Military Events in Syria and Iraq thread #3

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Yazata, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Please keep all discussion of Russia, the Russian economy and how much you hate Russia and Russians on the other two threads. Let's preserve this thread for discussion of actual military developments in the Middle Eastern war. Discussion of Russia is only relevant if it concerns Russian military activity in these countries.

    Nusra front and some of the other rebel groups allied with it near Aleppo have apparently launched an offensive against Syrian army held territory south of Aleppo from the direction of Idlib.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleppo_offensive_(April_2016)

    News today is that they have used a surface to air missile to shoot down a Syrian SU-22 jet that was conducting air strikes against that offensive. The pilot was captured and appears pretty beat up in the photos. Unclear if the injuries were the result of ejecting or whether they came at the hands of his captors.

    http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/04/syrian-fighter-jet-downed-in-aleppo-province.php

    The obvious question is - where did Nusra and co. get their hands on missiles? My guess is that they come from Saudi Arabia or Qatar, which have been funneling arms to the Islamists through Turkey. There are reports that the missile was actually fired by Ahrar al Sham, an Islamic Front Salafist rebel group that reportedly receives Saudi support.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
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  3. pjdude1219 screw watergate i want to know about zaragate Valued Senior Member

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    Wow this whiny bullshit again. If you can't handle hearing the whole picture argument you don't need to be in the debate. Just because your pro dictator doesn't mean you get to demand people not criticize them in your favor.
     
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Islamic State forces are attacking al Dumeir, only about 20 miles northeast of Damascus. The town, which is fairly large, has Syrian army in its outskirts, holding a nearby military base and a power plant, while the downtown area is held by an assortment of 'rebel' groups, notably the Jaish al Islam (an ostensibly "moderate" rebel group funded by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, that calls for Shariah law and for driving non-Sunnis out of Syria.) Isis were close by to the east. Now Isis is attacking westwards and has entered the town. Reports are that ISIS has kidnapped 300 workers from a cement plant (other reports say about half the workers were taken and the rest were able to escape). The Syrian army is fighting ISIS and air strikes are occurring, seemingly Syrian and not Russian.

    I'm guessing that ISIS intends this as payback for the loss of Palmyra and al Qaryatain, and as evidence that they can still take territory and aren't on the run.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/re...says-300-workers-kidnapped-Islamic-State.html

    http://www.voanews.com/content/islamic-state-kidnaps-three-hunderd-workers-damascus/3274794.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently militias associated with the 'Free Syrian Army' have been fighting a see-saw back and forth battle against ISIS along Turkey's southern border, east of Azaz, for the last two weeks. Currently they seem to be winning and have advanced about 6 miles or so eastwards.

    http://www.edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_Azaz_April_7_4PM.png

    Given the rebels' position in Mare, it looks like the small village of Dabiq is being out-flanked on three sides.

    This is important since apparently there's a Hadith that says that an army of "Romans" will confront Islam in the final apocalyptic battle between good and evil at this spot, and God will intervene decisively and miraculously on the side of the Muslims. ISIS is kind of an "end-times" cult and believe that the final events of the end times are presently unfolding, with them as major players (and presumably the Christian West playing the 'Roman' role).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dabiq_(magazine)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dabiq,_Syria

    Historically, the Muslims and the Byzantines fought many battles in this general area, and despite the Byzantines technically being Romans (the East Roman Empire which lasted a thousand years longer than the Western and didn't fall until 1453), the world never ended.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Islamic State are fighting back furiously and seem to have recaptured most of the territory along the Turkish border that the 'FSA' took so recently. They obviously want to protect their outlet to Turkey. In the space of a couple of days, ISIS has rolled back the situation to that of March 5.

    The Syrian airforce and the Russians don't have any motivation to fly air support up there next to the Turkish border, in support of forces dedicated to bringing down the Syrian government. So if the 'FSA' is going to get any close air support, it will have to come from the 'Coalition' or from the Turks.

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/azaz_april_11__10_pm.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    It looks like the little Azaz enclave north of Aleppo is in serious danger of falling to ISIS.

    After expanding east along the Turkish border, the FSA has lost all of that territory and a lot more. ISIS is inside the town of Mare and pushing westwards towards Azaz itself.

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/azaz_april_14__2_pm.html
     
  11. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Over the last couple of days, Islamic State is once again also attacking Syrian government forces south of Lake Jabbul near Khanasser (scene of fighting about a month ago), threatening the only government controlled land connection between Aleppo and the rest of Syria. They appear to have advanced perhaps 7 miles westwards and have taken a number of small villages.

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/khanasser_april_16.html
     
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Today's Wall Street Journal has a page 1 story about this. It appears that after the Brussels attacks the US and the Europeans have been pressuring Turkey to close its border with the Islamic State. The Turks were told that if they didn't do that, the US would provide military support (possibly including US Special Forces) to help the Syrian Kurds do it. But allowing the Syrian Kurds to link up their Afrin enclave in the northwest and their main area east of the Euphrates, so as to control the full length of the Syria-Turkish border, is anathema to the Turks, a 'red line' that they will not allow to be crossed.

    So the Turks hit on the idea of their Turkish-supplied 'FSA' proxies pushing eastward out of Azaz and seizing the ISIS/Turkish border area between Afrin and the Euphrates so as to keep the Kurds from grabbing it. That explains the recent FSA offensive. Here's its maximum extent, reaching east of al Rai to near Ayyash.

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/azaz_april_8__6_pm.html

    Unfortunately for that plan, the Islamic State counterattacked and the FSA offensive has fallen apart. Turkey has moved artillery to the border and are shelling ISIS forces on the other side. And the United States has begun flying air strikes against the advancing Islamic State fighters.

    A recent (Thursday) snapshot of the grim situation along the border:

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/azaz_april_14__2_pm.html

    And a larger-scale picture of the border area where Islamic States abuts Turkey, as of a month ago, before the recent FSA offensive and its failure:

    http://www.edmaps.com/Battle_for_Northern_Syria_March_5_4PM.png
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently the Turkish artillery and the US air strikes have pushed ISIS a little farther away from the Turkish border than they were a week ago, but Daesh is still attacking the Azaz enclave. They haven't moved any closer to Azaz itself but there appears to be considerable fighting inside the small town of Mare.

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/azaz_april_20__2_pm.html
     
  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Fighting between the rebels and ISIS around the Azaz enclave is still continuing, with a very gradual shrinkage of the enclave. I've heard reports that a small number of Turkish troops have crossed the border to support their rebel surrogates. Shelling is continuing across the Turkish border, by both sides apparently, both Turkey firing south and ISIS firing north.

    http://www.edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_Azaz_May_22_3AM.png

    Bigger news is the possibility that a Syrian Kurdish attack might be underway against ISIS north of Raqqah.

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/ar_raqqah_may_25.html
     
  15. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The rebel-held Azaz pocket continues to shrink. ISIS has decisively cut the only rebel-controlled road between Azaz and Mare and advanced to within little more than a mile of the Turkish border along a broad front east of Azaz.

    If Turkey is going to intervene, they need to do it soon.

    http://www.edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_Azaz_May_27_2PM.png
     
  16. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The battle for the Azaz pocket continues to go badly for the rebels. ISIS is storming Mare after cutting it off yesterday. (I believe that Mare is a base for Salafists supported by the Saudis and Qataris.) The rebels are trying to punch a column through from Azaz to assist their critically endangered compatriots, but without a lot of success. Meanwhile ISIS forces are still fighting westwards towards Azaz. (Which is run by rebels more aligned with Turkey, I believe.) And the Kurds are taking advantage of the chaos to take territory on the west side of the besieged pocket.

    I think that these may be the end-times for the rebels in the Azaz pocket, so Turkey needs to decide whether it wants to come to their rescue. If they don't, the rebels and the civilians from Azaz will flood over the border into the Kilis refugee camp in Turkey. The entire Turkish project to build and support refugee camps on the Syrian side of the border will collapse if ISIS is allowed to overrun them.

    http://www.edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_Azaz_May_28_3PM.png
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    It looks like ISIS is counterattacking north of Raqqah. The Syrian Kurd advance seems to have halted and ISIS seems to be advancing east of Ayn Issa and Base 93.

    One would think that ISIS would be very determined to protect their de-facto capital in Raqqah.

    http://www.edmaps.com/Syria_Battle_for_Ar_Raqqah_May_26.png
     
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    There are reports that civilians from Azaz are fleeing into the Syrian Kurdish (SDF) Afrin enclave to escape ISIS, which may have cut the Azaz-Turkish border road (at least making it dangerous with shellfire). There's also speculation that the desperate rebels in Mare may offer the town to the SDF in much the way that the surrender of neighboring Tal Rifat was negotiated, if the Kurds can prevent ISIS from overrunning it. I'm not sure where these reports are coming from (they are on the internet, so they have to be true!) and may be the Syrian Kurds talking up their own importance.
     
  19. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Iraq's mostly Shi'ite army has launched an attack on ISIS-held Fallujah, after gradually encircling it over the last few weeks. The attack is apparently coming from three sides (the fourth is the Euphrates river). The city normally has a population of about 300,000. 50,000 civilians are said to remain. About 1,200 ISIS fighters are putting up a fierce defense, particularly on the south side of the city. Most of the ISIS fighters are said to be from Fallujah itself, which has long been a hotbed of radical Sunni Islamists. (The city has 200 mosques and Iraqis call it 'the city of mosques'). So ISIS has apparently received some support from the locals who can't stand the Shi'ite-dominated government of Iraq.

    ISIS supporters are punishing Baghdad for attacking Fallujah by detonating a series of car-bombs in the capital.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-36410982
     
  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    After crossing Fallujah's city limits yesterday, the Iraqi army advance seems to have stopped today, at the edge of more heavily built up areas. Iraqi shelling continues, as do airstrikes conducted by American jets. The ISIS fighters appear to be well dug in with trenches and tunnels, and are fighting doggedly.
     
  21. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Interesting things are happening in East Ghouta, East of Damascus. During this month, the Southern part of this rebel enclave has been cleared completely by the Syrian army. Now they are trying to go North into the central part of East Ghouta. Yesterday they have crossed a river - a natural defense line, and heavily defended. Today they have taken a "strategic Military Construction Base" North of this river, a good starting point for future actions. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-hezbollah-enter-east-ghoutas-central-region/

    The other possibility about the attack against Raqqa is that it is only fake. In fact, it looks like the Kurds have started to attack around Tishreen, obviously with the aim to take Manbidzh.
     
  22. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The Kurds make further progress toward Manbidzh. They have now control over a second bridge over the Euphrat, North of Tishreen, half the way from Tishreen toward the Turkish border, directly East of Manbidzh, and taken about 17 villages on the West side of this bridge. So that they are now not only South of Manbidzh, but also East of Manbidzh. https://twitter.com/EmmanuelGMay/status/738292238556499968
     
  23. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, it may have been a diversion and the main Kurdhish attack may be across the Euphrates towards Manbij.

    They have surged across the bridge and are also expanding west of the Tishrin dam. But ISIS is predictably fighting back east of Manbij. (This attack really threatens their nothern positions.)

    http://www.edmaps.com/html/syrian_civil_war_in_maps.html

    It looks to me like ISIS' access to the north and to the Turkish border passes through a gap between the Kurds west of Tishrin and the Syrian army at the Kuweires air base east of Aleppo. If the Kurds and the Syrian government forces could link up in that area, it would be a major victory.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016

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