Ground Game: M4 All in Play
So, here’s the big picture on the ground, as I see it anyway.
Rojava is staying that they’re really OK with the Russians there—in fact, they wish the Russians were doing more, sorta like they said they would.
Like, they’re really going out of their way to distinguish between the Russian presence and the Turkish presence, even in norms of civility.
That omission gets what they mean across quite clearly, I think.
Russia’s role becomes especially important at this juncture—a fact of which Russia seems to be enormously aware because of how the conflict has professed geographically, which has been pretty clear all along:
Control of the M4.
So, Russia has taken the US base in Sarrin, as per the flag that CNN discovered, and Kobani is in play. That’s on the west end of the M4, where the battles have shut it down.
The other place where there has been serious fighting you’ll recall (outside of the western part of Syria, of course) is Tal Tamer. I haven’t been updating with images because it’s just more of the same: artillery, skirmishes, drones, US helicopters acting vaguely menacing but not engaging. It’s just the same shit grinding along. It feels gratuitous to disaster porn the subject.
And then recall there have been the various reports, as noted previously, of rumors about whether the M4 is open or not near Tal Tamer. And also the rumors, which the SDF denies, that an arrangement has been reached to transfer control of Tal Tamer to Russian and Syria forces.
Again, I’m not trained in military tactics, but I think I see what is going on here:
Control of the M4 is vital not just for kinetic military purposes and troop movements, but for the delivery of aid, food, the local economy, everything.
Which is to say, the SDF need to control it way more than, say Turkey, because they get hard screwed if they lose access in a way the Turkish forces do not.
What the hell happens if Russia controls it remains to be seen. But they are definitely suggesting their role as they guide negotiations or whatever voodoo Jedi mind shit Putin means when he speaks of the negotiations.