Military Events in Syria and Iraq Thread #4

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Yazata, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The Syrian army has, as predicted, now cleared also the part North of Maskanah, all the greater villages North of Maskanah are now under Syrian control. They also continue to advance in the South of their front:

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    Not many other news. The Barzah suburb of Damascus is now under complete government control, the agreement about the transport of some rebels with families to Idlib is finished. Some advances in the South against the US-supported NSA, Daesh intensifies its attacks against Deir Ezzor, but is unable to reach any success.

    PS: Islamic law has played not much role over a long time, the revival is quite new, and based on Saudi-Arabian and Qatar money, nothing else.

    Iran has, in the past, supported some terrorism. Today this is almost irrelevant. Hisbollah is de facto part of the government and the main military power of the state Lebanon, which is not under Sharia law. It probably also supports the Houthis in Yemen against the Saudi aggression, and some Shia groups in Afghanistan. This is already all what one could construct as "terrorism" if one likes very much. The support in Syria is invited by the government, so in no way terrorism according to international law.
     
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Defense Secretary General Mattis is talking tough about the last stages of the battle for Mosul. The anti-ISIS forces will be using tactics designed not to push fighters out of the positions that they still hold while allowing them to escape, but rather to kill them where they are currently located. He says, "Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We're not going to allow them to do so. We're going to stop them there."
     
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  5. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Not much change during the last days. The Syrian army continues to advance in East Aleppo:

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    Some small villages in the desert South of Palmyra have been taken.

    Interesting information about the political aims have appeared after the Iraqi forces have reached the Syrian border. One could, naively, think that this victory against Daesh in Iraq would make the Syrian Kurds happy. Not at all. Daesh on the other side of the border was, it seems, no problem at all. But Iraqi Shia militias - this seems to be the real enemy. Some Kurdish leaders have made quite aggressive claims, and the most interesting part is that they will never allow that these Shia forces establish a land connection with the Syrian government forces.

    This is already an information about the actual geostrategic aims of the US. Because it is clearly the US behind this - the Kurds would be happy with control of the territory where Kurds live. But it is the US which cares a lot about a land connection from Iran through the Shia-controlled parts of Iraq with territory controlled by the Syrian government. This is, actually, prevented by three different forces: the NSA (actually somehow renamed, afaiu now officially part of FSA), which is openly US paid and supported by US special forces, the Kurds, also openly US-supported, and Daesh. Which is, many believe, unofficially US-supported.

    If this picture is correct, then the following predictions can be made: Daesh will fiercely fight against the Syrian army, as well as against the Iraqi Shia militias. And it will give away, with not much defense, large territories to the Kurds as well as the NSA/FSA.
     
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  7. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    And the map above is already outdated, because the Syrian army has taken yet another quite large number of villages, one village more in the main direction along the M4 highway, together with the clearance of the whole area North of the river:

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    There is also a new attack direction from the West, the red arrow. I would guess that this is not more than a local test if there are yet remaining Daesh forces in this region, and nothing serious. If there is yet a strong enough Daesh defense, the attack will simply give nothing.
     
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently the Syrians have occupied the large agricultural town of Maskanah. My impression is that there wasn't a whole lot of fighting, so it looks like ISIS abandoned it.
     
  9. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, Maskanah has been taken. The usual strategy has worked again: The day before they had cut the M4 road South of Maskanah, so that it was almost encircled. This was enough to motivate Daesh to leave Maskanah. So, no wonder that the actual map already contains a lot South and South-East of Maskanah, this was already taken before.

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    So, the Aleppo province is now almost completely cleared from Daesh, only a few villages remain, and some part of desert. The Syrian army will in the next days enter the Raqqa province.

    There have been also some advances East of Palmyra, the Syrian army is now quite close, 6 km or so, to Arak.
     
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    In Mosul, ISIS occupies a steadily shrinking area, now restricted to the old city and a newer area adjacent to it.

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  11. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The Syrian army has started some new front against Daesh, near Salmiyah:

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    It goes along a gas pipeline, a part of which is under Daesh control, and started from above sides. The gas pipeline may be a point, but it is not even the most important one, because this is also a protection of one of the most endangered and most important communication lines, the only road from Homs to Aleppo. Attacks on this road have been common in the past, and several times lead to a breakdown for some weeks. And it is also important in the other direction: It was also quite easy to smuggle various things through this thin region from Idlib to Daesh.

    A few more villages have been taken by the Syrian army near the Aleppo-Raqqa border, so they are now already inside the Raqqa province.

    The most interesting point is that despite the losses on all fronts, Daesh has again intensified the battle for Deir Ezzor - where they are not attacked at all, but attack themselves. There were rumors about critical advances of Daesh during this offensive. But actually it seems that the attack is repelled.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
  12. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    A map from the East Aleppo advances of the Syrian army yesterday and today:

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    The thin white line is the Aleppo-Raqqa border, so that the liberation of the agricultural regions of Aleppo from Daesh is finished. What remains toward the Kurdish-controlled region is almost nothing, and will be finished in a few days. After this, it becomes interesting what these elite forces of the Syrian army will continue to do.

    The Kurds have started the fight for Raqqa. Many observers expect here an easy victory, and think that the main Daesh forces have already left Raqqa, to fight elsewhere (Palmyra, Deir Ezzor).
     
  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    It looks like the awaited SDF attack on Raqqah has begun. The United States Department of Defense says that Marine Corps M-777 howitzer batteries are engaged along with US Army Apache attack helicopters and USAF A-10's. I expect that US special forces advisers are deeply embedded with SDF fighters as well.

    https://www.defense.gov/News/Articl...by-coalition-launch-battle-to-liberate-raqqa/

    They warn that ISIS has had three years to prepare its defenses and that the coming battle will be hard. There's concern about civilian residents since ISIS has been shooting those who try to flee.

    Operation Inherent Resolve reports 24 air strikes on June 5 (the last day available) in and near Raqqah, some involving multiple aircraft. These struck 18 'tactical positions' including 8 'fighting positions', 12 vehicles and a weapons storage location. They report 11 other air strikes elsewhere in Syria on that day, 9 of them in Deir Ezzor against ISIS petroleum and fuel facilities, the other two against some kind of petroleum related construction site elsewhere.

    https://www.defense.gov/News/Articl...of-latest-strikes-against-isis-in-iraq-syria/

    I was wrong about the SDF trying to encircle Raqqah from the south first. That hasn't happened. Apparently that wasn't necessary as the Euphrates river is wide enough to create a water barrier. All of the bridges across it are either in SDF hands or have been destroyed. The SDF has penetrated into and largely taken the eastern-most outlying district of Raqqah and is nearing the city limits in the north. See the map here:

    http://www.edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_Ar_Raqqah_June_7_2017.png

    Other stories here:

    https://www.defense.gov/News/Articl...-raqqa-offensive-progress-continues-in-mosul/

    http://www.longwarjournal.org/archi...c-state-coalition-begins-raqqah-offensive.php
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
  14. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The Syrian army can completed the liberation of the Maskanah plain, and reached the positions hold by the Kurds.

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    Some greater area, with a lot of small villages in the desert has been taken by the Syrian army in the South (Suweida):

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    There have been also some territorial gains South of Palmyra. And in East Ghouta, one village has been taken by the Syrian army.

    Something possibly dangerous is developing in the South near the Iraq border, where, again, the US has bombed some pro-Syrian forces. The US justifies these attacks as self-defense, but this makes not much sense, given that they have no legal right to be there at all. There is a lot of information about this in the Russian media, so maybe some answer is in preparation.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
  15. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The SDF has taken the former Syrian 17th division army base north of Raqqah.

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  16. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The main news of yesterday is that the Syrian army has reached the Iraq border. Not at the most natural place, along the Damaskus-Bagdad road, because the US has occupied the Tanf border crossing and defends with US airforce and special forces this occupied Syrian territory, but North-East of it. Given that this is mainly desert territory, there are large parts with nobody inside, so that is not very clear who controls which territory, and different sources paint very different maps. Here some selection: The most humble one is the one which appeared first, but it is a quite official one, presented by the Russian MO. They are, imho, usually not very actual (and intentionally so - they do not aim at propaganda successes, and have the aim to hide some yet unknown progress to mislead the enemy. So, progress they present is usually progress which can no longer be hidden anyway.

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    Other sources present much larger chunks of territory now controlled by the Syrian army:

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    or locate the place where the border has been reached differently:

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    Whatever the place where the border has been reached, the result has a lot of political consequences. It was one of the main geopolitical aims of the Syrian war to prevent a stable land connection between Iran and Lebanon over Shia-controlled or Shia-friendly territory. A problem which the US has created itself in 2003 by overthrowing Saddam, giving Iran the chance to control, based on Shia vote, the Iraq government in a quite simple, democratic way. After recognizing their horrible error, the US has started to support Sunni terrorism to correct this, and, indeed, succeeded some time. Now this time is over.

    The US has hoped a lot to prevent this development, supporting Kurds in the North as well as FSA in the South, and somehow motivating Daesh to fight heavy for Deir Ezzor and near Palmyra instead of defending its own territory in Mossul and Raqqa. The hope was to use the fight against Daesh as an excuse to support other, new US proxies and to allow them to cut off Syria from Iraq by taking over all relevant territory near the border. This plan failed now.

    Note that the US played high here, by openly attacking with own aircraft the Syrian army on its way toward the Al Tanf border crossing, in open violation of any international law. Here, what happened has also changed the situation. This is because there was some legal justification for the US acting on Syrian territory, namely to fight Daesh. Now, the occupied Syrian territory does no longer have this excuse. The US-controlled enclave has no longer any bordering with Daesh-controlled territory, thus, fighting Daesh no longer works as a legal excuse.

    This is also interesting from point of view of the Russian reaction to these US attacks against the Syrian army. Many Russian commentators were quite angry about the Russian response being far too mild, and argued for shooting down the US aircraft attacking the Syrian army or heavily bombing the US special forces on Syrian territory. This is not the way Putin works. He has, instead, restricted the Russian reaction to diplomatic protests and in the media, presenting the US as an irresponsible aggressor, who openly violates international law, supporting Daesh by fighting the Syrian army. And, instead, cared about what really matters, namely about getting an overland connection between Syria and Iraq.

    Once this result has been reached, what would be the point of defending Al Tanf heavily with US airforce? It makes no longer any geostrategic sense. So, one can predict that this will no longer be worth enough to escalate. The further Syrian/Russian strategy in this area is therefore predictable. One will extend the corridor, mainly by fighting Daesh (the weakest part, because without open support by the US), but also, with lower intensity, to fight the US puppets and reducing their territory, avoiding direct confrontation with the US special forces. But every US action, every wounded pro-Syrian fighter, will be used for diplomatic and media pressure on the US.
    PS: Lol, yet another map:

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    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  17. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Yesterday the Syrian army restarted its offensive in West Raqqa and made immediately quite large advances. In particular, they have reached today the Itriya-Raqqa road:

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    There is also progress East of Palmyra, the Syrian army has taken the Arak oil field, and the village Arak seems to be taken too.

    There is also another front where one has to expect a lot of news during the next time, namely Daraa, a quite big town near the Jordanian border. It is subdivided into two halfs already over a long period of time. During the last month, there have been a lot of small fights, with Al Qaida reaching from time to time some progress. Over the time, this has accumulated toward Al Qaida taking a large part of a whole district. Essentially, this was the only place where Al Qaida could, during the last months, claim some success against the Syrian army. Recently some sufficiently strong reinforcements have been send to Daraa, and after a long preparation time some more serious attacks have been started now. The actual map of Daraa is the following:

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    To control Daraa completely would be a starting point for establishing control over the Jordanian border, which would be important because joepistole's comrades in this region are supported by the US from Jordanian territory. Jordan is not really happy with this, they are afraid of them coming back from Syrian and causing trouble in Jordan, but they cannot resist the "wishes" of the US. Whatever, they do what they can, and recently, when some of joepistole's comrades run away from Syria to reach Jordan, their forces have shot and killed some of them.
     
  18. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

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    But comrade, it's only illegal if the UN security council says so, correct? In any case, it's probably just a false flag operation by Iranian forces to blame the US for its own failure to control the area.
     
  19. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Of course, not. Or do your really think everything the US is doing is legal, simply because the US can veto away any UNSC resolution which says that it is illegal?
    No, the US completely officially has some forces in this region. https://www.almasdarnews.com/articl...e-artillery-combat-syrian-army-border-region/

    The Syrian army has taken East of Palmyra not only the key village Arak, but also the T3 pumping station together with the T3 airbase and some important water well South of it. Here a map - sorry for it being Russian, but it looks like the most reliable:

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    Taking T3 was not only very important for securing Arak and a possible further advance toward Sukhnah and Deir Ezzor from the South, it also opens the way toward T2. The point of the speculations made in that Russian forum is that there is not much for Daesh to build a strong defense along the road to T2 (and after this toward the Iraq border near Al Bukamal). Instead, to take the region around Sukhnah is expected to be difficult, a lot of mountains in the area which will be easy to defend. To advance toward T2 makes also sense to protect further the strategic land connection between Syria and Iraq against possible attacks from the US base. Actually, the Syrian army builds military bases at the key points along the path they have taken, and prepare themselves against a possible US/FSA attacks. But such a thin line along a single road is, of course, not that much, and so there may be hopes to cut this line again.
     
  20. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Not much news. The Syrian army has reached some success in West Raqqa, by taking control over some oil fields, moving East along the Salamiya-Raqqa road. Some progress also East of Palmyra taking the Arak gas fields and East Hama.

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    The US sends a lot of weapons to the Kurds. Russian observers wonder why among these weapons are a lot of anti-tank weapons, given that the Daesh tank army is not that big, and think that the Kurds are prepared to fight against Assad.

    A new development in Daraa. The Syrian army and joepistole's comrades make a ceasefire, 48 hours, for negotiations toward a longer ceasefire. Syria is not interesting fighting in Daraa now, finishing Daesh is simply more important.
     
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Probably for the same reason why the Russians used to distribute their own RPGs to insurgent groups everywhere.

    These weapons serve as shoulder-fired light artillery, useful for punching through the walls of buildings, blowing up cars, trucks and VBIEDs, and similar uses.

    That may be coming in the future, if Assad tries to reassert his control over the Kurds' Rojava statelet. The Kurds would almost certainly resist that.

    Of course the Kurds are in an extremely exposed position, with the powerful Turks immediately to their north. The Turks hate the Kurds and would like nothing better than to destroy Rojava themselves. But they don't want to see Assad doing it, since they (and the Saudis) oppose a Shi'ite crescent stretching from Iran all the way through Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. So the Turks and the Saudis don't want to see Assad regaining control over all of Syria.

    Which leaves the problem: who will occupy northern and eastern Syria , if it isn't Assad or the Kurds? Will the Turkish army surge in and occupy half of Syria?
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
  22. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    VBIEDs are, of course, an important use for such weapons. Not sure about Russian RPGs, but afaiu using American TOWs simply as light artillery would be real waste of money, with what is fired being more expensive than what is hit.
    This is, indeed, the American problem. The Shia land connection already exists now, and those NSA/FSA forces they have in the region to fight it are too weak to reach anything. So open use of US special forces together with air support - a clear case of aggression not justified anymore by any fighting against Daesh - was necessary to prevent their military collapse.

    It looks to me that the main job of the Tiger forces attacks West Raqqa is to prevent the Kurds from going further South. This is at least how they advance actually:

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    And in the South, the main point beyond establishing the Shia land connection was to prevent the FSA from going East.
     
  23. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The SDF are attacking inexorably from three sides in Raqqa, north, east and west. ISIS seems to have been fighting well, even launching counterattacks and temporarily retaking territory, but the general trend is inwards, confining them into an ever-smaller area. Daesh still occupies most of the denser heavily-built-up parts of the city.

    There are an unknown number of civilians still there (perhaps 50,000 out of a pre-war population of 220,000). Reports say that Daesh is shooting those who try to leave, evidently hoping to use them a human-shields.

    http://edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_Ar_Raqqah_June_18_2017.png
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017

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