Spring offensives are in the air, and so it seems for political assassinations, also. The throwaway assassin who killed ex-Russian MP Denis Voronenkov on a Kiev street must have skipped a class in his basic training program. When tasked with killing a high value target with a bodyguard, you always shoot the bodyguard first if you want to live to collect your money.
Voronenkov’s shooter will not get his, because the bodyguard got him. Yes, he took a round in the stomach at close range and went down, but the shooter then turned to put two more rounds into Mr. Voronenkov . He then made the fatal mistake of showing his back to the bodyguard when he turned to make his escape and quickly got shot several times in the back. The security video has to be watched stop/start to catch all the split second details. This will be known at the “Kill or be killed in Kiev” video.
But Mr. Voronenkov’s murder, despite his shady past and legal problems, was a symbolic one as the Spring killing fest begins. Well-trained jihadi snipers have been at work in the Damascus area, killing about 50 this past week; and the car and suicide bombers were at work, too. They want to show the Syrians that although they may be losing the military combat side of the war, the jihadis have an endless supply of death and torment they can dish out even after they lose on the battlefield.
Why? Because the main jihadi supplies are coming from Turkey and Israel, and from the US and Saudi Arabia through Jordan. The Israeli airstrike last week, where our sources tell us they really did lose a plane, came in through Jordan, the US puppet-state of all time. The current Hashemite king and family are a colonial vestige, the imported royalty version. They have had their boot on the necks of the Jordanians like the Israelis do on the Palestinians.
With Palmyra retaken and heavy losses inflicted on ISIS during that battle , there will be fewer to fight to the end in Deir-Ezzor when it’s time comes to finally be liberated. The long suffering people there looked like they would be at the end of the line, due to their position far to the east. But the news this week that the ISIS jihadis there were shifting fighters to Raqqa – a death sentence for sure – and that could be a respite to the SAA forces under siege at the Deir-Ezzor airport.
But first, those ISIS reinforcements would have to get to Raqqa alive and to have something to fight with. While the road may be technically open, the Kurdish Syrian Defense Force (SDF) has taken most of the Raqqa road on the north side of the Euphrates, and has the south side road under fire with TOW missile fire, compliments of debt-funding by the American taxpayer.
If you Google up Raqqa, you will see the south side Euphrates road is quickly becoming a road to nowhere. The surprise water and helicopter assault by the SDF, with Marine helicopters across Lake Assad to the south side was successful and has those forces moving east towards the Tabqa airbase.
The US coalition may want it as a forward operating base on the safe south side of the city, before launching the big push to take the city itself. If Mosul is any example we can expect a lot of Raqqa civilians to be blown up in the battle. RT has reported from the West Mosul front lines about the neighborhoods there that look like they have been carpet-bombed. An Iraqi general tells us 4000 civilians have died so far. It seems, when it comes to civilian morale up put up against the attacking units’ morale, the civilians lose out − the cold hard arithmetic of war.
Moving northwest to the Deir-Hafer front, we see that key town was finally taken, with the jihadis somehow slipping out during the night, across wheat fields as flat as a pancake. I had expected the Russian and Syrian planes to chop them up in the open countryside, so as not to have to fight them later if they slipped away.
There was a case for letting them leave, so as not to have to wreck the city, as the SAA needs it for a functioning administration center. It even has a railroad connection, a wonderful thing for military logistics. But any hopes the SSA might have had in participating in the Raqqa assault on the southern front by at least taking the south side of the Tabqa dam were cut short with the Marines putting the SDF on the south side.
Any gains by the SAA toward Raqqa could have come with losses in other more critical places. The offensive by the jihadis toward Hama city seems to have been timed to coincide with the next round of peace talks. The talks now look shaky, as some opposition factions like the FSA are participating in offensives, which is a lit fuse on another ceasefire not holding.
The initial Hama areas retaken by the Jihadis were towns where the Tiger brigade people are from. This attack predictably pulled the Aleppo Tiger brigade forces southward to block the offensive, and they have recaptured several towns already. We will know soon if those forces were pulled south, so another front could be opened up against Aleppo City. This may not be as farfetched as some would think.
Taking a step back and looking at the entire Syrian battlefield, we find major engagements around Damascus that are designed to keep Syrian troops tied down in the south. In Palmyra, we find the current focus is retaking and securing the oil and gas fields, which the country urgently needs economically; and despite the beating that ISIS took there, they are still threatening the Palmyra perimeter and tying those troops down.
In addition to Hama, we have major fighting going on in the Damascus area, the Deir-Hafer flank on the east side of Lake Assad, and in Deir-Ezzor, with its never-ending razor’s edge situation being surrounded by ISIS. You can imagine the demands for air cover. This is why the terror proxy supporters would want to open a new front. It seems to only be feasible in the northwest, with Turkey’s supply lines to the jihadis still looking like they are fully operational.
Please don’t tell me that Erdogan would never do such a thing. The Sultan just threatened this week that Europeans would soon find it unsafe to walk the streets for fear of suicidal extremist Muslim car bomb killers. Mr. Erdogan took a step closer to getting on a drone list for that kind of talk, as we know that Turkish Intelligence has an extensive ability to unleash “extremist” attacks, if it wants to ramp up the terror game in Europe. Throw in Israel’s resources, and we could see several of these a week, if they wanted to rock the boat enough.
Israel is already busy threatening an air war to kill the momentum of President Assad’s winning the terror war. Turkey is putting its tripartite partners, Russia and Iran, in a difficult position if it continues logistical support for terror offenses during the ceasefire; and Russia doubly so, if Israel is looking for a way to hurt the Syrian air force badly.
I am still concerned that the Pentagon plan which Trump wanted to roll out to defeat ISIS in Syria could be a ruse to still attain the US coalition goal of Balkanizing Syria, and which might include killing Assad to do it. I can smell the age-old adage in the air, “That If I can’t get what I want, then nobody else will either.” I hope I am wrong, because the Syrian people don’t deserve it; but some others play for all or nothing, and we all know who they are.
Jim W. Dean, managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.