New rules of engagement on the Syrian battlefield and in the diplomatic arena

From Fort Russ

Translated by Sufyan Jan for Fort Russ
1st February, 2016
Written by Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai)


  • Russia upgraded & refurnished 9 Syrian MiG-29 into Fulcrum MiG-29SMT.
  • Russia imposed new rules of engagement on the Turkish-Syrian borders.
  • Russia put an end to the Syrian – Turkish 1998 agreement

A source who’s a senior officer within the joint operation command consisting of Syria, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah has said “Russia has established new rules of engagement on the Syrian-Turkish border, and has retained the upper hand for the Syrian air force and the Syrian army, Russia also refurbished and upgraded custom made Syrian MiG29SMT, to protect the Russian air force squadrons, with clear orders to shoot down Turkish planes that enter the Syrian air space”

The source goes on to say to Al Rai, “The agreement previously concluded with Turkey during the presidency of the late Hafez Assad in 1998, which says no Syrian air force units should come within 15 Km of the Turkish-Syrian border on Syria’s side (the agreement by which Syria expelled the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, after Turkey, having amassed 10,000 soldiers, threatened to invade Syria), the agreement also included that no army battalions are to be deployed, and that only officers and border control personnel are allowed, this has all gone down the drain”, adding “gone is the time of retracting the statement “Iskandaron strip will be liberated” from school books, gone also is the time of Turkey downing a Syrian air craft and/or helicopter. Turkey’s dream of creating a safe zone is dead in the water, and with it the supply lines to send men and arms to the Syrian Turkmen to undermine Damascus. After Russia’s direct intervention in Syria, there has been drastic changes, especially after the downing of the Russian bomber Sukhoi Su-24 by Turkish F16’s last November, thus making this particular bomber the costliest of its kind, causing strategic and economic losses to Istanbul”

The source further explains “that Russia since the downing of its plane, brought in Sukhoi Su-30, which will deliver to the Russians air-supremacy that was missing before, also posting the anti-aircraft S400 missile system, Russia has further deployed heavier assault weapons and regained most of the Latakia governorate, it has broken the Syrian Turkmen militias that’s considered the military arm of Turkey, most importantly it has given the SAA a moral boost, having upgraded the MiG29 to MiG29-SMT, installing them with ZHUK-M radar that is able to track 10 targets, and engage with 4 at one particular moment, covering 120Km having 5Km width, it is now able to launch the lethal R77 missiles, also installed on these air crafts along with other gadgets is a radio jamming device, and the upgrading enables it to carry other highly developed missiles and bombs such as the KAB-500S-E. These upgrades make the MiG29-SMT the most advanced in the fourth generation line up”.

The senior source confirms “Russia has requested from Syria to conduct around the clock patrols on the Syrian-Turkish border, to ensure the safety of the Russian bombers, Russia having established new rules of engagement have authorized the Syrian air force, specifically the MiG29-SMT squadron, to engage with any Turkish targets that have violated Syrian air space or attempts to violate. By doing this Russia has given Syria its sovereignty back having lost it in 1998, and completely losing it in 2011 at the start of the revolution in Syria, as of today Syria air forces have a mandate to strike any violation without confirming with HQ, this in turn has given the Syrians a boost of morale, especially as they have been given a mandate by a super power like Russia that is physically present in Syria”

Adding “On the battlefield, there are many media reports, citations on social media networks, as well as Intelligence reports, that conclude that the insurgents are turning on each other due to the defeats incurred on them by the SAA, accusing each other of treason, and not supporting the many fronts that were lost to Hezbollah and SAA in Latakia, Hama,  Aleppo, and Dara’a. It is expected that several military units within Al-Nusra and the Army of Conquest (Al Qaida) will defect. On the other side, the SAA and NDF volunteers have increased with large numbers having graduated, pro-government forces are increasing, conversely the number of insurgents joining the cause is steadily decreasing, since Amman has stopped assistance to the southern front, this happened as Russia reached an agreement with the Jordanians, it is also Russia’s intent to shut the porous borders with Turkey and Jordan, to prevent any reinforcements to reach the insurgents, even the region West of the Euphrates where both the Russians and Syrians are bombing the supply routes to hinder any military or non-military assistance to arrive.

Russia has taken the initiative in Syria and established its dominance on the full breadth and width of the country. Politically, in Geneva on Monday the Russians are determined not to yield to the opposition anything that would endanger the grounds gained on the battlefield, and not to accept anyone who has been or still is in communication with Salafi-Jihadis ( Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham, and whoever pledged their allegiance to them or fights within their ranks). Furthermore Russia will not halt any military advancements during the Geneva talks as stated in the UN resolution, especially now that Damascus and the Kremlin hold all the cards”.

Turkey’s downing of Russian jet in Syrian airspace a breach of Syria’s sovereignty

From Syrian-Arab News Agency SANA

al-Moallem - Lavrov

Moscow, SANA –Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem affirmed that Turkey’s downing of the Russian warplane is an “act of aggression” that encroaches on the sovereignty of Syria as the plane was shot down in Syrian airspace, adding that Turkey has failed to provide any clear evidence regarding this incident.

In a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, al-Moallem stressed that Turkey is supporting terrorist organizations with weapons and facilitating their movements through the Turkish lands and securing their families.

Al-Moallem hailed the stances of the Russian leadership towards Syria, mainly the efforts exerted by minister Lavrov in promoting the political process in Vienna, noting that these stances reflect the depth of the strategic alliance between Syria and Russia, describing his talks with minister Lavrov as “frank and constructive”.

Addressing those who are demanding President Bashar al-Assad to step down, al-Moallem said “You are delusional and the reason is obvious because President al-Assad believes in the right of Syrian people to self-determination and will not allow anyone to take this right away,” said Al-Moallem.

The minister pointed out that the Russian Air Force in cooperation with Syrian Arab Army had put an end to the dreams of Erdogan which prompted Turkey to mount this aggression.

Al-Moallem said that Turkey continues to provide a cover for ISIS oil smuggling operations from Syria and Iraq into Turkey before heading to ports abroad.

Al-Moallem challenged the US Secretary of State John Kerry to offer a single piece of evidence that the Syrian side is striking oil deals with ISIS. “After all, it is not his first lie,” al-Moallem mocked.

Commenting on the statements of the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, al-Moallem told journalists that Syria has always pointed to Europe’s wrong handling of the crisis in Syria, repeatedly warning that terrorism will backfire on those who support it and regretting that Britain and France are leading the European efforts against Syria’s legitimate government.

Fabius’ overtures and willingness to cooperate with the Syrian army, if proven genuine, is welcome, al-Moallem added, but said a drastic change is need in the approach to the Syrian crisis.

In turn, Lavrov confirmed that Russia will offer all it can to help Syria in combating terrorism, preserving its national unity, rebuilding it and providing Syria with the effective support on the international level.

Lavrov issued a blistering criticism against the statements of some Syria’s neighboring countries in which they fake commitment to UN counter-terrorism resolutions while “playing their own games” by forging alliances with terrorists, describing their conduct as “very impudent.”

He questioned Turkey’s interest in eliminating terrorism and restoring security and stability in Syria, voicing Russia’s full readiness to cooperate with all countries who want to fight terrorism which are part of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition that has so far “yielded no tangible results.”

Lavrov said it is important to prepare a list of terrorist organizations which ought to be kept away from any political process and excluded from any potential ceasefire agreement. If this does not happen, he added, Vienna meeting won’t bear fruit.

He pointed out the need to hold Syrian-Syrian dialogue which brings together the Syrian government and part of the opposition adding that all the parties concerned should contribute to supporting a peaceful political process and exert their efforts to launch dialogue.

The essence of the Vienna talks stipulates that the Syrians should determine the future of their country without outside interference, adding that Russia opposes Western attempts to come up with candidates for Syria’s leadership,” Lavrov added.

Commenting on the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber by the Turkish Air Force, Lavrov wondered if Turkey is interested in combating terrorism in Syria and in the efforts to achieve stability and security.

Lavrov criticized Turkey’s contradicting statements concerning the downing of the Russian aircraft, particularly claiming that the Turkish air force did not recognize the jet to be Russian, only to contradict this later by stating that Turkey would have responded in the same way had any other jet violated its airspace.

Pointing to stepped up procedures against Turkey, Lavrov said Russia has decided to freeze the visa waiver system with Turkey in fear of “real, not hypothetical threats”.

Lavrov said eliminating ISIS is a necessity and Syria’s neighboring countries have a special responsibility in this confirming that combating terrorism in the Middle East requires abandoning double standard policies.

The minister said Russia strongly supports French President Francois Hollande’s statement about the necessity of closing the Turkish-Syrian borders, indicating that practical steps need to be taken in coordination with the Syrian government to defeat terrorism in Syria.

Al-Moallem: Syrian army making advances on all fronts backed by Russian air force

Earlier on Friday, the minister al-Moallem said the Syrian army is making progress on all fronts backed by the Russian air force.

During a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Friday, al-Moallem thanked the Russian leadership under President Vladimir Putin for its sincere efforts in supporting Syria against terrorism.

He affirmed that the Russian airstrikes in Syria have so far outdone by hundred times the Us-led coalition in the fight against ISIS, expressing sincere condolences over the death of the Russian pilot whose aircraft was downed by Turkey, describing it as a “stab in the back.”

“We have been at the receiving end of such stabs for over five years,” al-Moallem said.

Lavrov, for his part, said his country highly appreciates the Syrian government’s commitment to counterterrorism, vowing continued support for Syria to rout terrorists.

“We will continue providing all the necessary assistance to Syria in its war against terrorism in parallel with launching a political process,” added Lavrov, thanking the Syrian army for rescuing the Russian pilot whose aircraft was shot down by Turkey and for providing protection for the Russian embassy in Damascus.

“The Turkish leadership has crossed the line of what is acceptable and risks putting Turkey in a most severe situation,” he warned.

Manar al-Frieh/Manal