Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Behind the Battle of Al Qusayr

Sometimes, in the course of a long war, it’s possible to identify a battle which marks a clear and definite turning point, where the pendulum swings so completely one way that the issue of the entire war is essentially decided. Years of fighting might still remain, but one side gains such an overwhelming momentum that all the other can do is delay the inevitable.

For instance, there was the Battle of Stalingrad, which is almost universally (except for those who learn their history from Hollywood) regarded as the turning point of the Second World War. The Vietnamese War of Liberation was more or less ended by General Vo Nguyen Giap’s victory at Dien Bien Phu, and the Korean War hinged on two: the battles of Inchon and Chongchon*. More recently, the Battle of Kilinochchi in 2009 was the decisive point of the Sri Lankan Army’s campaign to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

[*General MacArthur’s amphibious landing at Inchon decisively defeated the North Korean campaign in South Korea, which was therefore the key battle of the first phase of the war. General Peng Dehuai’s counteroffensive at Chongchon decisively defeated the American campaign in North Korea, which is why it is the key battle of the second phase of the war. Korea was essentially two wars, each of which ended in a victory for the opposing sides.]  

Sometimes, these key battles can be identified as such even while the fighting is going on. For instance, the Germans and Russians had, by the late summer of1942, both committed themselves to the Stalingrad battle, to the exclusion of other parts of the front; both Stalin and Hitler had staked the future of the war on the outcome of that battle. The Soviet victory, therefore, was decisive simply because both sides had decided that the result of the battle would be decisive – although, in fact, the Battle of Kursk in 1943 was of far greater importance in military terms. The net effect of Stalingrad was to force the Nazis to withdraw from the Caucasus. It was only at Kursk that the Panzer divisions were smashed beyond recovery. But after the victory on the Volga, the Soviets never had any further doubts they would win; the Germans knew from that point on that they were losing the war.  

Therefore, the psychological effect of these battles is at least as important as the military. In fact, in some cases the militarily defeated side can come out the victors. The classic example is the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, where the Viet Cong’s main force regiments were destroyed in an attempt to match the US in conventional warfare – but they wrecked the American will to continue fighting the war. It would be years before the US finally withdrew, and the post-Tet fighting was essentially between the North Vietnamese People’s Army and the US forces, not the VC; but it was Tet that settled the issue of the Vietnam War.

Not all these battles are the classic “turning points”, where the side on the defensive turns the tables on the aggressor. During the aforesaid battle of Kilinochchi, for instance, the stronger side (the Sri Lankan Army) was on the offensive, and defeated the weaker side, the LTTE. But it marked a decisive point because the town had been the LTTE’s capital, and once it fell, the momentum was so completely with the Sri Lankan government forces that they saw no further need for negotiations, and demanded the LTTE’s unconditional surrender. It was also the point at which the LTTE leadership realised that they were in actual mortal danger, and decided on using the Tamils under their control as human shields. (I’ll be handling the final phase of the Sri Lankan Civil War in a future article, so stay tuned.)

In all these cases, though, the battle was instrumental in the final resolution of the war; when it was over, the advantage had swung one side’s way so much that the rest of the fighting was essentially an epilogue. It’s an interesting phenomenon, which I believe we’ve just seen again in Syria – and in Syria it just might be the most interesting of the lot.

Less than six months ago, the delusional thinking in the Western capitals (which were arming, training, and funding the terrorist gangs in Syria) was that the Assad “regime” was on its last legs, and would fall within weeks. It’s still possible to find articles dating from those days, talking about the “end game in Syria” and how the “regime’s fall was inevitable”. Of course, as independent journalists like Robert Fisk pointed out even then, the reality on the ground in Syria was light years from the fantasies of the NAQZA (the NATO/Arab monarchy/ al Qaeda/Zionist Alliance), with Damascus far from isolated, and Assad equally far from falling. But facts don’t matter to the delusional, and never did.

So it was a surprise to NAQZA, but not to the rest of the world, when the Syrian government forces (a term which now includes the Syrian Arab Army, the National Defence Force militia, and – as I’ll discuss later in this article – a contingent of the Lebanese Hezbollah) launched a blistering counteroffensive earlier this year. This counteroffensive was on several fronts, but the one that drew the most attention was in the south of the country, north-east of Damascus, which soon focused on the town of al-Qusayr.

Got this off the net; not my doing, so the American units of measurement aren't my fault.

This article will discuss the battle of al-Qusayr in the context of the Syrian “Civil War”, as the terrorist campaign against the people of Syria is generally called in the west. As such, I will handle the military aspect only tangentially, instead focussing on why I believe that this relatively minor battle (in terms of time and casualties) will turn out to be the decisive battle of the war. It will also discuss why it might be the decisive battle, in two completely different directions.

The town of al-Qusayr lies north of Damascus, about 15 kilometres from the Lebanese border, and some 60 kilometres south of the city of Homs, much fought over, and where terrorist gangs still control part of the town. Al-Qusayr’s location is strategic since it lies across routes from Lebanon to Homs, and therefore served as a conduit for arms and reinforcements to the terrorist gangs fighting in the larger city.

In November 2011, terrorist gangs forming part of the Fake Syrian Army captured al-Quseyr, which they proceeded to turn into a fortress, with houses and localities linked with tunnels. The surrounding villages, too, were captured and fortified, so that the locality became a central point of the “resistance” – and a nodal point from which attacks could be launched towards Damascus to the south and Homs to the east. As such, it was quite naturally an important strategic target for the “regime”.

Over the last months, starting in early April the Syrian forces launched a multi-pronged offensive on al-Qusayr, using new tactics rather than a frontal offensive on the town. These tactics consisted of capturing key villages and roads around the approaches to al-Qusayr, so as to isolate the terrorists in the town from resupply and reinforcement.

The terrorists had had over a year and a half to fortify the town, so any direct assault would be costly. The Syrian army hadn’t proved particularly successful in urban fighting in the past, mostly because it was a force equipped and trained for conventional war, and not in house-to-house fighting, which requires a distinctly different set of skills. That is one reason why the terrorists preferred to fight within the warren of alleys and wall-to-wall buildings in old Syrian towns; the advantage, in these cases, was with the defence, which could barricade the narrow lanes, and from tunnels and rooftops launch hit and run attacks at will. The options before the army had been either to launch short-duration probes with armour, temporarily entering a town before withdrawing again after pronouncing it “liberated”; or to pulverise the place with artillery and air strikes. This latter was precisely what the terrorists were angling for, since that would cause heavy civilian casualties and maximise calls for Western interference as in Libya. It’s no coincidence that a large proportion of the terrorists in Syria are Libyans, sent by al Qaeda proxy group terrorist-turned-military governor of Tripoli, Abdelhakim Belhadj.

Unfortunately for the terrorists and their Western masters, the Syrian military leadership learned from the early mistakes. The first thing they did was set up local militias, made up of people who were fighting for their homes and towns and thus had a fierce personal stake in the struggle; as significantly, they had an intimate knowledge of the local terrain. These are the militias who now comprise the uniformed National Defence Force. In the Qusayr area, many of the militiamen are inhabitants of Lebanese villages which lie within Syrian territory; others are Syrians of Lebanese ethnic origin, speaking Lebanese Arabic, not the Syrian version of the language [Source]. Some pro-Syrian Lebanese also probably crossed the border to fight, just as pro-terrorist Lebanese were doing on the other side.

Then there was the Hezbollah contingent. This Lebanese Shia militia and political movement hadn’t been directly involved in the Syrian conflict till fairly recently; Robert Fisk had mocked it for its silence. It might even have sat out the fight, though the possible fall of Assad would have removed its only local ally and source of arms and ammunition; but the terrorists forced its hand.

The terrorists forced its hand because they are, basically, fundamentalist jihadists with neither a long-term vision nor much in the way of intelligence. They declared it to be a sectarian war against Shias, Christians, Alwaites and anyone else who didn’t share their fundamentalist viewpoint. They then began attacking Shia mosques and other places of worship. Hezbollah then had the excuse it might or might not have wanted all along, and sent forces into Syria to “protect Shia shrines” – and, incidentally, to train the Syrian Army and the NDF in urban warfare tactics, at which Hezbollah is an acknowledged master.

(According to Western sources and their pet terrorists, Iran sent weapons and might have sent troops to fight alongside the “regime”. Since I wouldn’t trust the West to tell me that the sun rises in the east, until and unless verifiable evidence is presented, this can be ignored.

This is probably time to make a point: the Syrian war didn’t become an “international conflict” with the entry of Lebanese volunteers and Hezbollah fighters. It was “internationalised” by the terrorists themselves, the moment they went looking for arms, funds, training and sanctuary in Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and from the moment jihad contingents from the US to Pakistan, Chechnya to Yemen, began flooding into Syria. It wasn’t the “regime” which turned the conflict to an “international” one; it was the terrorists, and the countries which arm, train, fund and support them.)

So the offensive against al Qusayr didn’t develop along the lines the terrorists had expected, with Syrian armour making token thrusts while artillery killed hundreds of civilians and the Western terror cheerleaders howled about “regime brutality”. The Syrian government was careful to do its utmost to avoid civilian casualties, too (I doubt it was for humanitarian reasons, but avoiding civilian casualties made sound strategic sense) by dropping leaflets asking people to evacuate the town. The terrorists at first denied that leaflets were dropped at all, and then – when the evidence was presented – claimed that the people weren’t leaving of their own free will. Of course, they were actually being prevented from leaving; they were too valuable as shields and pawns.

Instead, the “regime” concentrated on cutting off the terrorists, “turning off the weapons tap”, and surrounding the town, until it was isolated and ripe for the plucking. It was only then, on 19th May, that the government forces (including Hezbollah units) entered the town, and began street-by-street fighting. The Battle of al Qusayr had begun.

The fighting wasn’t easy. Hezbollah members themselves said that the enemy was very well-trained and that their tactics were “irritatingly familiar”; in fact, they were the same tactics Hezbollah had itself used while defeating the Zionist aggression against Lebanon back in 2006. And no wonder, too; because Hezbollah units found that the people they were killing and capturing included HAMAS men of the Qassam Brigades.

Now, HAMAS, as anyone who knows much about the Palestinian question should be aware, is a Sunni-fundamentalist group which was initially created by the Zionist entity as a counterweight to the secular Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Like most Frankenstein’s Monsters, it got out of hand to a certain extent, finding shelter and support in Syria, and training from...Hezbollah. Yes, Hezbollah, the alleged Shia-chauvinist group, trained HAMAS, which is Sunni.

Now, let’s not forget who it is who set up HAMAS in the first place. Although HAMAS did get out of hand to some extent, it was only to some extent. One should note that HAMAS never actually attacks the Zionist entity in any significant way, limiting its assaults to symbolic strikes by homemade Qassam rockets which would pretty much have to fall on somebody’s head to be harmful. And for all its bellicose rhetoric and punitive attacks on Gaza, the Zionist entity has never made a serious attempt to destroy HAMAS, which it could have without too much trouble. In fact, by its actions, the Zionist entity has made HAMAS stronger and more popular – thereby directly weakening Fatah and dividing the Palestinian resistance. It’s hard to imagine that this was not deliberate.

As the war in Syria started, HAMAS quickly ditched Assad and switched its allegiance to the Qatari-based terrorists, and it was the guiding hand behind the al Qusayr resistance. As we know, the Zionists have bombed Damascus, thus directly intervening on the side of the terrorists, and have threatened to attack Russian shipments of S300 anti-aircraft missiles – which would, of course, make it more difficult for the racist thugs in Tel Aviv to attack Syria or Lebanon. Also, there’s a common misconception in the West that a Sunni fundamentalist regime in Damascus would be anti-“Israel”. That’s actually not quite evident, given that the Sunni-fundamentalist Saudis, for instance, have never given the Zionists any grief. The only Arab nations and organisations targeted by the Zionists have been secular-nationalist governments and organisations like Nasserite Egypt, Ba’athist Syria and Iraq, Lebanon, and the PLO – or else Shia Iran. There’s no reason to believe that a Sunni fundamentalist regime in Damascus would be anything but cravenly friendly to the Zionists – like today’s Egypt or Jordan, for example.

Of course, there’s no reason whatsoever to believe that there will be any kind of fundamentalist jihadist regime in Damascus which will control Syria, even if the terrorists win, for the simple reason that Syria is a highly multi-ethnoreligious country, which would aggressively resist any such Islamist dispensation. Syria would become a fragmented mosaic of warring mini-states, like Libya today but on a much larger scale, too weak to be of any threat to the Zionist entity. Of course, the Saudis and the Qataris would be left high and dry, all their expense and effort in vain; but nobody can say they wouldn’t deserve it.

Now it becomes clear just whose agenda HAMAS was fulfilling by fighting with the terrorists in Qusayr against the Syrian forces and Hezbollah.

Now, from the beginning of the battle of the town of al Qusayr, there wasn’t really any doubt who would win. The town was sealed off, the terrorists within trapped and beyond the reach of resupply. Their only way out was to launch a propaganda war, both directly and through their Western media sources. Thus we learned that, for instance,

-       Assad was “losing the war”, and the reason for the al Qusayr offensive was to open a road link to the Alawite heartland to the north-west for the imminent evacuation of Damascus [because, you know, launching complex successful counter-offensives is what you do when you’re losing. In reality, the significance of al Qusayr is as a communications node between Lebanon and Homs, not Damascus and Latakia. There’s a road outside the town linking the capital with the Mediterranean coast - see here].

Clearly, the road north is to the east of al Qusayr town (the red dot)

     That the “regime” needed to be weakened so as to force it to join in peace talks, which is why the terrorists had to be helped to hold on to al Qusayr. [Of course, the Syrian government has always agreed to peace talks – it’s the terrorists who have refused].

-       “Hundreds” to “thousands” of Hezbollah were being killed in al Qusayr [while the actual toll (as measured in Hezbollah funerals in Lebanon) didn't top the century mark, and Hezbollah itself said it had expected to lose at least a thousand “martyrs” in the battle].

-       That Assad’s definition of “victory” had changed and he was merely trying to hang on till 2014 instead of trying to reconquer the entire nation. [One assumes that’s why the Syrian forces are now massing for a counterstrike against the terrorists in Aleppo – just so Assad can hold on till 2014. Logical, yeah.]

-       That the “rebels” were surprising everyone with their tenacity. [This became rather hilarious when the Western propaganda services claimed on 4 June that the “rebels” were dug in for the long haul and that they still controlled much of the town. Within hours, the Syrian government conclusively proved that they had captured the town, and the terrorists also admitted the fact. I haven’t yet seen any Western propaganda source explain how the “determined” rebels were so swiftly ousted.]

-       That the Syrian Army was apparently shelling surviving civilians who were hiding in orchards, and looting their homes. [ Zero evidence offered of course – this was the British Bullshit Craporation talking, after all.]

Actually, the terrorists were apparently offered a deal through intermediaries, for safe passage out of the town; and, these fearless glorious revolutionaries took up the offer, running as fast as they could. Some of them made a stand at Buwayda, 13 kilometres from al Qusayr, but were swiftly defeated there, within three days of the fall of al Qusayr itself. There is something very interesting that happened in Buwayda:

“Activist sources said dozens of rebels, including a number of foreigner (sic) fighters, were captured alive in Buwayda, but there was no immediate word of their fate.

This is interesting because even the “activists” (read Western-backed propagandists) admit that many terrorists were captured alive, instead of fighting to the death as had been the norm earlier. This can only mean that they surrendered – and that, in turn, means that the terrorist morale has crumbled. Just as in the last days of the Sri Lankan civil war, when LTTE fighters started surrendering instead of swallowing cyanide, the terrorists now prefer to lay down their arms rather than die for the cause. The pendulum has swung Syria’s way, and is still swinging. Even the German intelligence service, which earlier said Assad would fall by January, now says Southern Syria will be cleansed of the terrorists by the end of the year.

That estimate is borne out by other accounts, including  reports from Aleppo where the terrorist gangs – when they aren’t fighting among themselves or looting civilians – are demoralised and depressed. It’s their turn next, and they know it.

Therefore, the situation as it stands now is that the Syrian armed forces seem unstoppable. The terrorist Fake Syrian Army is trying to retaliate against Hezbollah by spreading the war to Lebanon, but that probably won’t get it far. In one clash, the body count was 12 to 1 in Hezbollah’s favour – and the Lebanese people in any case have no wish to return to civil war.

Victorious Syrian soldiers

However, other international events are in play. One is the revolt in Turkey against the crony-capitalist terrorist-backing Erdogan government. As I’d predicted a long time ago, in July 2012, Turkey can’t keep hosting terrorists without facing the consequences. I don’t think the Empire will allow Erdogan to be overthrown until a reliable puppet is obtained, like Morsi in Egypt, but Turkey won’t be a reliable terrorist sponsor for some time to come. The Empire has to do something now, or lose the north of Syria, just as they are losing the south.

Also, increasing numbers of Western European and American terrorists are getting involved in Syria. As they lose the war there, and return home, they are almost certain to lash out at their own homelands – which is something the same Western countries which back the terrorists are beginning to dread. Others will go back  to Qatar, Jordan, Libya and Saudi Arabia, for example – and start their own terror campaigns against those countries for not helping them more to win their Syrian adventure. Don’t imagine for a second these Arab countries aren’t aware of the danger. They need to keep the Syrian pot boiling, at all costs.

Then there’s the electronic eavesdropping scandal engulfing America, with new allegations coming out just about every day. The latest is Edward Snowden, who promises to be a major embarrassment to the Empire. Obama is in trouble, and must be looking for a distraction. A war would provide a nice distraction, and would make not only his own worshippers happy but would carry along the American Right (i.e. the lunatic fringe of the right anywhere else in the known universe), who are already howling for intervention. Obama has troops in Jordan, and must be thinking seriously about the costs of getting involved in Syria. At least, we can expect major weapons deliveries to the terrorists in the near future.

These weapons deliveries, in fact, are most unlikely to change things on the ground; after all, the Empire has already been supplying weapons through its Arab vassals. But it would be the first step towards open intervention, and – when the terrorists keep losing, as they most certainly will – would make trying to impose a unilateral “no fly zone” more attractive. The terrorist leaders are also keenly aware that they need to sabotage any political settlement, so they are imposing ridiculous conditions so as not to attend any peace conference, such as they won’t attend the conference if they aren’t given arms. Now if they are given arms, why on earth would they want to attend any peace conference?

Peace-loving negotiators

So – depending on what happens in the near future – the battle of al Qusayr could either lead to the Syrian government destroying the terrorists and halting the neo-colonial imperial campaign, or it could finally trigger an overt Western intervention. That is why it’s decisive.

But, meanwhile, as the terrorists continue their murderous crimes, such as shooting a 15-year-old tea seller in front of his family for “blasphemy”, and turning Syrian cities into seas of ruins, even those Syrians who initially opposed Assad have grown disillusioned with the terrorists and  are swinging back behind him. The latest figures are 70%. I wonder which “democratically elected” Western “leader” can claim that?

No wonder they want Assad gone.        

Western-backed freedom


  1. Bill, Terrific report, as always, with all kinds of interesting aspects. I felt like I learned a lot. Also, I love your description of the "civil war" as 'the terrorist campaign against the Syrian people' - so loaded with meaning and at the same time, so deadly accurate.

  2. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri calls the Islamic fighters to unite and not to drop their weapons or leave the trenches until establishing an Islamic state in al-Sham countries.

    Zawahri in a voice message says that US and its alliances want you to shed your blood to topple the Baath regime and to set up after that a government loyal to them and to safeguard Israel’s security that rebel on Islam’s sharia and to be US’s tool that confront Iran “Jihad in al-Sham is greater than the greed of US and of Iran’s influence”.

    they figured it out finally ... this should be interesting ;)

    great write Bill, even with my focus being Syria for what three years now, i learned a lot. no idea how you figure out the strategies but am grateful you do
    thank you

  3. Bill, the reason why I like reading this site is because you know what the hell you're talking about.

    Most Americans, for example, know the high-school version of Korea - Inchon was a great victory; etc.; etc. - but no one knows of Chongchon, which was the more-important conflict; small wonder that our 'news' here stateside tells us that 'Assad bad; rebels good' - and keeps pounding that in.

    Thanks for this. There's no substitute for real news, solid knowledge, and connecting-the-dots....

  4. Great report Bill. As always, you tell the truth straight up, no fluff, no filler. Excellent.

  5. My sweet friend, I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Congratulations! Please visit this link: transcendingbordersblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/very-inspiring-blogger-award-2/

    1. Um, thanks, but I'm going to decline the honour. I'm not in the running for awards.

  6. Highly informative and detailed account, tying many threads together into a well-reasoned narrative.


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