Syrian War Report – April 14, 2017: ISIS Chemical Weapons Depot Blew Up Near Deir Ezzor?

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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) continued their attempts to retake the town of Souran from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies in northern Hama. The SAA and the NDF had regrouped and deployed artillery units and military equipment for this operation. An intense clashes are ongoing in the area.

Reports appear that some HTS allies failed to absorb the pressure from government forces and decided to withdraw from the area. If confirmed, this will likely lead to collapse of militants defenses in the area soon.

ISIS has carried out a number of light counter-attacks against the SAA and the NDF in the countryside of Palmyra. According to the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq, terrorists had killed some 14 pro-government fighters and a BMP infantry fighting vehicle.

Meanwhile, government forces continued their operation aimed to capture the strategic Palmyra-Al-Seen highway. The SAA targeted ISIS points in Al-Mahseh, Al-Suane villages and in Al-Qariaten dam area

According to opposition sources the Syrian Air Force have carried out multiple air strikes targeting US-backed FSA group “Assud Al-Sharqiah” forces in the Syrian Desert to stop their attack aimed to break the siege on Jaish Al-Islam in East Qalamun.

Pro-Turkish social media activists have been spreading rumors that the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are going to hand over Tal Rifa’at, Mennagh and their surroundings to the Turkish-backed coalition of militant groups, known as the Free Syrian Army in northern Aleppo. According to the statements, this would be a result of some secret deal. However, so far, it just looks as a part of the ongoing Turkish media campaign over the Syrian conflict launched following the alleged chemical attack in Idlib. Since then, the Turkish leadership have repeatedly called for use of force and other measures against the Syrian government. The recent reports are likely aimed at fueling tensions between the SDF and the SAA in the province of Aleppo.

The SDF has announced the start of the fourth phase of its operation to capture the ISIS-held city of Raqqah. It’s main goal is to seize the northern countryside of the city. The SDF said that this effort will be supported by the US-coalition and called on civilians in the villages north of Raqqah to cooperate with them.

At the same time, ISIS terrorists are still in control of the important town of Tabqah and a part of the Tabqah dam west of Raqqah. The US-backed force is still struggling to capture these points from ISIS. According to pro-ISIS sources, some 28 SDF fighters were killed in the recent military developments in the area.

On April 11, the US-led coalition’s fighter jet hit a group of SDF fighters south to Tabqah killing 18 of them. The two sides allegedly launched a “joint investigation” to avoid similar incidents in the future.

On April 13, the Syrian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the US-led coalition’s airpower targeted headquarters and chemical weapons depot belonging the ISIS terrorist group in the village of Hatla near the city of Deir Ezzor on April 12. According to the statement, a toxic cloud appeared as a result of the airstrike, inflicting major casualties (“hundreds deaths”) among civilians in the area. The Syrian Defense Ministry said that the incident confirmed the ability of various terrorist groups to obtain, to transport, to keep and to use chemical weapons. It also added that it does not possess any kind of chemical weapons and does not use them and warned that terrorists could use chemical weapons again in order to blame government forces.

Following the Syrian Defense Ministry statement, Col John L. Dorrian, spokesman for the US-led coalition, said that it is not true. The Russian Defense Ministry also said that it “does not have information, confirming the reports on deaths of people and nature of destructions, caused by the bombing, carried out by aircraft of the international coalition near Deir Ezzor.

Separately, reports appeared in social media that some ISIS warehouse was in fire in Hatla in the evening of April 12. However, no visual confirmation has been provided so far.

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  • Bill Wilson

    I’m guessing that the Palmyra – Al-Seen Highway is the one that run’s up towards Al-Sa’an. That’s the closest name I could find on Wikipedia’s map of the Syrian Civil War. According to their map, ISIS only has a presence on two mountain tops near the road just north of Palmyra and Wadi al-Zeeb, which is a village at the far northern end of the road. If that’s the highway mentioned in this article, I’m curious to know if the SAA was waiting to advance up it once they got confirmation that the intersecting roads were made impassable on both sides by the “missing” Tomahawk missiles so wouldn’t have to worry about being attacked by ISIS once they have full control of the route?
    If that is the case, then there should be a fair number of ISIS units stuck to the west. I remember when ISIS and the SAA were battling out for the longest time around at the northern end near Al-Sa’an with the front line remaining quiet to the south. ISIS did launch an attack near Al-Sa’an last month that was beaten off fairly quickly. ISIS controls quite a few villages in that region but those had been abandoned by everyone earlier since those were demolished from fighting and their location had no strategic nor economic values worth hanging onto. I’m betting that ISIS wasted many of the stationed fighters lives doing battle to the north and withdrew the better ones to Raqqa and elsewhere recently while leaving behind the chumps to mind the store. The SAA may have their “chump” units facing them since that sector had remained quiet for years. They may find themselves being host to surrendering ISIS fighters who ran out of foodstuffs and had better sense to quit than wait around until they were attacked.

    • PZIVJ1943

      Good info.
      Is this a canyon bridge that is taken out to cut off ISUS supply lines.
      I did not spot it on the map.

  • DJ Double D

    From this Map, it looks like all the recent gains by the SAA on the western side of Palmyra is now evaporated. A week ago, it seemed as if they were pushing towards Homs in a pretty good advance. Now it’s all gone.

    • Bill Wilson

      They probably fell back to consolidate their positions around the Jihar oil and gas fields after deciding it would be easier to take the N-S highway to the east. The only real prize north of Palmyra is the Sha’er Gas Field, which was discovered just before the fighting broke out so only has a few wells.

      • Jonathan Cohen

        And perhaps SAA is moving assault forces west to crush HTS/AQ first and leave ISIS to fight Americans to the extent possible, as I predicted. Americans seem less inclined to fight HTS/AQ so SAA has no choice in the west.

    • EL ZORRO

      It appear that I.S.I.S received another supply of weapons and INTERNATIONAL MERCENARIES after John McCain visited them.

      • Arjuna

        America just gave the “friendly, moderate” rebels more TOWs than they know what to do with. I guess they’ll start shooting them at Ambulances full of wounded people again. How friendly!

  • Ernst Lindenberg

    The Saker was right when saying that there will be no peacy in Syria until neocon/neolib Empire has lost power – i.e until dollar has collapsed. Pushing weapons to thousands of zealots and war goes on… That’s how bully acts.

    • Arjuna

      And no more oil left under the Kingdom. Don’t forget where the Hellish Ideology comes from…

  • Rodney Loder

    The highlight of the chemical attack that triggered a world wide support for Trump putting himself in a position to dump Assad is the Armada, but a Djinn friend of mine is telling me he heard that Trump is now willing to give and accept platitudes instead of war, we think Trump has done the stupid thing.
    But there again how could he do anything else?.