International Military Review – Syria & Iraq, June 21, 2016

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The ISIS terrorist group has successfully counter-attacked in the province of Raqqa, re-taking from the Assad forces the Thawrah oil field, the Sfaiyeh oil field, the Sfaiyeh crossroads and Bir Anbaj. The main government forces withdrew in the direction of Ithriya while clashes were observed in Madarkhah and Khirbat Zaydan. Before this setback, the pro-government forces had been deployed in about 13 km from the strategic Tabaqa military airport.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (the Kurdish YPG and some Arab units) have launched a military operation to the west from Manbij. SDF units, supported by the US-led coalition air power have seized the villages Sayadah and Zunqul and launched an advance in the outskirts of the junction of Arab Hassan Kabir. In the area close and in Manbij, Kurdish forces have not been able to achieve any significant gains yet.

ISIS militants have conducted a counter-attack, seizing Khirbat ar-Rus, Gharrah Saghirah and nearby villages. Pro-Kurdish sources report that the SDF was able to repel the terrorist group’s further advances.

The Iraqi Army, Counter-Terrorism Forces, Federal Police and the Popular Mobilization Units have made significant gains in the strategic city of Fallujah in the province of Al Anbar. The pro-government forces liberated from ISIS the neighborhoods of al-Mohandasin, al-Zobat and Al Askari and Fallujah Hospital. A military operation is ongoing in al-Jolan. Thus, the government is in control of approximately 80% of the city.

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have secured a highway that links Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi and Haditha. The ISF is reportedly pursuing the goal to secure Anah, Rawa and Qaem, setting a foothold for operations at the Syrian border.

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  • Robert Guttierez

    I find it odd that we constantly read about Russian bombing of residential areas but not much about bombing front lines. ISIS should have no tanks, artillery pieces, or heavy weapons trucks operating. Every single one should be destroyed as soon as it makes it close to front lines by Syrian or Russian bombers. It drives me crazy to see tanks shelling the SAA with no retribution from the sky. What is the point of having air support if it’s not there.

    • Sergio González

      You are right, most news here cover the Russian warplanes bombing strategic HQ’s and ammo depots (which contributes a lot) but I don’t ever see a single bit of close air support against an advancing ISIS force (except for maybe a couple of Mi-24 videos out there).
      I don’t think that Syrian Forces are getting the kind of aerial support that it truly needs.

      • Robert Guttierez

        Makes me wonder if Russia wants the progress to stall so that they can have an excuse to send more troops. The way the war is being handled feels more political than military.

        • zencowboy61

          Iran/hezbollah and russia have enough troops and firepower to take over syria in 2 weeks from ISIS and seal it off if it wants too..one has to wonder.

          • VGA

            Cool story, bro. There are thousands of lunatic beheaders who disagree strongly with your assessment.

        • PJ London

          To win the war, they have to take out the US,UK,French and all the other ‘advisers’. Up until now (this week) they have avoided direct action against NATO.
          The Russians and Syrians have tried to ‘give peace a chance’.
          They have realised that giving anyone ‘a chance’ is used to re-equip, train, and re-arm’.
          With the attack on the American led camp on the Jordan border, US has been given notice that enough is enough.
          Iran would want to take ISIS out of Iraq before moving in strength on Syria. Otherwise, their supply lines are open to attack.
          Of course it is politics. Do you expect Russia to bomb Turkey and stop the cross-border support and activity. At some time either they will bomb or will show that the ‘political’ cost to Turkey and EU is too expensive. Destroy the tourist trade for Turkey and another million or so refugees for the EU should do it.

          • Robert Guttierez

            They don’t have to bomb Turkey but they can bomb the terrorists the minute they cross into Syria. The reason I say it feels like politics is determining the course instead of military, is because there was plenty of assets in Raqqa but they were pushed back with ease and no air cover. If Raqqa was a real goal, why not support it properly. It feels like they lost the battle on purpose sacrificing lives along the way.

          • PJ London

            They are hitting them pretty much at will as they enter, but the distances are so small. We are talking 10-20 kms.
            Are you referring to the SAA or the SDA in Raqqa? I understand both are pushing in, but the SDA is going more slowly whilst the SAA made a fast run to pre-empt the US-SDA.
            My belief is that the US slow push from the NW is to provide a route and allow ISIS to withdraw to the border.
            ISIS problem is that the Deir ez Zur troops need to withdraw or they will be isolated. This will hand Eastern Syria back to SAA.
            US wants to control East and hand to its’ own moderate throat cutters.

    • PJ London

      That is because you are reading the western media.
      The ‘front lines’ are civilian houses and villages. There is no heavy stuff, ISIS uses ‘technicals’ cross country to reach a village, take on the defenders and clear the village. Claim a huge victory and when you look up the area, you find it is a cluster of mud houses. (eg try and find Bir Anbaj).
      The last reports of ISIS tanks being used was nearly 2 years ago, The current tanks (if any) are used in defensive positions (Aleppo and Raqqa) hidden among the houses.

      • Robert Guttierez

        Look up the Syria battle map. It has plenty of reports and pictures of ISIS using tanks. It shows them using 3 T-72’s in their last assault to push the SAA out of Raqqa. How are these not destroyed when they are out in the open pushing the SAA back?

        • PJ London

          The latest information I can find (except Wiki) is
          T-54/55 MBT – 10 to 20; stock from either of the Syrian or Iraqi military. Likely from the Syrian civil war including all combatants.
          T-72 MBT – 3 to 5; stock from either of the Syrian or Iraqi military. Likely from the Syrian civil war including all combatants.
          T-62 MBT – 20 to 30; stock from either of the Syrian or Iraqi military. A large stock of these were captured from the Iraqi military however the Syrian Civil War would have also fostered an environment to acquire these.
          I do not know where wiki gets its information,
          Push SAA out of Raqqa? They are still approaching, Have not heard that they are in Raqqa, maybe the pictures are from 2013.

          • Robert Guttierez

            When I mention Raqqa I’m referring to the governorate, not the city itself. It’s a current map. Right now it shows ISIS trucks out in the open field sitting there taking shots at the SAA. All while being unmolested by air cover. That should not be happening.

            And unfortunately they are no longer advancing, they are back to Ithriyah cross road. They are completely out of the Raqqa governorate and now pushed back into Homs.

          • Gabriel Hollows

            According to various analysts, Raqqa is outside of the Russian bomber’s flight range. One must remember the air base is on Latakia, the literal opposite corner of the country.

          • Robert Guttierez

            The distance from Raqqa to Latakia is 293 Km. The range on the SU-24 is 3000 Km. The range on the SU-34 is 4000 Km. According to the World Atlas, Syria is only 396 Km wide so I don’t see how any corner of Syria is even remotely out of bombing range.

          • PJ London

            Sorry, I do not think that Raqqa is the priority at the moment. Closing off Aleppo and clearing back to the border is my guess.
            I think that the push on the city was to either force the US to push for Raqqa or to scare them into closing it off.
            I would guess that Deir ez Zur is a higher priority as you would not want a major force at you back if they were to take the Raqqa city. It would trap ISIS and make them desperate. SAA could not rely on US support and Iran has not put any significant troops at SAA disposal.
            The biggest problem I have is sorting the facts (if any) from the propaganda released by both sides.

          • Robert Guttierez

            The SAA started their push AFTER the US coalition stopped theirs. The US was already pushing towards Manbij. It doesn’t look like they were trying to force the US to do anything. It looked to me like they wanted the Tabqah air base to use it as a forward air base to strike Raqqa. They spent weeks sending their most modern equipment and best fighters to that front line. If it was just a bluff, it was a costly mistake because they lost equipment and plenty of soldiers, including 3 dead Russians today alone. If allepo was a priority why weaken it by sending these assets from Allepo to Raqqa? In allepo they have lost land, more equipment and soldiers. They run the risk of having Allepo cut off and isolated all that for just a bluff? I find that hard to believe.

            I do agree that Raqqa should be left alone for now and they should have concentrated that manpower to liberate Deir ez Zur and to clear out Allepo. Problem is, they can’t attack the terrorists on the Turkey side because they are US backed and Russia doesn’t want to upset them so That border will not be closed down for a long time.

            If it was up to me I would do everything to secure the whole border. Eliminate equipment and terrorist from flooding the country.

    • Murf

      Russia never came there to fight ISIS.
      Fighting ISIS is a publicity stunt and a complete after thought.

  • Gabriel Hollows

    The SAA had it’s best troops and gear participate in the Raqqa offensive. How the hell did they manage to get driven back?

    • knifemare69

      The US and the Brits have special forces directing ISIS troops near Raqqa, and have probably been sending as many supplies as they can to support the cannibal Jihadis.

      Until Russia, Syria and Iran field enough overwhelming force to take out all the NATO forces backing up ISIS, the situation on the ground will not change…

      • enemies R among us

        The US and the Brits have special forces directing ISIS troops near Raqqa,

        100% B.S.

        • knifemare69

          So says the butthurt government troll with ZERO evidence. Tell your bosses at Langley that anyone with half a brain can see through their strategy to colonize Syria with ISIS cannibal Jihadis. Try again, government troll flunkies…

          http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/26/u-s-troops-18-miles-from-isis-capital.html

          • VGA

            Are you crazy, dude? An american would be raped and beheaded if ISIS could spot one.

          • enemies R among us

            You stupid ignorant fuck, read the article. they’re embedded with YPG forces on the other side of the Euphrates helping SDF target Daesh positions.

            Again what a stupid, ignorant fuck you are.

          • knifemare69

            Do you even know where the Euphrates is, government troll penis-eater? Can you even find YOUR OWN STATE on a map of the US?

            STFU and collect your troll welfare check like a good little leech…

      • Pave Way IV

        You almost got it, knifemare69.

        The U.S., especially the Department of State and the CIA, have been helping ISIS any time ISIS has a chance to kill Syrian troops. That isn’t done with SF guys, it’s done with U.S. satellite and drone imagery and U.S. signals intelligence. This is handed to ISIS either directly or through some third party, and happens quickly enough that ISIS commanders can create battle plans based on it. ISIS has no intelligence network and has no idea where to attack the SAA. They don’t need SF guys advising them – headchoppers can figure out what to do if they know where Syrian troops are and know what they’re saying to each other. The U.S. gives them that information constantly.

        This intel rat-line would start at the State Department and CIA on the U.S. side, but Saudi, Jordanian, Qatari, Turkish and Israeli intelligence services all play some part of the secret intel rat-line to ISIS. I suspect the latter are more involved in the delivery part than the collection part. Whether they have people imbedded in ISIS or just transmit the intelligence electronically is irrelevant – ISIS gets it and knows exactly where to send car bombs and place TOW missile launchers.

        The U.S. military would never aid ISIS directly and can’t be ‘ordered’ to. They know the State Department and CIA are aiding ISIS for SAA battles, but they can’t do anything about it. Since the intelligence only helps ISIS when they’re fighting Syrian forces specifically, the U.S. military does not complain. The CIA and State Department do not share this kind of intelligence when ISIS is battling any U.S.-backed forces.

    • Robert Guttierez

      It took weeks for the Russian led SAA to get as far as it did, and it was all lost overnight. I don’t get it, especially considering the concentration of manpower and advanced equipment.

  • enemies R among us

    The ISIS terrorist group has successfully counter-attacked in the province of Raqqa, re-taking from the Assad forces the Thawrah oil field, the Sfaiyeh oil field, the Sfaiyeh crossroads and Bir Anbaj. The main government forces withdrew in the direction of Ithriya while clashes were observed in Madarkhah and Khirbat Zaydan.

    Not good. Russian Aerospace Forces need to get in there and pound the shit out if daesh.