Syrian War Report – April 13, 2017: Syrian Army Suffers Setback In Daraa

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Voiceover by Harold Hoover

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies are preparing for a final push in order to retake the whole al-Minshiah neighborhood of the Daraa provincial capital. Earlier this month, the group captured about 80% of al-Minshiah from government forces.

In turn, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) are making efforts to rebuild its fortifications in the government-held part of the neighborhood and conducting counter-attacks in order to delay the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham(HTS)-led offensive.

On the Garigha-Saidah road, the SAA destroyed a vehicle carrying 11 HTS fighters with an IED killing them all. Another IED destroyed a HTS vehicle on the Ankhil-Ethryia road in the Daraa countryside. The SAA also targeted gatherings of HTS fighters with heavy rockets in Al-Karak, Al-Bijaja and Al-Minshiah neighborhoods of Daraa.

Government forces are in a complicated situation in the area because the Syrian military is not able to deploy fresh reinforcements. The SAA and other pro-government groups are deeply involved in clashes in other parts of Syria, especially in northern Hama and in the countryside of Palmyra.

Meanwhile, HTS is able to redeploy fresh forces from the frontline with ISIS-linked Jaish-Khalied. Clashes between the groups had been halted because of unknown reasons.

Intense fighting between HTS and government forces was reported in Qaboun and Jobar in the eastern countryside of the Syrian capital. The sides used heavy military equipment and artillery to pound each other’s positions. However, neither side was able to achieve notable gains.

In the countryside of Palmyra, the SAA and its allies continued their advance against ISIS in the Sawwanah Junction and Sawwanah. Khunayfis and the nearby phosphorus mine are tactical goals of the government advance.

Meanwhile, pro-ISIS sources claimed that ISIS terrorists had killed over 30 Syrian soldiers as a result of a successful ambush around the Camel track area south of the ancient city.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces further tightened the siege of the ISIS-held town of Tabqah west of Raqqah. However, they were not able to enter it because of ISIS counter-attacks.

On April 12, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The event followed a meeting between Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The Russian side didn’t provide many details on what the three discussed. What is clear, is that the sides are in strong disagreement over the incident regarding alleged usage of chemical weapons in the province of Idlib and the US missile strike on Syria’s Ash Sha’irat military airfield. The US blames the Syrian government for the chemical attack and says that the missile strike was a legitimate response. Moscow disagrees. It called the attack a possible false flag operation and said the missile strike was an act of aggression.

Putin added that Russia has intelligence indicating that more provocative incidents involving toxic agents may follow in Syria allowing the US to justify the usage of force in the country.

Meanwhile, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution pertaining to the chemical weapon attack in Syria. The resolution was introduced by the UK, France, and the US. The resolution was a slightly revised version of a previous and similar document. It demanded that Damascus hand over all information regarding flights which occurred on the day of the incident to the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and to provide access to the military bases from which strikes against Khan Sheikhoun could be carried out. The resolution also threatened Syria with sanctions and the use of military force. The last issue was likely the reason of Moscow’s decision. If the draft resolution is accepted, it would be used to justify full-scale military action against the Assad government by the US-led block.

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  • Rob

    Syria is a small country but took too much resources in anti-terrorism war due to United Snakes of America, United Killers and Israhell.

  • Solomon Krupacek

    American used MOAB in afghanistan.

    • Bill Wilson

      The US may use some in Syria if they find fleeing ISIS units bunched up at remote locations.

    • Jesus

      Russia can use a few Father of all bombs dropped from T160, to obliterate jihadi defenses and open gaps for an armored trust to cut off the Hama pocket and exterminate it.

      • Solomon Krupacek

        dreamer

        can = never do

        • Jesus

          Dreamer my foot, Putin is more of a politician, if a hardliner was in his place, things would be more dire for terrorists.
          Putin is trying to solve the problem politically, a hardliner would solve it by sheer force.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            Putin is dreamr, too.

          • Jesus

            Your one liners do not mean much.
            Putin is what he is, he is not a military man, a military man would go in Syria and annihilate the terrorists and the sponsors of terrorism.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            but this is the only good way

  • Bill Wilson

    Jaish-Khalied doesn’t have all that many fighters. Perhaps HTS made nice with them so they could reduce their numbers by having them fight the SAA so they’ll be easier to eliminate later on?

    • Jonathan Cohen

      By the same token, I predict SAA will (or should) go defensive on Daesh fronts like near Palmyra and transfer forces to attack HTS/AQ first, while letting the US and Daesh exhaust each other. The US is really fighting Daesh, but seems to be protecting HTS/AQ, so HTS/AQ should be eliminated first; Daesh after.

  • Jonathan Cohen

    I think Trump destroyed a token 6 old SAA jets to avoid getting impeached by McCain/Pence and will not do it again, and if Russia can accept that, it is a small price to pay for world peace. Trump might even pay for the 6 old jets if he can do so without McCain finding out. However Putin might know better if he can see more false flag chemicals coming.
    Most Americans 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.

  • gfsdyughjgd .

    Time has come for Syrians,Iranians,Yemens to abandona allah for Turkey and Saudi Arabia then the war will stop.Second option is to air drop thousands of pork in rebel and terrorist held areas then those headchoppers will run to Turkey and Saudi,Qatar and Kuwait end of war.

  • Mikronos

    I think Assad has run into a wall in terms of manpower. Most of the fighting age males are already in the army, with the rebels or out of the country. The recently mobilized trained and deployed 5th Division, whose CO promptly got himself killed, looked rather long in the tooth to be much good on mobile warfare. They are supposed to be giving a good account of themselves in the Mountains around Palmyra but if they’re an elite unit, Bashir’s i trouble.