Syria

Latest Anna News video from Hama. No Eng subtitles but gives a good impression of the heavy fighting going on. Suheil Al Hassan (the 'Tiger') is seen at the front at 10.05 - the reliable SAA forces seem often to depend upon the leadership of someone prepared to take personal risks (see the late Issam Zaheridine) - and, at 4.25, a tank commander has a lucky escape. Will post the Eng version when it comes.

 
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Up to two million Syrians could flee to Turkey if clashes worsen - U.N - Reuters
UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Moumtzis has raised concerns that hundreds of thousands of refugees or more will be trying to get into Turkey if the current fighting intensifies:
“Our fear is if this continues, and if the numbers continue soaring, and if the conflict intensifies, that we could see really hundreds of thousands, a million, two, heading towards the borders with Turkey,” the U.N. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Panos Moumtzis, said.
He alleges medical facilities and schools in the area are being affected, if not deliberately targeted. Before, organisations would give the coordinates, but no longer do they trust that information will spare them, if not be used to target them. He's calling for an intervention, presumably by the UN which will be a none starter:
“We see an offensive that is really targeting - or with an impact on - hospitals and schools in civilian areas, in areas where there is the population and urban areas - which really should not be happening according to international humanitarian law,” Moumtzis said.

Aid organisations have been encouraged to share their locations with the warring parties to avoid being hit. But after repeated air strikes on hospitals, many aid workers distrust such requests, Moumtzis said.

“It’s a catastrophe, what has been happening... for the sake of humanity, there has to be an intervention,” he said.

“A few months ago, we asked to make sure that this nightmare scenario will not take place. Actually, it’s unfolding in front of our own eyes as we speak.”
 
Latest Anna News video from Hama. No Eng subtitles but gives a good impression of the heavy fighting going on. Suheil Al Hassan (the 'Tiger') is seen at the front at 10.05 - the reliable SAA forces seem often to depend upon the leadership of someone prepared to take personal risks (see the late Issam Zaheridine) - and, at 4.25, a tank commander has a lucky escape. Will post the Eng version when it comes.

Interesting ‘O Gp’ at the beginning, what ‘dress regs’ Russian reporters are using and the multiple camouflage (inc Brit desert at 13.41) uniforms and civilian dress are used
 
(...) What seems to have happened in recent weeks is that an SAA offensive designed to make a pocket of a major rebel position in Al Lataminah, Northern Hama, has run into spoiler attacks both in Northern Hama itself and in the Western border of Idlib province. The SAA and RuAF are gradually restoring the situation but they were caught out by the size of the rebel attacks and have lost men, equipment and territory. The front line seems to consist of SAA outposts so the rebels can achieve local superiority in an initial attack.
Looking at a relief map of Idlib, the area being fought over at present is a range of hills, after which a Northward advance by the SAA would be through flat terrain.
What I seem to recall from previous videos is that the government are trying to gain control of strategic heights which the rebels use to dominate the plains below. Once the government gain control of strategic points the front may shift rapidly.

You will notice in the video a lot of burned farmland. Rebel media is trying to make an issue of the intentional burning of crops by the SAA and RuAF. Govt areas seem affected too however so the burning is more likely accidental - very dry climate meets rocket barrages. (...)
The first video starts out showing the rebels setting extensive fires in order to create smoke to conceal their movements from the air and to defend against air strikes. This will be an important factor in areas where fighting is taking place, which of course is also the areas we are seeing videos of.

However, you also need to take a close look at the fields and not assume that any bare area is necessarily the result of war. Some of the aerial shots showed fields that had recently been ploughed, with the tire marks of the tractors still evident. Also, burning of wheat straw and stubble is a common agricultural practice. The following image shows peaceful Manitoba, not war torn Syria. Whether to burn straw or to plough it into the soil will be a decision made depending upon local circumstances at the time in question.


Summer is not the growing season for non-irrigated crops in Syria, as it is too dry. Wheat will grow in the late autumn and in the spring, and be harvested in early summer as the fields dry out. I would imagine that much of the crop is already in, and farmers may be ploughing and burning straw.

Artillery and rockets will obviously be a factor in some fires, but there are other factors at play which require more information than we (or western journalists) are likely to have available to us.
 
What I seem to recall from previous videos is that the government are trying to gain control of strategic heights which the rebels use to dominate the plains below. Once the government gain control of strategic points the front may shift rapidly.


The first video starts out showing the rebels setting extensive fires in order to create smoke to conceal their movements from the air and to defend against air strikes. This will be an important factor in areas where fighting is taking place, which of course is also the areas we are seeing videos of.

However, you also need to take a close look at the fields and not assume that any bare area is necessarily the result of war. Some of the aerial shots showed fields that had recently been ploughed, with the tire marks of the tractors still evident. Also, burning of wheat straw and stubble is a common agricultural practice. The following image shows peaceful Manitoba, not war torn Syria. Whether to burn straw or to plough it into the soil will be a decision made depending upon local circumstances at the time in question.


Summer is not the growing season for non-irrigated crops in Syria, as it is too dry. Wheat will grow in the late autumn and in the spring, and be harvested in early summer as the fields dry out. I would imagine that much of the crop is already in, and farmers may be ploughing and burning straw.

Artillery and rockets will obviously be a factor in some fires, but there are other factors at play which require more information than we (or western journalists) are likely to have available to us.
Good point there re. intentional burning - the farming part of my family would be appalled at my error...
 
Well spotted.
Any idea what the 'O Gp' was discussing?
No, tbh I was extracting the urine. “Left flanking and bags of smoke”?

Imx, there’s lots of gesticulating and raised voices and it’s all about being ‘seen’ to be the one who knows what they’re doing and berating others for having different opinions. That is until they’re dragged to one side and told to listen to the bloke who may have more up to date info.

There’s a line imo between being bogged down with procedure and relying on someone to get on with the job. Getting a ‘proper’ O Gp with ‘actions on’ etc. isn’t in the mindset from what I’ve seen in the area, even if they’ve been taught it.

Interesting videos though, even if you dismiss the rhetoric, it’s not an easy battle.

E2A: The radios are interesting. They look CotS and don’t appear to have a crypto delay.
 
No, tbh I was extracting the urine. “Left flanking and bags of smoke”?

Imx, there’s lots of gesticulating and raised voices and it’s all about being ‘seen’ to be the one who knows what they’re doing and berating others for having different opinions. That is until they’re dragged to one side and told to listen to the bloke who may have more up to date info.

There’s a line imo between being bogged down with procedure and relying on someone to get on with the job. Getting a ‘proper’ O Gp with ‘actions on’ etc. isn’t in the mindset from what I’ve seen in the area, even if they’ve been taught it.

Interesting videos though, even if you dismiss the rhetoric, it’s not an easy battle.

E2A: The radios are interesting. They look CotS and don’t appear to have a crypto delay.
Ah. Makes sense - the most I have seen in translation is stuff like 'Head for that farm (points), keep to the left of the road, 3 metres between men' stuff. Control seems often based on use of small commercial drones to get a useful idea of who is where, and of the radios you refer to.
Re. the radios, I would assume the Russians would want the SAA to pay attention to that issue, given their (Ru) focus on electronic warfare. No idea what solutions they have in place.
 
Re. the radios, I would assume the Russians would want the SAA to pay attention to that issue, given their (Ru) focus on electronic warfare. No idea what solutions they have in place.
I believe the SAA are using what they’ve been given. Where they got them from, who knows but it doesn’t take much to intercept comms and listen in or even join in as a ‘false’ callsign. I hope they are encrypted as that is pretty basic nowadays.

Yep, both Ru and Sy govt have very good intercept kit and no doubt the rebels are aware of this. If not, it should make them more so if 20 seconds after ‘pressing the tit’ they get a barrel bomb on top of them :)
 
Here's that video with Eng subs. At the O Gp, one guy does say 'Go there, stick to this side of the road' so my earlier guess was OK. I have spent too much time watching this sort of stuff, clearly.

 
Probabl
I will be in Beirut at the end of this month.
Would nipping across the border for a couple of days in Damscus (just me) be fair enough, or....
Cheers
Probably not the advice you’re looking for:
Syria travel advice

@Fuchs66 has been and may have advice where to go and what to do
 
Russia and Turkey broker ceasefire in Syria's Idlib: Russian news agencies - Reuters
Looks like another ceasefire is in progress, to be applied to the ‘so-called Idlib deescalation zone’, albeit shelling is still being reported. No time period mentioned:
Russia and Turkey have brokered a complete ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib province between Syrian government forces and rebels, Russian news agencies cited the Russian military as saying on Wednesday.

The Russian military said the ceasefire applied to the so-called Idlib de-escalation zone and had led to a significant reduction in violence on Wednesday, Russian news agencies reported.
They did not say how long the ceasefire would last. Idlib is the last significant rebel stronghold.
Intensive shelling continued to target towns and cities in southern Idlib countryside and northern Hama countryside after midnight, when the ceasefire was supposed to take effect, civil defense told Reuters.
 
I will be in Beirut at the end of this month.
Would nipping across the border for a couple of days in Damscus (just me) be fair enough, or....
Cheers
Was last there at the end of 2016 so may be a bit out of date. If you haven't got someone to cover your arrse (and I wasn't there at the behest of HMG) I would advise against, you would be opening yourself up to possible trouble, especially on the checkpoints between the Lebanese border and Damascus. If you can't speed through the "official" lane with a military escort then you will be at the mercy of the guys on duty and quality of personnel on the checkpoints varies greatly.
 

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