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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    In Mosul, the Iraqis have reached the western end of the wrecked bridge that they were pushing towards yesterday. Now they control both ends and can set to work constructing a temporary bridge to bring in reinforcements from east Mosul.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39103701

    The battle is proceeding fairly rapidly. One reason for the 'coalition's' haste is concern for the hundreds of thousands of civilians in west Mosul who have very little food and water.
     
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  3. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Very doubtful. Because Syria would have Russian support. The jihadist have superior fighting morals, with some ready to suicide, and many to risk their life more than the Syrian army, but even much more in comparison with the Turks.
    But this is a problem with location in Turkey, not in Syria. The Russian choice of sides in case of a war is quite clear. These are Russians, not Americans.
    The Russian choice of sides in case of a war is quite clear. Don't forget, these are Russians, not Americans. They have a quite different tradition. So, there simply is no such question as to prefer the Turks in comparison with Syria.
     
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  5. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    According to https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-syrian-army-verge-recapturing-palmyra-map-video/ the Syrian army is now close to retaking Palmyra.

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    They have already taken the Palmyra triangle - which makes Palmyra important for communications, together with some decisive mountains which allow fire control of Palmyra.

    In East Aleppo, the Syrian army has taken another village from Daesh. And, it seems, the Turks now start to fight the Kurds.
     
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  7. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    There are rumors that Daesh is leaving Palmyra. It is expected that a lot of mines and sucide fighters are left, so that the Syrian army would need some time to establish control. But there have been other claims that Daesh is defending Palmyra. The Syrian army has taken the decisive mountains around Palmyra, and against them it makes not much sense to defend Palmyra. So it seems a question of time until Palmyra will be taken.

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  8. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    It seems now officially that Daesh has left Palmyra and the Syrian army has entered it. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/video-syrian-forces-officially-enter-palmyra/

    Another very interesting thing seems to have happened: The Kurds want to give a large part of the region between the pro-Turkish forces and Manbidsh to the Syrian army. It is not completely clear which part, but that there is something happening in this direction has been claimed by very different sources, inclusive Russian as well as NATO papers. In the extremal case the Kurds would give the whole region where they border with the Turkish forces up to the Euphrat to Syria, preventing in this way any confrontation with the Turks and preserving Manbidsh. A variant is that they give away only some part of it, while the part in the North, where the border line is along a river, remains under Kurdish (SDF) control. We will see. Such a cooperation makes sense - the Kurds get not only protection from the Turks, but they also get the possibility to travel between their two enclaves. The Russians get a continuation of the Kurdish attacks against Daesh around Raqqa as well as Deir Ezzor.

    The Syrian army also continues its advance East of Aleppo, taking again a lot of small villages:

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  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Very good news.

    If this map is anywhere near being correct, the Syrian army is getting in between the Turks and the Kurds all the way east to the Euphrates.

    http://www.edmaps.com/Battle_for_Northern_Syria_March_2_2017.png

    So do the Americans. The last thing Washington wants is the Turks fighting the Kurds. The US wants the Kurds to attack Raqqah which they won't do if the Turks are fighting them.

    I sense that the US and Russian interests are more aligned under Trump than under Obama. The US seems to have given up its objective of overthrowing Assad and is concentrating instead on getting rid of Daesh. Both the Syrian army and the Kurds are important components of that.
     
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    The Kurdish media outlet Rudaw has been reporting the arrival of US troops in Manbij. Unclear how many arrived yesterday and today, but the number is probably small. Photos of Humvees and an APC displaying an American flag.

    https://twitter.com/RudawEnglish/status/837961917423550465

    Their arrival has been confirmed by the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman. He points out that Americans have been in Manbij since the battle in which the Kurds wrestled the town away from Daesh, when US special forces were advising the Kurds and calling in airstrikes. Since then there have been about 60 Americans helping train the Manbij Military Council's forces.

    https://twitter.com/OIRSpox?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

    The spokesman says that the newly arrived US soldiers are there to "deter hostile acts" (by Turkey most likely, which has been threatening to attack Manbij) and to "ensure that there's no persistent YPG presence" (something to make Turkey happier).

    Apparently most of the YPG will stay back east of the Euphrates, while Manbij and its surrounding area are controlled by the largely-Arab Manbij Military Council (which is part of the SDF and a component of its federal structure).
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  11. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The advances of the Syrian army in East Aleppo continue, https://www.almasdarnews.com/articl...illages-east-aleppo-amid-new-push-deir-hafer/ names today five villages, Qara Al-Rashidiyah, Samiyah, Khirbat ‘Ashayni, Al-Saqiyah, and Jubb Al-Abyad, as liberated, which is close but not the same progress as in this map:

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    because Khirbat ‘Ashayni seems to be another name of Saadah, which is not marked as being taken on the map.

    I have not yet found any confirmation that the Syrian army has really get control over some of the Kurdish controlled villages between Manbidsh and the pro-Turkish forces North of this map. And it is also not yet clear that, if they would do it, if the pro-Turkish forces would care about this and not go toward Manbidsh.
     
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I haven't either. All I saw was a Russian report from several days ago I believe, that Syrian army forces were already moving into the area. I'm not convinced that ever really happened. (I hope it has.)

    The Syrians would be extremely exposed if they really are spread out along the front. I would guess that they would be a small 'trip-wire' force, meant to demonstrate to the Turks that if they advance, they will have started a war with the Syrian army. So the Turks would be fighting not only the Manbij Military Council and the YPG (which would quickly move in from the east to reinforce Manbij), but the Syrians as well who might attack from the south into al Bab.

    Actually, I expect that is why the small additional contingent of Americans was sent to Manbij and why the Americans were so quick to verify it publicly. The Pentagon wanted to send a message and they wanted the American soldiers to be seen. The new troops aren't really numerous enough or well equipped enough to stop the Turks, but their presence is meant as a deterrent, telling the Turks that if they push into Manbij, they will have created a confrontation with the Americans too.

    Syria is kind of like a giant game of chess with many players with different agendas forming many fleeting coalitions and alliances. That's one reason why it's so fascinating.

    In that vein, I've seen that Turkish media pundits are talking about Turkey closing Incerlik air force base (and presumably Turkish airspace as well) to American and OIR coalition use. It's nothing official so far, but I expect that the Turkish government wants that possibility out there on the game board.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  13. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Wow, the advances in East Aleppo continue - there are twitter informations that the villages Tabaret Madi, Umm Miyal, and Abu Hanaya (all marked on the map above) have been taken too.

    And, even more, the Salma mountain has been taken:

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    So much in one day means that there is not much of a defense left. If at all. Looks like a temp where the main job is to secure the places which have not even been defended. And, once there is no serious defense on the way toward the Euphrat, it means the whole region on the North of it will not be defended too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I suspect that ISIS is withdrawing its forces back towards its capital of Raqqah. The Kurds are right outside Raqqah and Daesh evidently feels the need to reinforce it.

    If they lose both Raqqah and west Mosul, that will mean the effective end of their "Islamic state", certainly as a nation-state that holds significant territory. They might still be a dangerous guerilla force though, still active in lots of small towns and villages in both Syria and Iraq. They may turn to increased terrorism aimed at the rest of the world and become something more like al Qaeda.

    I expect that their flow of new foreign recruits has probably just about ceased. They were exciting and trendy among young alienated Muslims when they seemed invincible, were spreading all over the map, were winning all their battles and seemed to be the fist of God. But now that their Caliphate is collapsing and has seemingly entered into its final days, that's no longer true. Even reaching 'Islamic state' territory is increasingly difficult for outsiders these days.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  15. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    I see that the last map I presented was quite too optimistic. The point is that there are two hills nearby named Salma, and the one marked on the map is probably the wrong one. Moreover, it is not even clear if it was taken. Moreover, the village Um Miyal on the map in #488 has been taken, but it is wrongly localized on the map. At least in two other maps it is between Tabarat Madi and Abu Hanaya. A more accurate map seems to be the following:

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    Here, above hills named "Salma" are marked as hills, but yet assigned to Daesh, which is reasonable as long as it is not clear which of the hills has been taken.

    PS: There are news that the following villages have been taken today: Abu Jadha Kabir (which is North of the Western Salma mountain) Rasm Al-Hamam (East of it), Ashieny and Al-ra’oufiyah (above West of the Eastern Salma mountain. All this makes sense only if it is the Western Salma mountain which has been taken yesterday.
     
  16. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Here a more actual map containing villages taken today:

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    But it is only more actual, after this the following villages have been claimed to be taken: The second Salma mountain (which was claimed, see above, already yesterday by confusion with the other one), Rasm Ahmar,
    Qasr Sallum, Abu Tina, Manfukha, Atibat, Fallutiya, Abajat, Safa. Rasm Ahmar is on the map, I have been able to identify only the locations of Safa, South of Rasm Ahmar, Abajat, which is at the canal and named here Abakiya, and Qasr Sallum, also on the canal between Abu Hanaya and Abajat.

    And here is another actual map, also not marking Rasm Ahmar (the red point near the front line) as taken, but, instead, some places North of it:

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    So, the Syrian army simply seems to follow the canal, remaining North of it, so that they have an easy defense line against Daesh South of it. And in the North, nothing seems to remain. The Tiger forces, which are elite forces, can continue this up to the Euphrat, and after this leaving the clearing of the Northern enclave to other, less famous parts of the Syrian army.

    A critical thing will be to take the water supply station, which gives the water for Aleppo. One would hope that it can be taken without serious destruction, but this is far from clear. I would think that this is the first priority for the next days. After this, they will probably go South, with the Jirah air base the next serious thing to care about.
     
  17. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Again a new map which is already old, so that it was supported with new marks of four other villages taken (red), and, only a short time later, adding three others (green), and, some moments later, yet another village (yellow):

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    The advances toward the Euphrat I have described already yesterday. Today the Syrian army has taken care about clearing the Northern part. This follows a usual tactic, the Tiger forces have used it many times: To leave some way out, not closing the pocket completely, but close enough that there is a danger, so that it makes no sense to defend it. This is the case here too: Yesterday, a quite large road has been taken, and now a single road remains for the whole Northern part - sufficient motivation to leave the North, and, that means, time to clear the Northern part.

    The advance toward the Euphrat has not been stopped, as seen by taking these three green villages. But a road to leave is yet left.

    Taking the yellow village before taking everything else in the Northern pocket may be simply missing information that that part has been already taken, or that it is already known that Daesh has withdrawn its forces from there, and there are simply not enough forces to clear all the villages at the same day. What one has to expect there are mines and a few suicide fighters, nothing more. Nonetheless, this also requires some time and care.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I doubt if there are many ISIS fighters left in that northern pocket. The reason why the Syrians have started advancing so quickly is that enemy fighters have pretty much disappeared and resistance is light.

    But ISIS is infamous for its improvised explosive devices, so entering these villages is still dangerous until they are cleared of unexploded ordinance and traps.
     
  19. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The town of Khafsah, and the nearby water plant and the pumping station have been liberated.

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    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  20. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    And a last map for today, which tells that the whole pocket has been already cleared.

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    On the other hand, it does not mark the water pumping station as taken. So, may be there is yet some doubt about this. Moreover, the map is far too pessimistic near the airbase, villages at the canal assigned here to Daesh have been liberated already yesterday, so that the distance to the airbase is not 6 km but 3 km or so.

    I see https://www.almasdarnews.com/articl...unded-aleppo-syrian-army-captures-al-khafsah/ claims that the Water facility is full of mines, and that's why it has not been taken yet.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  21. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The day begins with good news, the Syrian army has reached the Euphrat:

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  22. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Now the water pumping station and all the villages around have been taken by the Syrian army too. https://www.almasdarnews.com/articl...aleppo-isis-scatters-southeast-towards-raqqa/ Let's hope that the water supply for Aleppo can be started again in short time.

    The next thing to take would be the Jirah military airbase. Given that it also controls the main N4 highway Aleppo-Raqqa, which is also the main connection of Deir Hafr with Raqqa, one has to expect here much more serious defense from Daesh. The battle around this airbase will show how much real power has remained behind Daesh in this region. The large and easy advance up to now may have been simply the result of Daesh not seriously defending the whole region at least after giving up Al Bab.

    There is also information that the operation of giving some Kurdish-controlled villages to the Syrian army has started. Some 20 villages seem already under Syrian army control. A map of that region (Russian source, so with Russian names):

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    ,
    Essentially, these are all small villages, except Arima (in kyrillic Арима).
     
  23. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    The liberation of all the remaining villages North of the canal has been announced. This includes Tel Qawas, a mountain immediately near the pumping station for the canal.

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    Given that the canal is a quite natural line of defense, I would not wonder much if the SAA makes some short pause now. Or maybe after liberating the pumping station for the canal (which seems on the other side) and the surrounding villages.

    But I would not object if this appears wrong.

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    In fact, if there would be serious Daesh forces with the aim to defend the canal line, they would have heavily defended the Tel Qawas mountain located immediately before a critical place where one could go over the canal because the water is in pipelines pumped up. Once this hill has been taken so fast, there seems no serious defense of the canal itself too. And once there is no defense, it makes sense to go over the canal there too.
     

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