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International Military Rewiev – Syria-Iraq Battlespace, Nov.05.2015

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It took almost two weeks for the Syrian forces to liberate the Khanasser-Ithriya highway. Nonetheless, they were finally able to secure the remaining territory along the strategic supply route that had been captured by ISIS.

On Wednesday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF) and the Palestinian pro-government militia “Liwaa Al-Quds” broke-through ISIS’ remaining frontlines to the north of Ithriya and conducted a massive retreat of the militants to the town of Tabaqa in the Al-Raqqa province. Separately, the terrorists retreating along the Salamiyah-Raqqa highway came under attack from the Russian Air Force’s SU-24 fighter jets.

The liberation of the Khanasser-Ithriya highway was of the utmost importance for the Syrian Arab Army’s Central Command these last few days, as the roadway is the only supply route to continue the SAA advance in the Aleppo province. It isn’t clear when the supplies will be restored because militants set many explosive devices at the highway. According to the SAA, mine clearance specialists have already started to demine them.

The SAA supported by the NDF and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) continued their advance in the Latakia province. They began the assault at the southern perimeter of the village of Mafraq Beit Abu Reesha, where they struck the combined forces of Al-Nusra and the FSA. Following a series of intense firefights the SAA took control of the village. Then the pro-government forces seized the village of Khirbat Jubb Al-Za’rour. The SAA’s success was due in large part to the Russian Air Force’s MI-24 Hind Helicopter Gunships that were pounding the militants before the Syrian infantry units reached their positions.

Separately, the SAA and NDF imposed full control over the Gas Station and the Northern Highlands inside the town of Harasta after the Jaysh Al-Islam militants withdrew from this area in the Damascus countryside. According to the field reports, the SAA advance along the Homs-Damascus highway.

The US military will continue airdropping munitions to militant groups in Syria because it is encouraged by how the fighters used the equipment during a recent offensive to capture new ground, US Army Colonel Steve Warren told reporters on Wednesday. The successful offensive in the city of Al-Hal was a “validator” of the US plan to airdrop munitions to the Syrian militants.

Warren explained that the new militant alliance operating under the name “The Syrian Arab Coalition” took control over 200 plus kilometers during a conventional offensive in northern Syria that was launched within the past two weeks.

The Iraqi Security Forces are continuing a large-scale military operation against ISIS in the Anbar province. The Iraqi forces attempted to encircle and retake Ramadi, but ISIS resistance prevented them from cutting supply lines across the Euphrates River. Iraqi forces need to take the Palestine Bridge on the Euphrates to constrict ISIS’ ability to resupply and communicate. Taking Ramadi will be difficult because ISIS has had months to prepare complex urban defenses that will make for a dangerous fight.

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