US and Russia plan Joint Air Command to hit Terrorists in Syria

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Pentagon isn’t going to be happy about this.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced an agreement on a Syria plan between the US and Russia late on Friday, which they said the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad had agreed to.

The agreement seems to have the main ingredients I talked about last Saturday:

1. Syrian Air Force stops bombing cities, including Aleppo and Homs

2. Humanitarian aid allowed to reach millions of civilians

3. Russia will also stop its bombing campaign on all groups except Daesh (ISIS, ISIL)

4. Once these steps have been taken, the US will join Russia in bombing positions of the Army of Syrian Conquest (Jabhat al-Nusra), whose leader is loyal to al-Qaeda

What is now elaborated and a little unexpected is that if the agreement holds for a week, the US has agreed to establish a joint Air Force operations center to coordinate air strikes on Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) and on al-Qaeda in Syria (the Army of Syrian Conquest [ASC] or the Nusra Front).

As I noted last Saturday, a lot of officers in the US military do not like the idea at all of coordinating with Russia, and feel that Russia has taken advantage of past ceasefires to advance its interests and those of al-Assad on the ground.

Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein has complained bitterly that Russian pilots in Syria have been reckless and endangered the American pilots. But Gen. Goldfein is just going to have to spend some time doing joint planning with the commander of Russian Aerospace Forces, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev.

With regard to broken ceasefires, to be fair, Russia holds that US-backed fundamentalist guerrilla groups have often broken past cease-fires and actually joined in with al-Qaeda to attack Russia and its allies and to grab up new territory.

One implication of the agreement is that the 30 or so CIA-vetted rebel groups, mostly Muslim Brotherhood, to which the US has funneled money and arms through Saudi Arabia, are being forced to break their alliance of convenience with Abu Muhammad al-Julani, who has pledged allegiance to 9/11 mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri, and who leads ASC/ Nusra. Since both Russia and the US will be bombing the positions of al-Julani’s ASC/ Nusra Front, the remnants of the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups such as

If the rebels keep their battlefield alliance with it, they’ll be bombed alongside the al-Qaeda affiliate.

(Why the US is supporting allies, even allies of convenience, of al-Qaeda 15 years after 9/11 I’ll never understand; apparently you’d have to ask John Brennan at the CIA).

In return for joint US-Russian air action against Daesh and al-Qaeda, Russia agreed to a kind of no-fly zone in Syria– there are areas of Russo-American air dominance where the Syrian regime’s planes will not be allowed to fly. Hence Damascus won’t be able to send down barrel bombs on rebel-held areas at will anymore.

Moreover, the regime will have to let food and supplies into besieged urban quarters. Al-Assad and his henchmen have been starving rebel groups out and forcing them to relocate.


Related video:

RT: “Syria ceasefire: Kerry, Lavrov agreed on a new plan on Syria”

14 Responses

  1. The Russians have previously complained that the rebels used earlier ceasefires to resupply and re-equip their adherents, and it may be significant that during the last week the government regained control from the rebels of various areas including the Ramouseh suburb of Aleppo, which I understand to be a route into the besieged area, and is presumably now in a position to monitor it for such misuse.

  2. keep in mind that the Russian policy to intervene on behalf of Syria is a consequence of its belief that Obama/Clinton bamboozeled it (and China) for their Security Council votes on “humanitarian” intervention in Libya.

  3. Could it be that Trump’s Putinophily is merely ahead of its time? What else lies ahead of us in the looming, mutually beneficial US-Russian alliance?

    • It’s hardly an alliance. The US and Russia are likely to reach fragile accord on specific matters from time to time but deep down they will always remain separate, the same with China. What will be interesting is the European/Russian future. The current stand-off is a US construct with no real roots whereas there have been European/Russian historical and cultural associations since the early 18th century and they are reawakening after the tumults of the 20th century. The last Empress of Russia was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and her remains were reburied in Saint Petersburg in 1998. The Duke of Edinburgh is the grandson of a Russian Grand Duchess married to the King of Greece. The Greeks are shortly to raise a monument to her in Thessaloniki. Russian culture, literature, theatre and ballet, have had great influence in Europe as has European culture in Russia. These reflect roots that survive passing political vicissitudes. A Russian gas pipeline is mooted to pass through Turkey and on to Greece and Italy. The Germans and French have suffered quite enough economically from Russian sanctions as have many other Europeans and they are chafing at the bit. That is the space to watch.

  4. professor cole
    you are correct to rethink the terminology. “joint air command” is much better than the orwellian use of “ceasefire”.

  5. “(Why the US is supporting allies, even allies of convenience, of al-Qaeda 15 years after 9/11 I’ll never understand; apparently you’d have to ask John Brennan at the CIA).”

    There is so much that we eviscerated in our constitution with the Patriot Act and then subsequent legislature in name of combating terrorism. We also detained people in Guantanamo without due process for years on end. So, much was done in the name of combating terrorism. Actions that can be rightly condemned on civil liberties or human rights grounds.

    Here, now our government is making a complete mockery of our government’s stated commitment to combat terrorism. Our government is funding groups that actually give support to Al Qaeda. Even in the most Orwellian of worlds such actions defy credulity.

    So much nonsense has created so much grief and human loss for Syrians and Iraqis. If our government just desisted from giving support to these extremist groups, the situation in Syria and Iraq would be far better.

  6. MSNBC fat cat host have been over the last month pushing hard the idea that Trump must be a Russian agent promoting the idea that Russia and the U.s. should join forces in fighting the Bush/Cheney, Obama/Clinton created Isis. Guess the Russian agent Trump must have infiltrated the Obama administration with his “let’s try to join with Russia on the ISIS issue “idea. Guess Joy Reid, Lawrence O’Donnell will be reporting that Kerry and Obama are now Russian agents too. The “Russians are coming” fear mongering on MSNBC has been shameful.

  7. Been thinking about Trump’s imperialist statements that “we should have taken Iraq’s oil.” That is essentially what took place. Clinton supported. U.S. Imperialism in action..
    link to

    “From ExxonMobil and Chevron to BP and Shell, the West’s largest oil companies have set up shop in Iraq. So have a slew of American oil service companies, including Halliburton, the Texas-based firm Dick Cheney ran before becoming George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000.

    U.S. Imperialism in concrete form:
    The US Embassy In Baghdad Cost A Staggering $750 Million [PHOTOS]

    link to
    Why the war in Iraq was fought for Big Oil –
    Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with winners: Big Oil.|By By Antonia Juhasz, Special to CNN

  8. I like the agreement. The priority should’ve been the elimination of terror groups and their allies in the first place. Bashar is a better alternative than the other so called rebels who let their country destroyed rather than continue their peaceful struggle. Islamists are the enemy here. Mainly Saudis used the country to be used as a terror central for some personal vendettas against Bashar. Every country participated in this war complicit in worsening situation.

    • “better alternative than the other so called rebels who let their country destroyed rather than continue their peaceful struggle.” Huh? Are u kidding? The huge number of peaceful demonstrators were mowed down by Assad, setting the stage for extremists to enter the fray. In August, 2011, 2300 Syrians had been killed, the issue of foreign involvement and military action was on the table. The in-country Local Coordinating Committees that play an important role in communications between areas of resistance, opposed the protests taking up arms or calling for foreign help. But the Gulf States, Turkey, etc. were already busy at work sponsoring militant groups. The US closed its eyes. Don’t blame the Syrian people who took up the banner of reform during the Arab Spring for the death of over 400,000 of their countrymen.

  9. Juan, a question. I have been trying to get a handle on what percentage of the Syrian population lives in the following categories to see if the non-Kurd, Non-Dash opposition has any real weight on the ground.

    I guess the categories would be: (1) Syrian Government controlled territory, (2) Kurdish controlled; (3) Dash controlled; and (3) other opposition (including whatever Al Nusra is calling itself today.

    My impression is the non-Kurd opposition that is acceptable to the USG holds a relatively low percentage of the population (maybe as low as 10 percent). I would appreciate your view as this would seem to be a key factor in any peace negotiations.

  10. Why are we still supporting AQ types after 9/11? Same reason as before 9/11. We have used jihadi muscle to keep our oil prices down. Those Sauds keep the light sweet flowing and we keep the money rollin. Our SUVs are bumpin while whabbi mosques keep opening. It’s just big business both oil and religion.
    Buy a PV panel and put a sign on it that says “this machine kills facist…both Cheney and Saud.

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