Military Events in Syria and Iraq Thread #4

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Actually, the interest has shifted to the Iraq. The US has finally decided to start a war, against two states at once, Iran and Iraq, by openly admitting the murder of high ranking official persons of those states.

If they'd did nothing, you'd be bragging about how Americans are almost as cowardly and incompetent as Russians. BTW Iran is already at war with Iraq, Soleimani was responsible for killing hundreds of Iraqi protesters and plotting a state coup, so killing him actually protects more Iraqis than it harms.
BTW Iran is already at war with Iraq, Soleimani was responsible for killing hundreds of Iraqi protesters and plotting a state coup, so killing him actually protects more Iraqis than it harms.

Wasn't that also the case when he was working with the US before Iran was named in the axis of evil?

Google "When the United States and Qasem Soleimani worked together", it's the title of a Washington Post article behind a paywall.
This flag means a big war coming in short time or already happening:

And it really means big war. The war with Iraq was not considered sufficient for using this symbol.
BTW Iran is already at war with Iraq, Soleimani was responsible for killing hundreds of Iraqi protesters and plotting a state coup, so killing him actually protects more Iraqis than it harms.
Complete nonsense. Soleimani has done a lot fighting the IS, in Iraq as well as in Syria. Much more than that "coalition" which targeted the IS only if they attacked the Kurds. Otherwise, they either did nothing or were the airforce of the IS, as happened in Deir Ezzor, where the US airforce attack against the Syrian army allowed the IS to split the enclave into two parts - the airport and the town.

There is no war between Iraq and Iran. The most powerful Iraq parties are pro-Iranian, even if some other forces prefer some distance toward Iran. Your claims about plotting a state coup are complete nonsense. The US tried some color revolution, which failed. Iraqi police were strong enough and did not bother to kill the necessary number of "protesters" to stop this US regime change attempt.
Wasn't that also the case when he was working with the US before Iran was named in the axis of evil?
Even after this. In particular, they cooperated to some degree fighting the IS.
The latest news suggests that the USA is preparing for a fight to stay in Iraq by directly ignoring the Iraq Government call.
The latest news suggests that the USA is preparing for a fight to stay in Iraq by directly ignoring the Iraq Government call.
That would be quite stupid, but one cannot expect anything but stupid decisions from the US, independent of who rules.

From a diplomatic point of view, the murder was much worse than imaginable:

Also from the same article:

So Trump threatening to destroy 52 Iranian sites – including priceless cultural heritage – is a bluff. Worse: this is the stuff of bragging by an ISIS-worthy barbarian. The Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas. ISIS nearly destroyed Palmyra. Trump Bakr al-Mar-a-Lago wants to join in as the destroyer of Persian culture.
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Zeinab Soleimani
"You crazy Trump, the symbol of ignorance, the slave of Zionists, don't think that the killing of my father will finish everything,"

don't sugar coat it, tell us how you really feel.
After one month of rest, which was based on political reasons, the Syrian army has started again its offensive against the terrorists in Idlib.

And, as before, already at the first day a lot of villages have been taken. First, the continuation of the offensive against Maarat al Numan has shown the following results:


So, essentially at the first day several last villages on the way to Maarat al Numan have been taken.

PS: Actually, Talmenes and Maar Shamsha are under Syrian army control too. So, only a few hundred meters remains to the town.

There has been also another line of attack, North of it:


Moreover, there is fighting around Aleppo.
Now there are also first confirmed advances in Aleppo:

South of this part there has been also some progress toward Chan Tuman. Progress in this region already after the second day is unexpected, given that in this region there have been heavy fights during the battle for Aleppo, and the Syrian army was unable to move them further away from Aleppo, even accepting the consequence that the terrorists attack regularly the town with rockets. So, there are sufficiently if not heavily fortified defenses of the terrorists.

Progress in Maarat al Numan continues:

This map shows the advances I have mentioned yesterday as PS. Wadi al Dayf is a military base, it has been already taken (even if according to one source only partially) and fighting has already at the border of Maarat al Numan.

Quite impressive progress of the Syrian army: They have cut the M5 highway North of Maarat Numan, have taken several villages on both sides. The village Maasaran in the North-East has been taken too.

They are about to cut also the M5 South of the town and at Binine another road in the direction of North-West of it:

The information about the advances around Aleppo is less clear, but it is clear that there have been serious advances. Here is the most plausible map I have found for the South of Aleppo:


together with another map of the same region which has marked the advances by red arrows:
The Syrian army has made further advances South of Maarat al Numan, as shown in the following map:

Essentially, they have taken the whole M5 below Maarat al Numan, except for the region around the Turkish observation point. So, this will be, in short time, the third Turkish observation point completely encircled by the Syrian army. The attacks are now directed against Kafrumah, but there is some more serious resistance - no wonder, if it would be taken, the encirclement would be almost complete.

North of Maarat al Numan the Syrian army did not stop, but continues to advance toward Saraqib. The following map gives an impression about the situation:

So, the Syrian forces are also not that far away from Saraqib too.
A great success today: Maarat al Numan has been taken:

This followed after the town West of it, Kafrnumah, has been taken with a serious fight. Maarat al Numan has been taken essentially without fighting. There was only fighting reported East of Maarat al Numan, in the Wadi al Dayf a military base. It has, indeed, not been taken completely before, but only in parts. Some remaining part was only encircled.
The first village from Maarat al Numan toward the North West has been taken too.
The success of the Syrian army continues. They made today large progress in the direction toward Saraqib:

There is actually fighting in Maarrat Dibsa, but there have been already claims about Tell Mardikh being taken. The information about yet fighting in in Maarrat Dibsa seem much more reliable.

Then, in Aleppo some serious progress has been reached: Khan Touman has been taken:

That the quarter Rashedin 5 has been taken is also quite important, it means that the defenses of the terrorists have seriously collapsed. Rashidin 5, as well as Rashidin 4 which has not yet been taken, have been serious bastions of the terrorists with good defenses.

The terrorists have tried a serious counterattack from West of Maarat al Numan, with several sharia mobiles, but without success.
During the last days, the advances have been somewhat smaller, but nonetheless on several of the fronts. First of all, the M5 between Khan Sheikhun and Maarat al Numan has been completely liberated and secured by taking the nearby villages on the other side too.

Actually, the highway is under repair. There was a Turkish observation point, but when it has been encircled, it appeared empty.

Then, on the way toward Serakib, they have taken several villages left and right of the M5:

This makes sense, given that usually the Syrian army tries to encircle greater towns almost completely (leaving a way to run away). Then, the Turks behave slightly insane, and have created even three "observation posts" around Serakib (the blue discs). Up to now, these observation points have not changed much, the Syrian army was simply going around them and encircling them.

On the Aleppo front, South of Aleppo several villages have been taken:

The terrorists have started a heavy attack in Zahra, a suburb North-West of Aleppo, with several dhihad mobiles and a lot of people. The attack failed, there have been no changes of the map.
Today the Syrian army has reached a quite impressive success - namely, they have cut the M4.

On the other hand, on the Aleppo front the terrorists have retaken a village which has been taken a day before, Zaytan. But I see that on the map of the Aleppo front Zaytan is not even marked yet as taken by the Syrian army. So, this map from two days ago is again the actual map.

Cutting the M4 is also politically important. The problem is that Erdogan did essentially anything imaginable close to really starting a war with Syria to prevent it. Erdogan's reaction to the cut will be, therefore, quite interesting.
During the night, there was a heavy counterattack from the Eastern side to retake Nayrab and the control over the M4. While the terrorists claimed that they had taken almost all of the village, but then, under heavy attacks from the air, they nonetheless had to retreat, after killing a lot of enemies (the usual excuse) the Syrian side denies even such a partial success.

Instead, the Syrian side has used the night to create some panic in Serakib (by reconnaissance in battle, that means, small reconnaissance units start attacks just to see where the enemy positions are located - similar things they have done as in Khan Sheikhun, as in Maarat al Numan) and by taking some villages as on the Western side (Kadoura and South of it Ruweiha) as on the Eastern side: The villages Luf and Inqirat marked by the orange line in the map above have been taken before and are confirmed, now the historical site Ebla and the village Tall Mardikh North of it have been taken. The last two seem essentially to have been given up, probably to use the fighters to retake the M4.

So, if yesterday some people cared about the possibility of counterattacks against Dadikh to encircle the troops on the M4, this is no longer a plausible danger.
Counterattacks against Nayrab continue, without success. The terrorists have been essentially giving up all the territory South-East of Serakib:

On the other hand, Hatesh has, again, successfully counterattacked South of Aleppo, and retaken one, or possibly even two or three, villages in this region.
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Once yesterday the region South-East of Saraqib has been cleared from terrorists, today this has been done for the whole region East of Saraqib. Here is how the new frontline looks like:

By the way another Turkish observation point has been encircled.

These are not big advances of some elite forces of the Syrian army - the whole region simply has been given up by the terrorists to defend the danger created by the real elite forces in Nayrab, and standard Syrian army units are able to take the villages against the few (if there are such at all) remaining forces. There has never been information about air attacks for prepatation or heavy fighting in this region. The heavy fighting is there, but at other places - around Nayrab, in direction of Sarmin, and in the South of Alepppo.

There at least some of the losses caused by the counterattacks have been retaken.
A few hours later more news: The M5 has been cut North of Seraqib, in the village Al Duweir, from South-Eastern side. That means, Seraqib is almost encircled now.

So, the usual technique used to get greater towns - the town will be almost encircled, leaving one road for running away.

The information from terrorist side is that the terrorists have essentially left the town and the government forces are in the process of taking it. There have been even claims that it has already been taken, but the Syrian side up to now rejects such claims.

Whatever, Seraqib will be taken in short time, so this is a good moment to see what has been reached by "minor border skirmishes" (copyright CptBrk) during the last months. Here, the more yellowish color marks the gains reached during the period from the second half of December up to now:


In a greater picture, this looks like this:

Here, the advances of the first part of the actual offensive, during the second half of December, of course count as 2019, and the large advances of territory of the last three-four days have not been incorporated. The territory gained 2018 looks impressive here, but one should not forget that a large part of it is almost desert and contained neither important towns nor important communication lines.

In this sense, the 2019 gain of Khan Sheikhun and the part of Hamas South of it was more important than that large territory because it was part of the key territory, the power base. And the same holds for the region liberated during the last two months - this is key territory of the enclave.

What other parts of the enclave count as such key territory? Certainly Idlib itself and some of its environment, including Arihah, which is immediately endangered now. Then, the region around the remaining part of the M5, together with the part NW of Aleppo around Anandan. And, last but not least, Jisr al Shugur.

What remains is the Al Ghab valley South of Jisr al Shugur, which is economically important because of its agriculture, but useless from a military point of view, and otherwise almost useless mountainous regions. Those near the Turkish border may be left for quite long time to some Turkish-controlled gangs, for political reasons, similar to the small region in the North of Syria taken by the Turks from the Kurds last year, even if everything else goes nicely for Assad. Simply, Erdogan wants to get rid of the Syrian refugees on Turkish territory, and that territory in the North is simply too small for them all.

Given that the Syrian army has already entered the M5 North of Saraqib, the M5 and its environment will be cleared anyway during the next time. After this, the environment of Aleppo will have the highest priority for Assad. But it seems also impossible for Assad to leave Idlib itself to the terrorists for some longer time. With Idlib under government control, Jisr al Shugur would be the natural next target.

This natural order by priority for Assad may be changed pragmatically in dependence of the military ability, the weakests points of defense of the terrorists, Russian interests (their airbase is regularly attacked by drones from the Jisr al Shugur region) and various politics.
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