Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria makes US and allies look conspicuously incompetent

Webster G. Tarpley | 13 Oct 2015

In the wake of the threat of Islamist terrorism against Russia delivered by the out-of-control US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter at the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Belgium last Thursday, representatives of the degenerate absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia have reiterated their own parallel threat to Moscow. Inevitably, the Russian leadership will consider the threats from the Pentagon and from the Saudis to be two prongs of the same aggressive operation. With most of the American public still oblivious to what is being done in their name, the world is drifting towards a superpower confrontation. Obama must act immediately to silence Carter before this exercise in insanity goes any further.

‘Moscow’s military intervention in Syria will have “dangerous consequences”, escalating sectarian war there and inspiring militants from around the world to join in, senior Saudi Arabian officials told Russia’s leaders on Sunday, a Saudi source said. “The Russian intervention in Syria will engage them in a sectarian war,” the source said on Monday, adding that the kingdom “warns of the dangerous consequences of the Russian intervention.” “The Saudis will continue strengthening and supporting the moderate opposition in Syria,” he added. The source said he was citing positions outlined by Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during meetings with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.’ [i]

Today, the Russian authorities announced that they had defeated a terrorist attempt to set off explosive charges in the Moscow subway system:

‘Russian FSB agents today arrested six Russian citizens at a Moscow apartment who were apparently planning to detonate an explosive device in similar strength to that used in the Ankara bombings. The explosion was to be carried out on Moscow public transportation. Up to a dozen people had been actively visiting the apartment and had been previously trained by ISIS terrorists on Syrian territory.’ [ii]

A terrorist attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in Jan 2011 killed 35 and wounded 130. The Saudis are threatening to repeat this kind of atrocity, and the Russian government sees US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter as aiding and abetting this terror campaign.

Inevitably, the Russian government will tend to interpret this attempted terrorist slaughter as the direct consequence of the threats coming from Defense Secretary Carter and from the Saudi regime. These developments highlight an extremely disturbing pattern of escalation toward some kind of US-Russian confrontation in the near future. Obama must abandon his passive leadership style and act with the speed of lightning to root out the invisible government networks which are pushing the United States into a futile and dangerous clash with Moscow.

During the past 24 hours, tanks and infantry of the Syrian Arab Army supported by Russian aircraft have fought a pitched battle against a terrorist rebel column near the village of Kfar Nabudeh. The goal of the advance is to continue to clear Al Qaeda and other jihadi forces out of Western Syria, thus preventing them from attempting a Blitzkrieg on Damascus or the Latakia area, the twin pillars of the Assad government and of the Russian presence. The immediate objective was to secure the strategic four-lane highway which leads north from Damascus to Homs and then on to Aleppo. As the Voice of America was obliged to report:

‘In the heaviest fighting in weeks, government forces battled rebels in a strategic area in the central province of Hama, hoping to regain the Sahl al-Ghab plain. The fighting was focused on the village of Kfar Nabudeh with Syria’s army command saying it had captured the village, extending its advance toward the key Damascus/Aleppo Highway.’[iii]

The Russian air campaign is revealing itself as exceptionally intense, with about 10 times as many combat sorties [one combat mission flown by one aircraft]  flown per day as compared with the US and coalition average over the past several months. Under the defeatist phony war strategy imposed by the Petraeus-Allen clique, the US and its partners had only been managing somewhere between five and ten sorties per day, with the proviso that many of these planes were coming back still carrying their bomb loads. General Douglas MacArthur is famous for his adage that “In war, there is no substitute for victory.” Under the duplicitous policy of Petraeus and Allen, the concept of victory has become almost extinct from the Pentagon, and the Obama White House not done much better. In the most recent cycle, Russian aircraft have managed to pound the positions of Al Qaeda and other anti-civilization forces that might otherwise now be threatening Damascus:

‘Russia’s air force flew 64 sorties over Syria in the last 24 hours, destroying Islamic State positions, training camps and ammunition dumps, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday. A total of 63 airstrikes destroyed 53 fortified positions in Syria’s Hama, Latakia, Idlib and Raqqa provinces, the defense ministry said. Russian military officials also held a second video conference with counterparts from the United States to discuss safe flight operations over Syria, the ministry said, following earlier discussions on Saturday. [iv]

Had it not been for Petraeus, Allen, and their fellow factioneers, the US might have far surpassed these levels a year ago. If the US had concentrated 2 to 3 aircraft carrier battle groups in the eastern Mediterranean, and demanded the use of the British sovereign bases on Cyprus, while also utilizing land-based aircraft from Kuwait and other nearby bases, the entire ISIS episode could have been over by Thanksgiving 2014.

During World War II, the greatest exertion in the US-UK bombing campaign over continental Europe was the proverbial Thousand Bomber Raid. Today’s world is different, but it should have been possible to mount 1000 sorties during a 24-hour period, effectively pulverizing the ISIS command structure, frontline units, logistics, communications, and training camps. Since this path was not taken, Putin has done the world a service by plucking some low hanging fruit by clobbering the overrated, rag tag ISIS rabble, whose invincibility exists mainly in the clouded minds of Western media executives on the intelligence community payroll.

The languid and malingering pace of the US air campaign against the Islamic State Caliphate had been exposed in these pages a year ago, on October 11, 2014:

Corrupt US Media Run Cover for Phony War Against “Caliphate”

General Maurice Gamelin in 1939-40 had 110 British and French divisions to Hitler’s 25 on the western front, but he sat still and refused to attack while Poland was crushed, because London and Paris wanted to keep Hitler in power and send him east against the USSR. This was known as the phony war, the drôle de guerre, the Sitzkrieg.

Today it is the Syrian Kurds who are about to be massacred at Kobane and elsewhere because the US, NATO, Turkey, and the Gulf monarchs want to use ISIS against Syria, Iran, Russia, China, and India – BRICS nations who have been challenging the IMF world system.

The US media are playing up ISIS as invincible supermen with magical powers, but in reality they are only 25,000 psychotic patsies and brigands who could be pulverized by a 3 to 4-week air campaign of 100-200 sorties/day over Iraq and Syria, while arming the Syrian Kurds and forcing all neighboring nations to cut off support to the terrorists.

If 200 sorties a day seems like a lot, remember that the US-centered coalition flew about 100,000 sorties against Iraq in about one month at the beginning of 1991, for about 3,335 sorties per day. The US and other nations have flown about 2,000 sorties against ISIS over the last two months, for about 35 per day. The current effort is thus about one one hundredth of the daily attacks launched under Desert Storm. Is Obama even aware of this state of affairs?

US General Martin Dempsey was thought to be Obama’s hand-picked man in the Pentagon, but he may have more recently gone over to the Petraeus/McCain faction of extreme neocon warmongers. In any case, Dempsey and US Central Command boss General Lloyd J. Austin III are now on their way into the history books as appeasers and defeatists in the infamous tradition of Gamelin. [v]

Even before the United States began pretending to bomb ISIS in Syria, there was a phase in which ISIS in Iraq had been the main target. But even here, the level of effort was totally inadequate. It is of course an open secret that Petraeus, Allen, the CIA, and other forces in the administration regard ISIS as an indispensable asset, which they want to use against Iran, Russia, and other countries. Here is an account from August 20, 2014:

‘U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters flying from the deck of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) have flown 30 air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) terrorists since Aug. 8, but more sorties are geared toward surveillance, officers on the Bush said on Wednesday. American air power has hit the terrorists 84 times across Iraq since U.S. President Barack Obama authorized the use of military force to protect U.S. citizens and facilities in Iraq according to the Pentagon. Of those airstrikes, 51 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam. “We have been involved in approximately 30 kinetic events [bombings],” said Capt. D. L. Cheever, commander of Carrier Air Wing Eight onboard the George Bush during a Wednesday teleconference with reporters. Rear Adm. DeWolfe Miller, commander of Carrier Strike Group Two — also on the same telcon — could not say how many sorties the Bush launched in a given day, but said that the carrier could significantly ramp up its sortie generation if there was a demand for more strikes. Cheever said the bulk of the sorties flown from the carrier were non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) flights where weapons were not dropped.’ [vi]

84 US sorties in 12 days adds up to 7 per day – a pathetic total since the Russians are able to do almost 84 every day.  We note that the number of US sorties steadily declined from the 35 per day estimated above to between 5 and 10 in the summer of 2015. The CIA had no time or energy for the fight against ISIS, but the appearance of Russia on the Syrian chessboard has spurred the crackpots of Langley into a new phase of frenetic activity. In particular, with yet another lawless covert operation, the CIA has been delivering TOW antitank missiles to the terrorist rebels, including al Qaeda, in Western Syria. These TOW missiles are effective against the kind of 1980s Warsaw Pact tanks which the Syrian army relies on. The TOW missiles had been instrumental in allowing the terrorist rebels to advance towards the Damascus-Homs Highway. Some commentators have raised the specter of a rebel thrust towards the capital, or towards the Mediterranean coast.

If the Syrian terrorist rebels manage to use these TOW antitank missiles against the mobile rocket launchers which Russia has deployed in support of the Syrian army, a superpower confrontation with incalculable consequences could result.

The Washington Post reports today that terrorist rebels armed with TOW missiles had inflicted a “tank massacre” on pro-Assad forces. Some are speculating that the impact on the Syrian armored brigades may be comparable to the shock undergone by the Israelis during the first phase of the Kippur War of 1973. Liz Sly of the Beirut Bureau of the Washington Post writes:

‘American antitank missiles supplied to Syrian rebels are playing an unexpectedly prominent role in shaping the Syrian battlefield, giving the conflict the semblance of a proxy war between the United States and Russia, despite President Obama’s express desire to avoid one. The U.S.-made BGM-71 TOW missiles were delivered under a two-year-old covert program coordinated between the United States and its allies to help vetted Free Syrian Army groups in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad. Now that Russia has entered the war in support of Assad, they are taking on a greater significance than was originally intended. So successful have they been in driving rebel gains in northwestern Syria that rebels call the missile the “Assad Tamer,” a play on the word Assad, which means lion. And in recent days they have been used with great success to slow the Russian-backed offensive aimed at recapturing ground from the rebels.’ [vii]

The missiles in question are being delivered by Saudi Arabia from their existing stocks, something the Riyadh government should theoretically only be able to do with US approval. We wonder whether the Saudis did in fact secure such approval, or whether they are simply barging ahead on their own. Putin has tried diplomacy with the Saudis over the past few days, but the results do not appear encouraging.

Today has also brought news of airdrops by the Pentagon of some 50 tons of small arms, ammunition, grenades, rations, and other supplies in the Hasakah province of far northeast Syria. If these supplies are destined for the YPG Kurds who have proven so effective in defeating ISIS and undermining the myth of the Caliphate’s invincibility, then such airdrops are to be welcomed. But if the recipients prove to be any of the anti-Assad terrorist gaggle, then these weapons will soon be sold to ISIS, or else show up at one of the many arms bazaars in the Middle East.

Providing advanced antitank or surface-to-air missiles for the Syrian terrorist rebels is an action of foolhardy recklessness. This is one reason why the current US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, a utopian warmonger, must be ousted at once. Delivery of these weapons into the hands of jihadis represents a dangerous escalation in a possible confrontation with Russia, which must be avoided at all costs. There is no US interest in Syria which could remotely compensate for the disadvantages of further poisoning relations with Moscow. At the beginning of the current phase, it looked like Obama had understood the necessity of working with Putin, whether openly or behind the scenes, to shut down the Syrian civil war and relieve the refugee pressure on Europe. However, in approximately the last 10 days, the neocon and humanitarian bomber networks in the administration appear to have grown stronger, and are pursuing their familiar obsession of confrontation with Moscow.

The next critical choice point will be a demand by the warmongers to deliver US Stinger surface-to-air missiles to the terrorist jihadis in Syria. These are a more modern version of the MANPAD or shoulder fired missile, which caused heavy casualties among the Soviet Air Force during the Afghanistan war of the 1980s. These Stinger missiles must under no circumstances be delivered to the Syrian rebels. Anyone proposing to do so must be fired immediately.

If the CIA is allowed to deliver Stinger surface-to-air missiles to Al-Qaeda, the world may slide into World War III.

If Obama should be so foolish as to allow modern Stinger missiles to get into the hands of Islamist jihadis in Syria, it will become only a question of time until these missiles are used to shoot down a passenger airliner landing or taking off at an airport in Turkey, Israel, Western Europe or the United States. And, once that happens, the political damage to the United States and to the feckless Obama personally will be incalculable.

Obama must assert himself far beyond his usual comfort zone to get control of his government and put the CIA and Petraeus-Allen secret government forces on a short leash. The drone which approached the White House a few days ago may be the harbinger of a putsch designed to impose a wider war.


[ii] “Russia foils ISIS-trained terror attack on Moscow; Russian citizens planned to hit transportation,”…





[vii] Liz Sly, “Did U.S. weapons supplied to Syrian rebels draw Russia into the conflict?”, Washington Post, October 11,

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