ANNA — Syria from the Russian Perspective

By Brent Allen Parrish

My friend and fellow Watcher’s Council member “Snoopy the Goon” from Simply Jews was nice enough to translate some very interesting and eye-opening video currently coming out of Syria. “Snoop” lived 28 years of his life in the former Soviet Union and now resides in Israel. Much appreciation to Snoop for his help.

The Abkhazian News Network (ANNA) has a number of Russian-speaking reporters who have embedded with Syrian armored units. ANNA has been uploading some very intense and sobering combat footage from the Syrian conflict. The ANNA reports are clearly pro-Assad.

Snoop provides a little more background on the Abkhazians:

So here it comes. First of all, a few words about Abkhazia. For too many years, the place was nothing more than a popular Russian resort provider on the Black Sea. Russians also become one of the more significant ethnic groups there, like in most other Soviet republics, but then Abkhazia was never even a republic, just a small “autonomous” area that formally belonged to Georgia. Formally. Because in Soviet Union times the internal borders meant nothing.

Today Abkhazia, knowing very well that their chances to be a nation of their own are nil, is just another piece of Russian territory, its sole significance being another thorn Russians like to stick into the Georgia’s leaders’ arses.

The names of the embedded reporting team are all Russian. The voiceover is pure Russian without any typical Abkhazian/Georgian accent. There really shouldn’t be any difference between the Russian coverage and the “Abkhazian.” Probably the Russian reporters in Abkhazia are more desperate for work than their brethren elsewhere and agreed to take up that assignment.

Re the translation: since there are intervals between the segments of voiceover, the only way I find to identify the segments with the visual part is by stating the time. So there:

ANNA News – Brief summary of the situation in Syria for September 15, 2013

  • 0:09 : Sep 15, Damascus province. In the Easter [name of the area unclear] the counter-terrorist operations aimed to destroy the militants of al-Nusra* (extremist wing of international terrorist organization al Qaeda) continue.
  • 0:29 In spite of their desperate resistance, army units finished the operation of separating the [districts] of Zamalka (?) and Jobar.
  • 0:36 At this time the terrorist group in the Jobar district is completely surrounded.
  • 0:49 Results of the interviews with the captured militants show the panic in the terrorists’ minds.
  • 1:00 All the supply means [of the al Nusra] are cut off. The underground passages that connect this district with the neighboring ones are being found and destroyed.
  • 1:20 During the recent check of the area, another long underground passage was discovered (as shown). It was also destroyed.
  • 1:30 During the search operations a well-hidden troves of arms and ammunition are being discovered. They include IEDs, mines, communications equipment and other military gear.
  • 2:10 The commanders take into account the difficulties of conducting offensive in the area. The dense buildings, the high-rises interspersed by one and two- stories houses, active enemy fire, a high percentage of professional mercenaries in the militant groups, together with proliferation of cover, nests of snipers and extensive branching out fortifications, barricades and minefields, create difficulties for activity of army units.
  • 2:50 In spite of all this, surrounding and dominating the area guarantees the result: total annihilation of the terrorists and liberation of this district.
    [Finished by the list of reporters]

(*) Interestingly, this clip, as the previous one, talks only about al-Nusra as a target of the loyalists’ operations.

ANNA News – [Syria] offensive to the north. Part 4. Completing the attack.

  • 00:15 Vehicles are returning for the next team of … (paratroopers or rangers, difficult to translate the term to its western equivalent)
  • 00:48 tanks are providing smoke cover to the APCs.
  • 01:20 Another rocket. But all the vehicles are out of line of sight of the enemy.
  • 02:07 Smoke cover. Excellent! Excellent!
  • 02:35 The gunner immediately opens fire in response.
  • 03:58 The militants’ shooting is very intensive, they attempt to stop the delivery of the troops.
  • 04:28 The arrival of ground troops and cleanup of the district continue.
  • 04:42 The vehicle provide cover for the troops, including fire cover.
  • 06:00 On the right flank, during the drive into the district, a rocket hit another APC. The driver succeeded to bring the burning vehicle to the park [do you see a park there?], thankfully there were no losses.
  • 06:50 [probably translating the speech by that gentleman] During the mission, we were hit by a rocket B-10 (?). Nobody was injured. We didn’t leave the vehicle and returned it [looks proud]. Unfortunately, the vehicle was lost due to the fire [smile – why?].
  • 07:38 On the third floor, in the inner part of the building, a group of bandits has barricaded themselves.
  • 08:25 In the house 79 a lot of IEDs were discovered.
  • 08:47 Be careful! In this house there are a lot of militants. Check with the infantry, if there is a need, we’ll bring a tank.
  • 09:33 There are a lot of terrorists inside the building.
  • 10:00 Another damaged APC is being evacuated by the maintenance vehicle.
  • 11:07 [Interview] We brought in soldiers and ammo. On the way back our engine was hit by a rocket. We have transferred to another APC, called for a towing vehicle and towed it away. Now it will go in for repairs. Thanks God, nobody was injured. Everyone is alive and well.
  • 11:40 Finally the building (that appears in the report above) was cleaned up.
  • 12:00 The mission was completed, and the troops are preparing to return. During the operation areas important for the highway security were cleaned up.  Army losses were: 2 dead and 13 wounded. Three APC damaged. At least 36 militants were eliminated.

My observations from watching a number of these videos is that the Syrian armored units the “crazy Abkhaz” are embedded with appear to be somewhat better-trained than other Syrian units I’ve seen. Of course, that’s just based on video evidence I’ve watched.

ANNA News embeds have installed GoPro HD cameras on the top of Syrian tanks and armored personnel carriers, providing real-time footage of urban combat from a point-of-view (POV) perspective–sometimes with shocking results:

The relationship between Russia and Syria goes way back. There is even a sect in Syria called the Circassians who originated from the Russian Caucus region.

The Russians have a vital interest in maintaining their access to the warm-water harbor at Tartus. Additionally, the Russians are the major supplier of arms to the Assad regime.

One of the claims being made right now by those eager to strike Syria for the alleged August 21 chemical attack east of Damascus is that the Syrian civil war is really a regional war and must be stropped.

Granted, there are skirmishes along the Syrian border. There is fighting between YPG Kurdish rebels and Syrian militants at the Turkish border. There has been fighting in Northern Lebanon that has spilled over from Syria–not really surprising when one considers the fact Hezbollah is fighting in Syria against the so-called FSA on behalf of Assad, and all supported by Iran. But these skirmishes do not equate to a full-blown regional war … yet.

Fighters of the Kurdish YPG militia, the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), alongside the group’s flag in northern Syria (photo credit: screenshot al-Jazeera video, YouTube)

In my opinion, what could ignite a full-blown regional conflict is the US going off half-cocked with no real strategy or objective. Simply striking Syria in an “unbelievably small” manner is an exercise in foolishness–a derelict strategy primarily borne out of political expediency and the perceived need to “save face.” Hardly a plan for victory, or any plan at all.

About Brent Parrish

Author, blogger, editor, researcher, graphic artist, software engineer, carpenter, woodworker, guitar shredder and a strict constitutionalist. Member of the Watcher's Council and the Qatar Awareness Campaign. I believe in individual rights, limited government, fiscal responsibility and a strong defense. ONE WORD: FREEDOM!
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