Syria & Iraq War Report – October 20, 2016: Russia-made TOS-1A Heavy Flamethrower Systems in Battle for Mosul

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US-backed moderates from Jabhat al-Nusra and other ‘opposition groups’, which operate inside and outside Aleppo, are not going to participate in the humanitarian pause announced by the Syrian and Russian militaries. On October 19, Syria and Russia reopened corridors in Aleppo, giving militants a chance to leave the city during mini-ceasefire scheduled for October 20. In turn, Jabhat al-Nusra (or Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) and its allies relaunched offensive operations in southwestern Aleppo and seized the main part of 1070 Apartment Project. On October 20, militants continued attacks in the area.

Turkish-backed militants and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are clashing over the Syrian town of Tell Rifaat.

An alliance of Turkish-backed militant groups, operating under the banner of Ankara-led Operation Euphrates Shield, declared Tell Rifaat, 40km north of Aleppo, a military zone and gave the YPG 48 hours to leave the town on October 18. It was seized by the YPG from Turkish-backed militants in February 2016. On October 19, the so-called ‘FSA’ started shelling of YPG positions in Tell Rifaat while the Turkish Armed Forces’ artillery hit other YPG positions in Hasajik, Hasieh, Shahba Dam and Um Hosh. In turn, pro-Kurdish sources started disseminate info that the Russian airpower had bombed FSA militants south of Mare and at Tell Malid. On October 20, firefight and artillery strikes continued.

The reason of tensions is the recent YPG advance in the direction of strategic town of Al-Bab. The YPG took control of few villages located at the important roads heading to the ISIS-controlled town. In turn, to take control of Al-Bab and prevent the YPG’s chances to link up the Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria are one of the main goals of Turkish military operations in Syria.

On Wednesday, over 600 militants withdrew from the Mo’adhimiyah Al-Sham suburb of Damascus, passing its control to the Syrian army. The militants were transferred to Idlib province.

The Syrian Air Force delivered a series of airstrikes on Jabhat Fatah al-Sham positions in the provinces of of Latakia and Idlib, bombing terrorists near Zohra Katab Sandou and Tardin in northern Latakia and Hallouz and Um al-Qar in southwestern Idlib. The air raids resulted in elimination of 5 Jabhat Fatah al-Sham tactical units, 1 ammunition depot and at least 3 vehicles equipped with machine guns.

The Russian-made TOS-1A ‘Solntsepyok’ Heavy Flamethrower System was spotted among the Iraqi Federal Police’s artillery units shelling ISIS units deployed in the Shura area near the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul on October 18. TOS-1A systems were successfully used by the Iraqi army during the storm of Fallujah. Now, they are participating in the battle for Mosul.

On October 20, the Iraqi Air Force’s airstrike killed Wa’ad Youness, ISIS Governor in the Sahl region of Nineveh province. The event took place in the area northeast of the ISIS stronghold of Mosul. At the same day, the Iraqi military announced that the joint anti-ISIS forces have liberated 18 villages since the start of operation in Mosul countryside. Over 100 ISIS militants were killed during the operations.The main gains were achieved southeast of the ISIS stronghold. The ISIS-controlled towns of Bartallah and Bakhida are now the main priority of the Iraqi forces.

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  • paul

    Like so many things in this conflict I don’t understand why the SAA
    struggled so much to capture the 1070 Apartment Project only to loose
    it during the ceasefire. It all seems rather strange.

    • Terence Silvestre Jr.

      Very strange things my friend and for nothing. Because the terrorists will never let any aids o helps to arrive to citizens. They shot civilians trying to flee to safe zones. The only way to truly help the Alepo people is to liberate them of that hell destroying all terrorists in the area without breaks or inutils truces, prolonging the suffering of these citizens.
      This is not about to please West or no body but to resolve a conflict as soon as possible.

    • Seyed Hadi Aghazadeh

      look at the losses
      in the whole conflict SAA was slowly advancing
      and fast in retreat but with very small losses while terrorsts advance fast at the cost of many good fighters and recourses

      the terrorists will loose many fighters when SAA retakes the 1070 Project
      SAA and Hezbullah fighters know this area perfectly while terrorists get killed an new arrived reinforcements from idlib are not familiar with that location

      SAA is playing a game on time
      the so called syrian revolution is almost forgotten

      its a war between isis and al qaida VS Syrian government

      the few moderate opposition that existed are long gone
      time leads to victory for assad

      • Lord Humongous

        All players save Russia, Syria and the U.S. Are proxies.

      • Barry

        you are delusional. no armies willingly cede territory. period.
        The SAA is a shadow of itself. The real fighting is being done by HA, Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians (Guards and Army) and perhaps some volunteer militias like NDF and SSNP. SAA guards big cities and shakes down civilians for spending cash.
        The long game? They are losing men all the time. They needed this over years ago. Every day longer it goes, they bleed loyalists, esp Alawites. I saw numbers on soldiers killed and most of the officers’ funerals were in coastal region where Alawites predominate.
        Everything you wrote is backwards. Sorry, mate, i have no dog in this fight, but SAA is losing even when its allies are winning.

        • Bob

          Saw graph in Guardian (pro ‘rebel’) recently that showed militant losses running at basically double the SAA for last 12 months.

          • Barry

            That is bc Russian and US air forces (and Syrians) are bombing the heck out of them. No kidding.
            There are several different rebel “sides” – IS is counted along with FSA in most stats I read. Even divided, the numbers are huge due to indiscriminate attacks.
            And SAA is only functioning as a police force with five or so attack regiments thanks to HA, Iran, Russians and Afghan and Iraqi volunteer mercs.

          • Bob

            Sure, but the question is how sustainable is that for militants? Even the Guardian conceded that 40% of militant losses in last 12 months were non Syrian foreigner actors. That means Tunisians/Chechens/Moroccans/Libyans/Turks and especially Saudis.
            Without these foreign fighters the militant ranks would collapse quickly, and also be far more ‘domestic’ in nature with just localised militias, without the supervising foreign intelligence officers driving strategic action. It is foreign trained militant corps that are genuinely weaponized (Turkish military engineers get those captured T55’s up & running), effective, mobile and deployed as storm troops on major offensives. These foreigners are not limitless and the danger is now far more serious with Russian involvement vs Saudi pay packet of few hundred dollars a month to join militant ranks.
            The SAA may be bolstered by Iranians and proxies, but don’t think for a moment that the militants would survive a month without the GCC supplying weapons and munitions bought in Ukraine and Bulgaria, sent via Turkey, and foreign recruited manpower support of mercenaries/ jihadists.

    • Bob

      Is massive urban multistory complex – always difficult to clear and means high attrition rates for assaults. Another problem is militant suicide vehicles – they cause absolute devastation if get into SAA defensive positions fully laden with explosives and shrapnel. It seems the SAA/Hezbollah increasingly wary of high attrition costs in constant counter assaults on complex and working on strategic shift to surrounding and isolating whole complex by taking open high ground to sides with fire control as their preferred long term goal.

  • Lord Humongous

    TOS-1A ‘Solntsepyok’ Heavy Flamethrower System, flame on!!!

  • Ted

    Best voice over at Southfront! Keep paying this individual !