April 10, 2018

Notional message from Russian commander to President Bashar al-Asad on chemical attack

Syrian child killed in Duma chemical weapons attack - April 7, 2018

By now, most of the world has been repulsed by the dramatic, tragic images emerging from the eastern suburbs of Damascus, Syria. These images of dead children, and probably more so, of suffering children have had the same effect as in the past - anger that any government would unleash chemical weapons on its own population.

As I have repeatedly said during my interviews on CNN, no sane military commander would have authorized this attack. The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Asad is on the verge of victory over virtually all of the disparate opposition groups in the country, be they the Free Syrian Army or the jihadist groups still fighting in the few remaining pockets of resistance in the country. This victory has been made possible by the massive application of Russian airpower, as well as Iranian and Hizballah fighters on the ground.

The forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been largely ejected from almost all of the areas they previously controlled. The remaining ISIS-held areas in northeast Syria had been steadily defeated by the primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic Front (SDF), supported by the U.S.-led coalition airpower, intelligence, artillery and special forces.

Thanks to NATO "ally" Turkey, the ground offensive against ISIS has been virtually put on hold as Turkish forces and their sycophantic Syrian allies launched an unnecessary and unhelpful offensive against the Syrian Kurds.

Despite the slowdown of the offensive against ISIS, the Syrian regime is on the path to reasserting almost complete control over the suburbs of Damascus, finalizing its operations in the Eastern Ghutah. There was no need to use chemical weapons.

I believe that the Syrians decided to use chemical weapons on their own, without seeking counsel from either their Russian or Iranian supporters. Given the international reaction to the images of dead and injured Syrian children, the Russians must be understandably upset at their Syrian clients.

I can imagine a strongly worded message from the senior general in charge of the sizable Russian expeditionary force headquartered at Humaymim air base just south of the major port city of Latakia on Syria's northwest coast. Here's how it might have read:


T O P   S E C R E T

Date: 8 April 2018

From: General-Colonel Sergey Vladimirovich Surovikin
Commander, Russian Group of Troops - Syria

To: His Excellency Bashar al-Asad
President, Syrian Arab Republic

Subject: Chemical Attack on Duma

Mr. President,

It is with great distress that I learned of the recent use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Army in the Eastern Ghutah city of Duma yesterday.

As you are aware, Russian forces have supported Syria's military operations with virtually unlimited airpower, as well as special forces (Spetznaz) troops, artillery and rocket fires, intelligence information, and military advisers embedded at the battalion level. Our joint forces are on the verge of victory over the rebels and terrorists that threaten your government.

Duma is the last remaining enclave in the Eastern Ghutah. Russian military officers have struck a deal with the primary opposition force in Duma, the jaysh al-islam (Army of Islam). The fighters and their families will be allowed to leave Duma, and your forces will enter the city and reassert Syrian sovereignty over the entire area. Our joint forces will then turn our attention to the remaining pockets of resistance in the Damascus area, primarily in the area of the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp.

Unfortunately, the Syrian Arab Army's use of chemical munitions has created an unstable situation. As we witnessed just one year ago, the use of chemical warfare nerve agents risks a military response from certain Western nations. Last year, the United States Navy launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into the Syrian Arab Air Force base at Sha'yrat, destroying a significant percentage of the SYAAF fighter-bomber inventory, as well as causing damage to the airfield facilities. Yesterday's attack may provide the impetus for an additional attack, or series of attacks, on Syrian military facilities.

Of course, the Russian armed forces are here to support your government. Unfortunately, the actions of your soldiers have forced us to change our offensive posture in parts of the country to prepare for a possible American or coalition military operation.

To that end, I have altered our operations here at Humaymim air base from attacking the forces opposed to the Syrian government, and refocused them on detecting and possibly countering a US/NATO/coalition strike. I await specific orders from President Putin on what actions I am to take. As you can appreciate, relations between the United States of America and the Russian Federation are at a particularly sensitive stage.

The American destroyer USS Donald Cook is moving into a position from where it can launch strikes against Syrian facilities, as is a French Navy frigate. I have ordered vigilance operations against these two ships - they now claim that Russian Air Force aircraft are harassing them. We will continue to maintain surveillance and monitoring of these naval assets until ordered to stand down by Moscow.

Mr. President, with all due respect, you have placed me in a difficult and unnecessary position. The use of a chemical agent by Syrian troops has galvanized world public opinion against both of our countries.

While normally that is of little concern to Russian troops, we now run the risk of heightened international attention and potential military action that will complicate our efforts to re-establish your control over all Syrian territory, including that currently occupied by the Islamic State, the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, and the areas currently occupied by the Turks and their surrogates.

The use of chemicals was unnecessary - victory is at hand. As long as our joint forces limit weaponry to conventional munitions, we can kill our enemies with virtual impunity.

As always, the forces of the Russian Federation stand with our Syrian comrades. Please do not hesitate to seek our advice and counsel on future military operations.

Суровикин Сергей Владимирович


Translation: Mr. President, what were you thinking? Thanks to your stupidity, I now have a mess to clean up. This is probably going to cause an American military strike on Syria, placing my forces in a possible confrontation with American forces - something neither the Americans or us wants. Everything was on track in our military defeat of the opposition - the Americans were even making noises about leaving Syria, yet now they are planning an attack. In the future, consult with me before issuing anything but routine orders. Thanks a lot.