International Military Review – Syria-Iraq Battlespace, Nov.04.2015

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The Syrian Arab Arby (SAA) launched a wide-scale offensive inside the strategic city of Daraya, targeting the militants of Ajnad Al-Sham at the Daraya Association Quarter The goal is to recapture the territory lost to the latter during their summer offensive in rural Damascus. The Syrian forces are backed by the National Defense Forces (NDF) and a few operatives from Hezbollah. This offensive will also include the Russian Air Force, who has just recently begun their aerial campaign in rural Damascus two weeks ago.

The city of Daraya has been hot-zone for years, as the sporadic firefights and failed ceasefires have plagued any chance of peace to reign over this area on the outskirts the country’s capital. If the Syrian Armed Forces capture the city of Daraya, they will have built a buffer-zone for their airbase and eliminated the threat posed by Ajnad Al-Sham’s mortar shells and rockets that are fired into Damascus.

It has been over a week since ISIS has blockaded the strategic Khanasser-Ithriya highway. In turn, the SAA and its allies have steadily worked their way along this highway to restore all the sites they lost to the terrorist group. The Syrian forces continued their counter-offensive in the southern countryside of the recently captured “Ahad Mountains”, striking the terrorist group’s defenses at Hill Number 11 along the Khanasser-Ithriya highway.

Following intense firefights, the SAA and the National Defence Forces (NDF) imposed full control over Hill Number 11 and the oil fields and pumping station near the town of ‘Qurbat. Militants withdrew to the southern countryside of east Hama.

With the recent capture of the Ahad Mountains and the oil fields near the town of ‘Qurbat, the Syrian Armed Forces and their allies should be able to reopen the Khanasser-Ithriya Highway by the end of the week, pending no further setbacks. Nonetheless, this forecast is a far away for the government’s expectations. The Syrian officials argued that the highway had to be free from the militants on Tuesday.

Thousands of soldiers from the Syrian army, Hezbollah and popular forces, backed up by Russian air force, launched the final phase of a landmark operation towards a strategic airbase Southeast of Aleppo that has been under siege for two years now. The pro-government forces marched on ISIS positions in the region and advanced to the rural district of Sheikh Ahmad after taking full control of the railway crossing. Early reports argue that the SAA are now deployed in 2 kilomteres away from the airbase. The pro-government forces are preparing to mop up the rest of Sheikh Ahmad to prepare for a massive offensive on ISIS positions along the Aleppo-Raqqa Highway.

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