From Moon of Alabama:
On the last days of the Obama administration the U.S. military hit a large Al-Qaeda training camp in Idleb governate in Syria. The camp was known as a training area for European fighters. B-52 strategic bombers dropped a large amount of bombs on the camp Over 100 people were killed in the attack. The camp’s existence, though probably not the exact location, was known since 2013 but the U.S. had not touched it before. Some suggested that the attack had the purpose of destroying evidence of U.S.-al-Qaeda cooperation in Syria.
The Turkish, Russian and Iranian governments had agreed on talks in Astana in Kazakhstan between delegations from “moderate” militant groups in Syria and the Syrian government. Ahrar al Sham, which ideologically borders between al-Qaeda and the “moderates”, was also invited. It declined to take part in solidarity with the not invited designated terrorist group Jaish Fateh al-Sham (the former Nusra Front aka al-Qaeda in Syria).
Russia had suggested the talks with the intent of separating the “moderate” Takfiris under Turkish control from the designated “terrorist” Takfiris. The talks had no immediate results but still achieved their purpose. Shortly after the talks began al-Qaeda attacked Ahrar al Sham. After some on and off fighting al-Qaeda started yesterday to attack all “moderate” Takfiri groups in Idleb and Aleppo governate. (Al-Qaeda is allied with Jund al-Aqsa, an ISIS splinter group, and with the Zinki group, a CIA vetted “moderate” gang known for receiving TOW missiles from the CIA as well as for the beheading of a Palestinian child.) As al-Qaeda it is the biggest group on the rebel held ground it can only be fought by a united opposition. That fight is currently ongoing.
The separation of “moderates” from “terrorists” has thereby happened. Russia had asked the U.S. for over a year to help with the separation. But all Russian agreements with the State Department were sabotaged by the CIA and the U.S. military and the U.S. claimed that the groups were too “mingled” with al-Qaeda to be separated. from them Now, without U.S. interference, the separation has happened.
The “moderate” groups depending on Turkish supplies are now also fighting al-Qaeda and have thereby a common enemy with the Syrian government. Russia will surely try to diplomatically build upon that commonalty.
The Russian and Syrian military are holding back from the area. One should not disturb the enemy when it is making mistakes. Let the Takfiris fight each other and sort themselves out. What is left after that fight will be easier to defeat.
From Les in the comments:
I’ve read elsewhere that some of the infighting is actually the work of Hezbollah death squads staging the attacks on rebel units.
From Vagina Hat:
The SAA and Hezbollah are now the premier and unmatched fighting force in the Middle East…
The experience and expertise developed by the SAA and Hezbollah is something no amount of money can buy and will be a driving force in all military calculations by foreign powers hoping to impose their will on the Middle East for a generation.
The most powerful opposition block is the one made up of Jaish Fateh al-Sham and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, so they are going to win in the terrorist-held areas of Idlib and western Aleppo Governorates. That means that Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam will cease to exist in those areas, so the Russians and Syrians have clarity that they are fighting terrorists and nothing but terrorists.
From Outraged on neocon CIA elements:
The Clandestine Services Covert Operational Joint Command is run from Jordan, IIRC. Clandestine Services is still rogue, as Pompeo, if it is in fact intended/planned, has not yet had the considerable time & grim determination it will take to gut that division within CIA (& not only the CIA), Deputy Director’s, Division Heads, Operations Heads, Regional Heads, Chief of Local ‘Station'(national), independent action stations & sections, etc … right down to individual Operatives.
From virgile on Erdogan’s attempt to establish a caliphate:
[A] defeat and a massacre of Turkish soldiers in Al Bab could have a very negative effect on the April referendum on the Constitution.
Erdogan is begging Russia, the USA and probably the SAA to help him finish off Al Bab before April, as his reputation is at stake.
The bottom line is Trump will work with Putin in order to protect USD reserve currency status.