navy, Licensed under Public Domain via Commons)

_ The USS Harry S. Truman entered the Mediterranean on December 1 and arrived in the Persian Gulf on Saturday, Dec. 26 where there has been no U.S. carrier present since October. While nearing the end of the Strait of Hormuz, “the Iranian navy announced over maritime radio that it was about to conduct a live-fire exercise and asked other vessels to remain clear.” Within 23 minutes an Iranian missile flew within 1500 yards of the USS Truman .  Two other ships, one French and one American were also in the vicinity. An anonymous military official said “We look at this firing so close to the ships as highly provocative.” The incident was not reported to the media until Tuesday, when two anonymous military officials leaked the information to NBC, after which CENTCOM spokesman confirmed the incident and issued a harsh statement.  The Truman joined the French carrier Charles de Gaulle in launching airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq on Tuesday.

Russian military

_Russian state shipbuilders are speeding up their capability to build aircraft carriers by 6 years. The president of United Shipbuilding Corp says by the beginning of 2019 “We’ll be ready to begin construction of helicopter carriers as well a whis aircraft carriers.”  The Russian navy is also building small, highly maneuverable ocean-class corvette ships with hulls “based on stealth technology” that will be armed with “high-precision missile weapons” including the Kalibr missile systems they have deployed recently in the Syrian war from the Mediterranean and the Caspian seas. These will begin to enter service in 2017 and 2018.

_The delivery of S-300 missile defense system from Russia to Iran that was blocked by Iran sanctions for five years will now go forward beginning January, 2016.

Ukraine

_ Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) reports that Ukrainian military has moved “182 units of military equipment and 420 personnel” to the front line in Donbass toward Gorlovka during the past week, including Grad rockets, artillery and armored vehicles.  The DPR spokeman also noted movement of personnel and equipment toward the government-held city of Mariupol.

_ A member of the Ukrainian parliament, Artyom Vitko, who was also a former member of one of the neo-Nazi battalions that fought in Eastern Ukraine, sang a song praising Hitler while in camo on video. The video was posted on the internet and is causing an uproar especially because of the timing — Ukraine president Poroshenko just days before was in Israel making apologies in a Knesset speech for the role of Ukraine Nazi collaborators in WWII and at a time when recent neo-Nazi activity in Ukraine has finally drawn more attention and concern from Jewish groups.

Saudi Arabia, Israel and ISIS

_ Via Brookings Bruce Riedel, “Saudi Grand Mufti calls ISIS ‘part of the Israeli army‘” in an interview this week with the Saudi Gazette.  The cleric said that ISIS leader Baghdadi’s threats against Israel in his recent speech were “just a lie” and ISIS gives a role to Israeli soldiers. Riedel notes that a good way to smear an enemy is to label them a tool of Israel.

Risk of Nuclear War, New Arms Race

_ Former defense secretary Perry says “I see an imperative to stop this damn nuclear race before it gets under way again, not just for the cost but for the danger it puts all of us in […] We are facing nuclear dangers today that are in fact more likely to erupt into a nuclear conflict than during the Cold War.” Perry has a recent book, “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,”

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Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

Joanne is a blogger with focus on issues of war and peace, a mom, engineer, software developer and amateur photographer.