Syrian War Report – April 12, 2017: Government Forces Advance Northwest Of Aleppo

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Since April 10, pro-government forces, led by the Republican Guard and Liwa al-Quds, have been making attempts to advance against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies northwest of the city of Aleppo. So far, government troops captured the areas of Tell Shuwehnah and Khirbet Anadan and tried to push further in the diraction of Maarat al-Artic and Babis. However, this advance have been repelled by forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).  On April 12, clashes continued in the area with both government forces and militants are trying to advance on each other.

While some pro-government outlets described this advance as a large-scale push aiming to encircle Anadan and the nearby points, the Republican Guard and Liwa al-Quds will likely not be able to achieve this goal because of a lack of manpower for this advance. The real goal of the operation is to put an additional pressure on HTS members in the Anadan plain amid the continued clashes in northern Hama where the group is also deeply involved. Nonetheless, if defenses of the HTS-led forces collapse by some reason, government troops will try to use this to achieve their maximum goal in the area.

The situation remains tense in northern Hama with the Tiger Forces, the National Defense Forces (DNF) and other pro-government factions embedded with Iranian and Russian military advisors are putting pressure on HTS—led forces aiming to retake Souran and Halfaya.

The Russian-trained 5th Legion and the NDF backed up by the Russian Aerospace Forces, recaptured the Al Taj hill, a number of points in the Mazburad Mountain, Qasr al-Halabat, Sukkari, Syria Tal and the Al-Abtar Mountain from ISIS terrorists in the countryside of Palmyra.

Pro-government forces are now pushing along the road linking the al-Busairi crossroad and Palmyra. In this case, Jabal al-Khan, Jabal Abtar, the Sawwanah Junction, Khufayfis and the Khufayfis Phosphate Mine are the main targets of the government advance.

This advance shows that the Syrian military is aiming to secure further the Homs-Palmyra highway from the southern and northern directions instead of pushing to Deir Ezzor, as SF forecasted earlier.

The push of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant coalition against ISIS in the desert southwest of Palmyra also contributes to the Syrian Armed Forces’ concerns. If the FSA reaches al-Bardah and the al-Busairi crossroad first, they will be able to threaten the southern flank of the government forces deployed in the Tiyas Airbase.

On April 12, so-called “green buses” arrived the villages of Zabadani and Madaya in southwestern Syria in order to evacuate the first batch of militants and members of their families from the area. According to reports, about 3,000 militants and civilians will evacuate. Government forces will set a full control over the Zabadani pocket.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday that Moscow must choose between good relations with the US and its allies and support for Iran, Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. With this statement, the secretary of state aimed to strengthen his position amid ahead of his meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. However, it’s no likely that ultimatums could help to find a joint ground over the issue.

During his first press briefing, Secretary of Defense James Mattis once again confirmed that the US is set to blame the Assad government for the Idlib chemical attack and offered a stern warning that the Syrian government will pay “very very stiff price” if further chemical attacks were launched in the future.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said that only two facilities for production and storage of chemical weapons are located on the Syrian territory, controlled by militants. “Destruction of 10 of the 12 facilities, used for storage and production of chemical weapons, was confirmed by OPCW experts. The Syrian authorities do not have access to the two remaining facilities, as they are located on the territory, controlled by the so-called opposition. For this reason, the OPCW cannot confirm the fact of destruction of chemical weapons on them,” Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy said.

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  • paul

    It seems that Tillerson is meeting with President Putin. I don’t see
    this as a good sign. He should have been treated with the contempt he
    so richly merits . I am also very suspicious. I fear that Tillerson
    will offer some sort of softening of the USA’s stance on Ukraine in
    return for Russia abandoning its Middle East partners. Such an offer
    would be poisonous and I only hope the Russians see it that way if my
    suspicions are correct.

    The Americans and British are squalid liars down the the very core of
    their beings. Don’t ever trust them.

    • Alex

      Giving up Syria or Donbass is equal to suicide for Russia, so no i don’t think that they will do that.

      • Dustil schmit

        Russia can always switch to Libya if anything goes bad.

        • Alex

          Lol, and who would want to do business with them if they ditch their partners in the most difficult moment.

    • Jonathan Cohen

      I am wondering how the tomahawks are changing Syrian and Russian deployments??? My guess and advice is that Syria will move towards an HTS/AQ first strategy and reduce offensives on the Daesh front until after HTS/AQ is defeated (like the allied Germany first strategy that really wasn’t). I also expect Russia to send more replacement equipment including replacing the destroyed aircraft and bombs, but less personnel to keep Russians out of harms way (except for air defense near Russian bases). Am I guessing right???

    • Aleks Black

      I don’t think anything will come out of these talks, its just a deescalation, because there are voices within Russia demanding a strong response. Trump is vexing the midget in North Korea, and that also requires some clarification. US sent a carrier group to the sea of japan. Trump is stirring the hornets nest over there. I foresee worse case scenario where US could become engulfed in combat on multiple fronts. There is the possibility of DPRK deploying a nuke against the carrier group, or as a reprisal for a botched assassination attempt. China will look upon American games in DPRK similarly to American involvement in Ukraine. Dangerous times.

      • Dustil schmit

        Well China will probably not let that happen and best way to do that is replace Kim with his nephew.

        • Aleks Black

          May not be that simple to replace a paranoid nuclear-armed midget.

          • PZIVJ1943

            Don’t talk about “chubby” that way :)

          • Dustil schmit

            There are many ways to get rid of him. Many of them are sick and twisted ways like make him go more crazy, poison his lover, direct approach of coarse is getting one of the spies they have to kill him etc.

          • Aleks Black

            I don’t believe in dictator swap. I say let the Chinese, Russian, Japanese and South Koreans handle it. It’s their problem. I would simply announce a 0 tolerance for foolishness policy. Meaning that violence requires a deadly out of proportion response.

          • Dustil schmit

            No China might be the one to do it. One candidate child of the now dead brother called Kim Han-sol. Kim Han-sol in under China protection/

          • Aleks Black

            There is a show about this, I think they call it game of thrones, it is about real bad hombres, same issues trump has going on. Anyway, it suggests puppet swap or long live the king is a dangerous game either way you play it.

          • Dustil schmit

            Well apparently why Kim Han-sol father and the uncle of current leader were killed were because of close ties to China. So the game is already on.

          • Aleks Black

            I think China is mindful of not being bitten by their own dog, but lets see what happens.

          • Dustil schmit

            Well one thing for sure is you don’t want to be part of that family.

          • Aleks Black

            Sometimes I think Trump is an overachiever. I wish he kept to small things for the first year, like fixing health care and appointing judges, maybe lowering taxes, before toppling dictators and redirecting carrier groups.

      • Mikronos

        The presence of a US fleet ‘encouraging’ the SORKs is absolutely nothing new to vex the NORKS. The Norks having ICBMs seems to be what all the hoopla is all about. Recent bumpff is speculating on the ‘threat’ posed by sarin-tipped ICBMs being pointed toward Japan. Accordin to big Whitey the Norks having nukuler tipped anything will not stand, America-wise.

        Question is would Ping let Trumpco do it?

    • Douglas Houck

      I don’t see much changing.

      Russia is involved in Syria to defeat terrorists, that they consider a top national priority. I don’t see them leaving till that is accomplished.

      I don’t see any horse trading as Ukraine and Syria are two different issues, both of vital national interests to Russia. And besides, Russia already has what it wants in Ukraine. The US can offer little that is of interest to the Russians. Russia and their economy has moved beyond the sanctions imposed over Crimea. Besides, the US has little interest in Ukraine at this point.

      For as weird as it is, both Russia and the US still want to work together to defeat ISIS and terrorism. Sec. of Defense J. Mattis has said pretty much, “Don’t do it again”. President Putin’s statement that jihadists are planning on doing gas attacks again, in various locations was a smart preemptive move. This is an incredibly brutal war.

      The issue of removing President Bashar Al-Assad has already been discussed ad nauseam. Regardless of how you feel about President Al-Assad he is the only one to keep post war Syria together. If you remove him it falls back into chaos. As much as the HNC wants the keys to Damascus handed to them, it isn’t going to happen. At some point either real negotiations for peace take place or the various opposition groups will be eliminated. Their choice.

      • paul

        What was in my mind was recognition of Crimea as de facto part of Russian.

    • Mikronos

      Nothing is going to change in Ukraine while Porko and the fascists are in charge. No matter what the US tells Russia. Anything Trump says in that regard should be taken with a dose of salts. If Russia sells out on Syria, where the US has no ‘vital interests’, America won’t be selling out on Ukraine where it does..

    • Bubba Junior

      I trust the fact that Putin is smarter than his adverseries.

  • Expo Marker

    I had a bad feeling about Mattis, ever since he was chosen by Trump in the campaign. If someone in the military has a nickname like “Mad dog”, be concerned.

    • Expo Marker

      And Tilerson enabled homosexuality in the Boy Scouts, and suddenly starts talking about placing ultimatums on Russia, in George Bush fashion too
      “You’re with us or the enemy.”

      • Attrition47

        Oh get your head out your arse, you homophobic twat.

        • Jonathan Cohen

          Russia should Annex Syria to bring in abortion rights as in Russia since violating abortion rights is the cause of all oil, water and territorial war. Not one of the terrorists was aborted and few of their mothers had the option. Annex Israel too for the same reason since they recently banned abortion as well, to breed more cannon fodder.

          • greatndit

            Abortion again? do you ever experience a situation where you cant abort your unwanted child?
            just search google & you can abort your child at home

          • Jonathan Cohen

            Not safely.

  • Rob

    Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, are regional blocks of Russia and are allied forces against Western terrorism in Asia and Eastern Europe. United Snakes of America should never be trusted.

    USA cannot attack any country directly that included in Russian block. They can only start covert operation like terrorism, chemical attack, WMD, etc to blame and attack for that.

  • Dustil schmit

    Amazed if they just let YPG encircle Anndan and then SAA try to reach them from zahraa.

    • Jonathan Cohen

      HOORAY! ABORTION RIGHTS FOR ANADAN AND RAQQA! Russia should annex Syria, Israel and Saudi Arabia directly to bring them Russian abortion rights instead of backing anti-abortion local proxies like Assad.

      • greatndit

        Abortion right? even without abortion right people still can abort their unwanted baby secretly.
        so what s the point of abortion right?
        why it’s so important to you? it’s useless

        • Jonathan Cohen

          To save the galaxy from territorial war.

  • Jonathan Cohen

    Most American’s would cheer if Russia bombed Saudi Arabia like Trump promised. Fewer, but still many Americans would cheer Iran for doing so. We certainly wish Russia had stayed in Afghanistan long enough to prevent 9/11.

    • Thegr8rambino

      putin should have stopped america from invading iraq, or anywhere else in the middle east, we wouldnt have been in this mess today

      • Jonathan Cohen

        If Bush had annexed Iraq, they would have abortion rights under our constitution! Russia needs to do likewise, in Afghanistan too.

      • Jonathan Cohen

        If America had annexed Iraq and Russia had annexed Saudi Arabia, both would have abortion rights. Russia should fight Saudi Arabia, not the US. (The US should also fight Saudi Arabia, but I’m more likely to talk Russia into it.)

        • Solomon Krupacek

          big mistake, that in coutry, where lived your mother, was no abortion right :(

          • Jonathan Cohen

            My mother had her last child after she got abortion rights, which she chose not to use.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            she should begin with you

          • Jonathan Cohen

            too late, but it’s not too late for some ISIS wives.

      • More

        Thegr8rambino

        The US, UK invasion of Iraq actually saved Russia from financial collapse.

        Back in 2001 – 2002, Russia was on its knees as non ethnic Russians who consider Israel as their homeland were robbing Russia blind by stealing state assets, looting and plundering banks, refusing to pay corporation tax, siphoning money to the #US, UK and Israel along with all manner of criminality.

        The oil price was hovering at around US$22 in 2001 and increased to US$30 when the US started bombing and then invading Afghanistan.

        Then as a result of the US, UK invasion of Iraq in 2003, the oil price increased to US$40 to US$50 range.

        During 2005 to 2006, the oil price increased to US$60 due to increased demand from the growing economies of India and China.

        • Thegr8rambino

          So then the US should have invaded Israel, that would have saved Russia from the thieves ;)

          • More

            Thegr8rambino
            “…the thieves…”
            The thieves were banned from Russia proper during the Czarist era to protect Russian people, they had to live in the Pale, modern day Baltic’s, Poland, etc.

            These people have now evolved into the Neoconservatives and NeoLiberals who control the US Financial system, Media, Military Complex, etc.

          • Thegr8rambino

            What’s wrong with them? Are they satanic?