Extremal Situation near Palmyra (Events & Analysis)

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The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group launched another big offensive near eastern gates of Palmyra.

Extremal Situation near Palmyra (Events & Analysis)

Earlier this week, a massive offensive was launched by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in the Palmyra countryside, the Al-Masdar news portal reported. Terrorists targeted several sites, located around the city, trying to return the territories, which they lost earlier.

On Saturday, another big offensive was launched by the terrorist group near eastern gates of Palmyra. IS terrorists committed a successful suicide attack on Syrian troops and captured the strategic Grain Silos. After that, terrorists launched an assault on Jabal Tar. It was the first time in the last several months, when the IS has had a presence in this mountain chain.

As a result of these actions, the terrorist group is quickly approaching to Palmyra, as its members surround the city from all defensive flanks.

According to a military source in Tartous, the High Command of the Syrian Army is currently considering redeployment of its elite Tiger Forces to the Palmyra front in order to help to drive out the terrorist group from the area. However, there still has not been any official confirmation of this information.

Extremal Situation near Palmyra (Events & Analysis)

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The situation around the Syrian city of Palmyra has ratcheted up sharply. There is a real possibility of taking the city by the IS terrorist group.

The breakthrough and rapid advancement of the IS took place due to fundamental mistakes of commanders of units of the Syrian Army, deployed in the Palmyra area, who just let their guard down. They did not pay due attention to fortification activities, processes of equipping positions with engineering and combat hardware, as well as were carelessness during tactical reconnaissance and assessment of the forces and means of attackers. As a result, commanders did not report the all necessary information to the higher command in Damascus on time, thereby, deluding it. However, this fact does not remove the responsibility from the central command.

There are several reasons, which explain the emergence of so many mistakes at one and the same time:

  • Wrong informing from outlying areas.
  • Negligence in reconnaissance.
  • Focusing of the attention on the military operation in the city of Aleppo.
  • Unexpected redeployment of new units of the IS group from Iraq to Syria, as well as involvement of the most experienced IS commanders of the senior and middle levels in the offensive.
  • Unexpected large number of suicide bombers, involved in the operation

In the afternoon of Saturday, the Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces started to carry out massive airstrikes on the advancing units of the IS, its logistic support and sustainer convoys in order to remedy the situation. According to some reports, the work of the air power forced the IS units to suspend the offensive. However, it is obviously that the fighting will continue with the onset of the night time.

The Syrian command is well aware that the situation cannot be solved only by airstrikes. For this reason, combat-ready units of the Syrian Armed Forces are urgently being dispatched to the area of Palmyra. The substantial forces have already been redeployed there. There is information that there are Russian military specialists, and not only advisors, among the redeployed units of the Syrian Army. The penetrating force on the flanks of the IS advancing units is also being built up. Apparently, Damascus considers a possibility of a large-scale counterattack or diversionary operations.

In any case, it appears that the IS terrorist group has already lost the initiative. Apparently, initially, terrorists planned to advance rapidly and capture the city within 72 hours. IS almost managed to do this, but only almost. Despite all the mistakes, about which we talked before, the military machine of Syrian-Russian-Iranian allies has begun to move. Now, the IS units are in a difficult situation. Perhaps, the IS command believes that this night and Sunday morning will be key in the operation, but the operational situation at the front at 22:00 pm on December 10 is already not in favor of the IS.

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  • paul

    I am grateful that SouthFront managed to put out this analysis. Things are
    clearer to me now and I believe what has been written as SouthFront’s
    analysis in the past has proved very reliable. I expect to see some
    improvements on this front in the coming hours and days.

    • John Brown

      This is an opportunity. Israel / Isis /USSA thought they could pull this off before Alleppo
      fell. This is a long planned offensive to divert Syrian forces from Alleppo. To late Alleppo fell to fast!

      Also these ISIS reinforcements are not from Mosul they are from Turkey, part of other 9,000 men army to take Al Bob. Turkey does not have to take Al Bob, it would just be a flag changing ceremony.

      Turkey needs Russia to destroy these militants in Syria so Israel, Saudi and the USSA etc. can ‘t use them to over throw the Turkish government. Turkey has finally realized this is all part of the Yalon plan in carve up Turkey too, which is why Israel gave the order for the failed coup in turkey.

      These ISIS units are now out in the open. Syria should make an encirclement movement
      around these ISIS units and then call in the Russian and Syrian airforces to
      wipe them out. When ISIS are engaged in combat the Russia air force will know where
      there are. Use some of those big Granit missiles on the admiral Kunetzov and strategic bombers etc. to blast them. They are out in the open not in a city, no civilian casualties.

      This ISIS attack is a move of desperation by Israel / the USSA and Saudi etc. ISIS should have stayed on the defensive, they could have held out for a long time.

      It may now be possible to advance all the way to Deir Azour as these are the units that were blocking that advance which they won’t be doing if they are wiped out. Don’t let them escape, keep them engaged pursue them and use air power to crush them. As Soviet battle strategy showed in world war 2, when you have the enemy on the run you don’t let up, attack, attack, attack, the point of break through. This is why Alleppo fell so fast, Russian commanders there had the Syrian army keep advancing once IS defenses fell so ISIS would not have time to set up a new line of defense.

      • John Whitehot

        Granit missiles against ground forces? are you kidding?

        • sólyomszem

          air force

          • John Whitehot

            :DDD

          • sólyomszem

            there is a new powerful attack of isis. they took half of palmyra.
            are you still laughing?

          • John Whitehot

            oh noes, I’m so saddened. And you’re so hurting my feelings. lmfao.

        • batavian01

          4,000 Jihadists all at close quarters. Turkey shoot time.

      • Jesus

        Even if ISIS infiltrates in the city, their supply and support columns are exposed to punishing air attacks. Their presence in the city would be thwarted by being cut off from reinforcements and supplies. SAA needs to deploy about 2000 troops in the area to assist the defenders that were overwhelmed by the initial offensive; ISIS units might try to disperse to avoid air and missile attacks, dispersed and disjointed units can dealt easier at opportune times. Syrian and Russian Air Force should destroy as much heavy equipment ISIS has in the area, tanks, apcs, utility vehicles, curtailing their mobility and rendering their effort to an infantry effort.

      • Fresh

        I’m hoping the ceasefire was just a ploy to get the West to show their hand. After they bombed Syrian troops during the last ceasefire and restocked, if the Russians are still falling for our slight of hand at this point, they deserve to lose.

    • sólyomszem

      lokk: commanders did not report the all necessary information to the higher command in Damascus on time

      this may be right and may be false. do you know the law af falling shit?

      it can be also right, that they sent information but in damsacus ignored them.

      there were also rusians. what did they?

      in SF reguklarly are articles, how big wonder is the russian intel. also putin told to amerivans: we know, how many are you, we know exatly where you are. either in that time lied or they lie now.

      on the other hand, IF the syrian army has only cowards and is master only in retreating, then is not worth to help them ind fight for the,
      i wrote several times: under assad live 10 million people. and he is not able to recruit 200 000 rookies. 10 divisuins changed were be enough to win in 3 months.

      the million dollar question: why happen such shamy things to kurds???

      • John Whitehot

        seems there is some news incoming about Russian airforce slaughtering a large number of ragheads and tanks in the area last night

  • Jesus

    How come aerial and ground reconnaissance did not detect such large concentration of enemy forces in the proximity of Palmyra? They did not just materialize overnight.

    • Jens Holm

      Everything can be hidden in a desert like that. Russians might burie Kutzetsof there.

      • Marek Pejović

        if it stops emitting black smoke, that is…

        • Jens Holm

          Kirkuk had a habour once. ISIS could kidnap it at Tigris, just before it turned right,

      • Jesus

        How do you hide thousands of troops with their transports and related equipment in the desert? This is not Afrika Korps and technology of the 40’s.

        • Jens Holm

          Im no expert. Im sure there are modern litteratur – military manuals about it. ISIS and other makes large tunnels with real rooms and aircondion. The uprisers all have digged down all kind of vehicles including tanks. Saddam couldnt get new parts to his airforce, but hoped for it, and therefore digged many airplanes down in secret. It was expected he had much more flying, and they couldnt spot them, because they were burried.

          Of course You can hide armies. Its true all kind of tecnology can spot much more. Cameras, moving sencors, metal detectors and even the new measuring hights, which can spot down to differences at 2 cm.

          But the defence against that devellopes too.

          You can take stealht. Its not only radarreflections. They spread the heat from the engies and make it more difficult to spot. I think they do it with abrams or Seahawks as well.

          You gave me an idea. We sometimes get some nasty winterdays. I might use one of those and try to find some more about it.

          Actuelly I know a lot about many things they all did at WW2. At that time it was military secrets, but afterswards I have followed it.

          About Palmyra now,I would say that night vision cameras are of no use, if the temperatur is 37 or more. It happens. You also can get sandstorms and even rain and transport Your gear periods in those ones.

          Germans attacked Ardennes in the Battle of the Bulge, because it was rainy and snowy. Westerns couldnt go up see them and attack them.

          • Jesus

            All I am saying is that you can employ drones and reconnoiter the area within a 50 KM radius, also used infra red technology to spot vehicle concentrations in uncluttered area. If something looks questionable you send mechanized patrols to reconnoiter for first hand information.

          • Jens Holm

            Thats the best way, but many weapons are not 100, bacause You can avoid them or makes are dont.

            USA bombs are much smarter than the russian ones, but they still make mistakes – and sometimes terrible ones.

            In some artikels, I have just been reading, its said that Palmyra wasnt prepared for attack and most soldiers more were/are militias.

            Seems they didnt do, what they could have done and pay for it hard. Very strange. Palmuýra has been under fire so many times…

        • goingbrokes

          Sandstorm.

          • Jesus

            Are you saying the jihadis deployed during the sand storm? Or were they in position and the sand storm concealed their proximity?

          • goingbrokes

            Sandstorm covered the massive deployment. A standard West Point technique to use weather to your advantage. And why not, just pity they are teaching these things to the most despicable people on the planet. Once they were deployed, and the captagon was distributed, the withdrawal of the Syrians is a foregone conclusion. The Syrians, quite rightly, do not see any advantage in mounting suicidal defensive actions. They have shown themselves to be completely capable of retaking territory. Palmyra may be destroyed, more’s the pity. But that is on the West who choose to keep supporting salafi jihadism because they do a job for the 0.1%.

          • Jesus

            4000 men does not constitute a massive deployment in my mind, it is a brigade not even properly equipped for conventional warefare. Yes, you use the weather to your advantage whenever possible, however, proper reconnaissance should have identified the problem. I do not understand why such a salient and surrounding areas was not manned by additional troops, to anticipate a surprise attack, I do not know all the details involved in the matter, if Palmyra garrison was constituted by about 1000 troops, there should have been artilery and MLRS support to west of Palmyra to zero in on the attacking waves. Also a tank battalion kept in reserve for outflanking movements would have been a good idea. NDF is a militia force without access to a lot of heavy weapons and armour.

    • kraaiiii

      As Syrian troops sat behind their
      fortifications amidst the layers of mist, all they could do was listen
      to suspicious sounds. The SAAF was essentially grounded during this
      natural phenomenon. It was reported also that ISIS did not disclose its
      location or plans by using cellphones. Therefore, it could be said
      that the operation was planned months before its implementation awaiting
      the green light from terrorism’s greatest advocate, the rodent in the
      White House.
      Read more at
      http://syrianperspective.com/2016/12/50000-citizens-leave-east-aleppo-during-last-48-hours-syrian-army-advances-to-last-pockets-of-rodents-syrian-army-defeats-isis-at-palmyra-delivering-lethal-blow.html#P370849pUsf6Qbme.99

  • It would be wise for the Syrians to redeploy their elite units backed by Russian choppers there anyway, and launch a counteroffensive. This will at least contribute to ISIS’s current state of collapse on all fronts, and at best result in a link up with Deir Ezzor.

    • Jens Holm

      Linking up there would need a great amount of troops very hard to supply, defend & concentrate.

      You just cut that long road line and take them in all the small defence points left and right for it.

      • I agree. The fascinating thing is the difference between Deir Ezzor and Palmyra.

        Palmyra was abandoned, no attempt was made to hold it. But both battles conducted in Palmyra in 2016 were minor in terms of numbers, and losses. One can assume it will just be retaken in a similar engagement to the original one in March 2016.

  • Trustin Judeau

    It seems that the situation have improved.SAA have recaptured Jabal Al Tar and Jabal Hayyal.BTW this ISIS operation reminds me of the Ardennes offensive in WW2.

  • FreeWillSyrian

    the Syrian government isn’t considering ISIS as priority till the moment regardless all the propaganda , all efforts are concentrated on other rebel groups in western Syria .

  • Marek Pejović

    Excellent analysis, but i disagree on one thing: deployment was NOT unexpected. come on, ISIS convoy leaving for Syria was on the news like weeks before, even Obama mentioned it! you could train civilians into soldiers in that time! Russians knew ISIS was bolstering troops in Syria! the first question is why not just intercept them in middle of desert?

    now the real question is: will the SAA learn from this mistake? like, digging a double trench around grain silo, fortifying it, and you know, fortify the city?
    second question is: will the head of commander of Palmyra roll for this?

    looking at this, Deir Ezzor might not be so much an anomaly as much as Gen. Zehredinne being actually a smart, capable officer. seems SAA is in sore need of those.

    as for sending reinforcments, if, in this situation the high command is still “considering”, they should be shot on sight! you needed to send them the moment ISIS attacked and you knew they got you with pants down, doesn’t matter from where – just grab them from East Ghouta, no operations there at the moment anyway! give them areal cover while approaching to Palmyra and make sure there are also tanks included, not only infantry.

    also, if the high command was overwhelmed by this, it’s time to split the high command in south, north, and central high command, which will provide the needed focus on their territories. i mean, ISIS does it and it works. should be time that SAA too takes this approach, at least temporary.

    • Brad Isherwood

      SAA lost many tanks and other mechanized captured by leaving squads to patrol an area.
      Takfiri studied their daily habits, ….caught them in the vulnerable moment,..and Tada!
      You got Tanks!

      Syrian Military Intelligence was wanting for the first few years in the conflict.
      Takfiri getting Sat Intel from Empires minions in the field titled the Game in the Rebels
      Favor.
      Russia really did turn this all around.
      Iran’s assistance was not dramatically changing the conflict in Syria’s favor.
      Hezbollah and IRGC were/are quality fighters.
      In the South near Golan….the Syrian countryside Militias wanted to negotiate their defence
      Of the Area with Damascus and Hezbollah.
      Russia with its reconciliation program and over 1000 villages signed on has helped ease
      Thru this politics of the Syrian patchwork countryside.

    • PZIVJ1943

      Hard to hit moving pick-up trucks in the desert, but at least we know where they are! Desert hawk and tiger force might be in Palmyra by now. Airstrikes will increase. The ISUS grand assault will fail (But they put so much into this). So many jihadist failed hopes & dreams.

      • Daniel Apaza

        They will be encircled in a cauldron

      • Joseph Scott

        Sounds like a perfectly reasonable target for certain Russian helicopter gunships. Operating a MANPAD or aiming an unstabilised, jury-rigged autocannon mount on the back of a speeding, swerving technical isn’t too easy either.

        • PZIVJ1943

          They seem to move like cockroach. In squad groups and hard to spot at night! ISUS has grouped up around T4. They will be hit hard by air and helos in open area.

  • paul

    I placed my first comment here last night. In fact it was the first
    comment. On checking this morning the early reports appear to show
    that the tide is turning. It is too soon to be certain but the
    indications confirm SouthFront’s analysis and again give credence to
    their cool headed commentary.

  • Xanatos

    This offensive is not all coming from Iraq, and it is not all coming from Raqqa. The militants in Idlib province have abandoned their futile attempts at breaking the siege of Aleppo and many fighters have joined ISIS to attack Palmyra. Their fighters routinely slip thru the government road from hamma to aleppo at night.

    Nusra and ISIS fighters are interchangeable. Their soldiers and units have a great deal of autonomy, taking their heavy weapons with them when they switch over between organizations. Many of these fighters have regularly fought for both organizations several times at different battles during the war. It is as easy as reporting to a new command center.

  • kraaiiii
    • sólyomszem

      I wonder, how did not miss the syrian checkpoints?

  • FuriousFireVogel

    Is it possible that the Russians are playing the field here. Some guys are right here saying that this invasion was an anticipated one. True. Methinks The Russians want a political settlement in Aleppo, to help the Jihadi backers save face, and get on with the ISIS decimation program. But, the Iranians want some action in their constituency, like Khan Touman etc, which is distracting from the real danger. But with the ISIS flooding back to Syria, it;s time for the ass-kicking to begin, which they ignore. So the Russians see but don’t act, till the heat is really on. Now, everyone is alert. Time to move on.

  • hvaiallverden

    Stupid moves. from the ISIS parts, and when an influx of armed men comes over night you fall back, simply because you would otherwise be run over thats not fun at all.
    Thats not defeat, the Russians are experts on that, use of tacts.

    I think this reeks of panic, and nothing more, and that they where able to punch thru dont mean that much, it was to small to keep it, anyway, so this was an strategic blunder and exposing them self in the same time, makes hunting them easier, aka just follow the tracks.

    You see, the advantage of highly mobile entetis, but its no use if its not backed with an larger strategy, then this is just an waist of people and arms, stupid move.

    I think the war is basically over, Aleppo is going down, as we speak maybe some blocks left but its gone, when that is behind the SAF and Russia, can focus of sweeping the land for the rest of the rats, and kick the Flippflopping Turks back to their land.
    I hope the latest events regarding the Kurds, with seems to be able to use their brains, because Syria is for Syrians, and no group can claim hegemony, since that is not true, the people in Syria is much older then most, been there since the dawn of men, and to then claim exclusivity is an false historical consensus, like Israel is, been able to live despite its not backed by anything other than historical forgery’s and an one sidedness that is shameful, and on top of it, harms the very same people, the Kurds in general.
    In an secular state, this should be an issue at all, if you are an Kurd or not, prosperity should go to you all, no exceptions, like in Turkien where the Kurdish language is forbidden.

    peace

  • Bjarne Örn Hansen

    An enormous mistake by ISIS, and an opportunity for Russia.

    That ISIS troops, were on their way from Mosul … was known, and expected. There is no “moment of surprise”, by ISIS here. The only possible “surprise” momentum here, is IFF Russia and Damascus shift their operations from Aleppo to Palmyra, and another ISIS group pops up at the back of Syrians soldiers near Aleppo, armed with MANPAD’s and new weapons.

    Either way, there is no value in Palmyra … and Damascus would probably be better off herding ISIS into Palmyra, than spending resources fending them off.

  • Antikapitalista

    I always thought that it was a mistake to take Palmyra—it was probably done for reasons closer to propaganda rather than strategic military advantage.

  • C Hetman

    My analysis is the following: this is a prelude to a massive IS offensive with the goal of taking Deir Ezzor.
    1) Mosul is surrounded, SDF/YPG, US special forces are very close to Raqqa. IS needs a new capital. Deir Ezzor is conveniently located right in the center of IS-held territory.
    2) SAA’s Deir Ezzor enclave could be relieved from the direction of Palmyra. The further west IS manages to push back the SAA, the bigger are the chances to capture Deir Ezzor.
    3) IS can try to overwhelm the Deir Ezzor airport, effectively cutting the SAA from supplies and reinforcements. Then it will matter that, with Palmyra in IS hands, the SAA may not reach Deir Ezzor within weeks, but only in months.

    • PZIVJ1943

      Great analysis. Was surprised to see such a large ISUS force show up to take Palmyra. The #1 SY/RU priority should be to hit ISUS with all airpower between Tiyas airbase and Deir Ezzor. This should wear them down and stop their plans. The Deir Ezzor force is tough, but they must hold the airfield.

  • Michael Drysdale

    this is all bull shit, the real reasons will be disclosed shortly

    • Daniel Apaza

      All resources went to capture Aleppo

  • Tchoutoye

    The strip held by the Syrian Army on both sides of road 32 was too narrow, allowing it to be effectively attacked from the east, north and the south in a classic pincer movement. The Syrian Army should have occupied more territory as a buffer zone, including the strategically important roads 90 and 45 (Hama – Al-Salamiya – Palmyra Highway). I don’t understand why the Syrian Army failed to anticipate this manoeuvre because this is very basic military stategy going back thousands of years.

    • Daniel Apaza

      They deployed their best to capture Aleppo