Russia & Syria Prepare Major Operation in Aleppo

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Russia & Syria Prepare Major Operation in Aleppo

On June 9, the Syrian Arab Army and the National Defense Forces launched fresh attacks in South Aleppo and in the Mallah area, located North to the strategic Castello road that is the latest militant’s supply line. According to some reports, these attacks is the first stage of a full-scale offensive in the area of the Aleppo city. For example, SouthFront’s partners from AlMasdarNews reported on June 8 that the long-avaited offensive in Aleppo will be started in from the liberation of the militant-controlled ‘Anadan Plains:

Led by the prominent field commander Colonel Suheil Al-Hassan and his Tiger Forces, the Syrian Armed Forces have mobilized in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo, where they hope to capture this well-defended jihadist stronghold.

Furthermore, the Tiger Forces will not be conducting this latest offensive alone; they will be joined by the National Defense Forces (NDF), Liwaa Al-Quds (Palestinian paramilitary), Al-Ba’ath Battalions, and Arab National Guard.

SouthFront can’t agree with the reports that the Syrian government is able to launch a full-scale offensive in the city of Aleppo in coming days.

There is no secret for Western experts and opposition armed groups that the Syrian government will need to launch the offensive in the Aleppo city if Bashar al-Assad wants to remain in power. The control of Aleppo has a strategic logistical, diplomatic and PR importance. In other words, the side that controls the city will be able to turn the tide of the international talks on the Syrian crisis. This is why Al Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham have recently launched a series of military operations in the city and its nearby areas, pushing Kurdish units from the Sheikh Maqsoud district and gaining the  ground in the area of the Kan Touman town.

In turn, the Syrian government forces, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, have been paritipating a competition with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dubbed “Who will seize Raqqa?”.  Some experts believe that the Syrian advance on Raqqa is drived by political and PR reasons instead of the military necessity. The Assad government is seeking to gain the revenue from the fact that the US-led Syrian Democratic Forces haven’t even started a significant move in the direction of Raqqa. They are clashing for the ISIS-controlled city of Manbij:

Russia & Syria Prepare Major Operation in Aleppo

Click to see the full-size map

There are serious doubts that the Syrian Arab Army, even supported by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbolalh and other militias, is able to perform 2 large-scale offensive operations, simultaneously. They just don’t have enough competent soldiers and specialists. Thus, the loyalist troops will continue to advance on Raqqa while they are able to do this, successfully. It’s a common logic of war.

The SAA’s advance in the Raqqa province:

Russia & Syria Prepare Major Operation in Aleppo

Click to see the full-size map

Now, the government’s goal in Aleppo is to stabelize the front line and counter Al Nusra and Ahram al-Sham attempts to exercise offensive operations and shell the populated areas. The Russian Aerospace Forces, deployed in Syria, and the Syrian Arab Air Force are capable to provide an air cover for the both, Raqqa offensive and counter-operations in Aleppo.

If the goal is the full-scale storm of the city, the pro-government forces will need to deploy more reinforcements in the area and intensify air raids in the city. Unfrortunately, it will lead a significant collateral damage to the city’s infrastructure and the local Suni population, the main militant forces are located in the Suni-populated areas. Are the Russian military ready for such decision? We will see the answer, soon.

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  • chris chuba

    Aleppo should be the main effort.

    They don’t have to rush to Raqqa, just make it to Tabaqa Military Airport. If they do that while the Kurds take Manbij then ISIS will be cut off from Turkey and their flow of arms, oil trade, and foreign fighters will be severely hampered. They can just hunker down until the Aleppo campaign is done and let ISIS whither. I hope they can do that with a smaller force.

    • A significant part of the border with Turkey will be open despite the efforts in the Raqqa province.

      • chris chuba

        Absolutely but the ISIS territory south of Manbij would be cut off pretty well. The Kurds control the area north and east of the Euphrates. If the SAA took Tabaqa Military Airport that would cut ISIS in half with a small isolated portion in the north/west and their main holdings running south/east. There is a road that runs from Manbij to Raqqa which would be severed. Their main holdings would be isolated from Turkey.

        Their small contingent in the north/west doesn’t have much to trade. If the Kurds can advance from Manbij towards Al Bab the noose will get even tighter. Nothing is 100% secure but it would make life very difficult for them. They should just do that while they concentrate on taking Aleppo and worry about Raqqa later. Easy for me to say :-) but that kind of looks like their plan anyway.

        • There is no progress in the international talks because there is no progress in Aleppo. While al Nusra & Ahrar al-Sham & their allies control a significant part of the city, they are able to claim that they are “moderate opposition”. If Aleppo falls to the government, there would be a chance to push the progress on the international level. To consolodate positions of different sides with own agenda is the only way to finish the war. This is why the strategic decision to advance on Raqqa was very questionable. Now, when a sginificant part of the work is done, it’s seen clearly that the decision lead to further complication of the situation.

          • chris chuba

            I agree with everything that you said.

            I am hoping that the ‘race to Raqqa’ is just a small, opportunistic attempt to take some low hanging fruit with strategic value and nothing else. Take Tabaqa Military Airport and consolidate that until Aleppo is captured. If they take Tabaqa the only open channel that ISIS will have left is lake Assad, I doubt if they have a lot of boats, they certainly won’t be able to smuggle oil that way. The only forces the SAA is using for the drive are the Desert Falcons and a few other small units.

            It looks like most of their big units, the Tigers, Hezbollah, and others are in Aleppo. If they are stretched for resources, I hope they take them from the hopelessly optimistic Palmyra to Deir Ezzor drive.

            They probably do have to stick a small needle into ISIS just to keep them busy but their main focus has to be on Al Nusra / Army of Islam at Aleppo.

    • Boris Kazlov

      You are assuming that this war is against ISIS, the real enemy is behind it, it is USrahell,
      They want to carve out a piece of Syria, that is why SAA must enter Raqqa first. In Aleppo, the RUAF should really get to work now, terrorists received too amany reinforcements..

  • I cant believe that Assad would publically announce and reveal his next moves (Aleppo or Raqqa)

    I believe he will go up to Tabaqa area but he will not cross Euphrates river, so that he can defend his newly conquest areas rather easily. Then his army will turn left in order to clear areas west of Tabaqa towards Aleppo.

  • David Gil

    Think: Even a small bomb, 50 km away from a hospital, makes the enemy cry “total devastation” till exhaustion…

    So, bombs every day will make bombastic headlines in the media everyday…

    So, do actual total devastation in one day… the enemy will cry “total devastation” for one day… anyway….

    The truth is… one day of total devastation has far less PR impact than weeks of small attacks.

  • Hisham Saber

    There has been a rather pessimistic attitude towards the SAA, Hezbollah and IRGC’s efforts in Syria(northern Syria) reported on Southfront lately. Give these brave heroes credit where it is due. They are up against the largest international criminal conspiracy ever hatchet since the early-mid 20th century. Syria is one big gigantic Stalingrad. The fight will be for every hill, every street against heavily armed amphetamine crazed fanatical hordes whom are getting full military guidance and support from major powers in the region and beyond. The Pentagon is no doubt giving ISIS and Al-Nusra and co. satellite footage in real time.
    Since all hope is lost now for the Anglo-Zionist, Wahhabi sponsored terrorists to take over all of Syria, they are hoping to settle with a divided Syria with the compliant Kurds taking over in the North(that goes for Iraq too btw) so that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Jordan, Turkey; and they are hoping an Arab hating Kurds(see Israeli-American full support for them), so that the pipeline dream from Saudi-Qatar all the way to Europe(benefiting Israel and Jordan as well through branch pipelines) becomes a reality.
    That’s why Raqqa(and Mosul) offensive is being interfered with by the U.S and why it’s important for Syria to liberate it and thus consolidate the northeast. Aleppo will eventually be surrounded and the noose tightened on the various militants as well.
    I’m sure that the IRGC, SAA and Russian military experts know what they are doing. But there will be no massive encirclements and pincer movements of 500k man fronts.

    • chris chuba

      I actually think that the U.S. is split. The military types who are integrated with the Kurds are actually being rather helpful. By pressing attacks westerly towards Manbij they are pinning down ISIS and helping to isolate them from Turkey. However, you have the CIA backed FSA junior partners of Nusra/Army of Islam and that is 100% bad.

      If ISIS was not being kept busy then they might opportunistically spring up and attack the SAA at random points, capture a power plant, gas fields like they did earlier, etc, and that would force the SAA to respond and derail their Aleppo operations like it did before.

      For the first time in weeks, I actually like the looks of what is developing. A serious threat to ISIS’s logistics rather than a glory seeking operation against Raqqa and what looks like a big operation in Aleppo to finally relieve the suffering of the people there. We shall see.

    • Grieved

      I agree with everything you say. And time will tell which of the two schools of thought is the correct one. Trying to besiege Aleppo too soon seems like a huge waste of manpower and unnecessary death, both civilian and military. Raqqa is pipeline – the fundamental motivation of our times.

      I note the meeting between the defense ministers of Russia, Syria and Iran – not top diplomats, not heads of state, but those who command the full resources of war. I trust the military command in this situation, perhaps the greatest collaboration of skill and force seen this century. But time will tell.

    • Mike

      I absolute agree mate.

      I second what you said. Thats exactly the strategy. If they rush to take raqqa asap its better.

      Isis is fallling apart.. Within a few weeks they will become weaker and weaker and start leaving the frontlines..