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Last weekend, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) continued loosing ground in the province of Hama. Government forces, led by the Tiger Forces and the 5th Assault Corps, liberated Halfaya, Al-Batish, Tall Batish, Zilaqiat, Al-Tarabiaa and Hisa, and secured the Mahardeh Power Plant. Government forces advanced in the villages of Buwaida, Masasinah where they were engaged in clashes with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)-led forces.
Pro-militant sources argue that the “opposition” defenses collapsed in northern Hama as a result of a long artillery and air bombing campaign conducted by the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Aerospace Forces.
The militant-held towns of Lataminah and Morek will likely become the next mid-term targets of the ongoing government offensive in northern Hama.
Latamihan is an important logistical hub of HTS and its allies used to resupply militant units operating in the area. In 2004, the town had population over 16,000 people. According to available information, militant military HQs and operation rooms as well as a high number of weapon depots are located in tunnels under the town.
If the Syrian Arab Army and its allies retake Lataminah, they will be shorten frontline and secure their recent gains in northern Hama. The problem is that Lataminah was a constant target of airstrikes in April and in late March. Thus, a notable part of the infrastructure of the town is already damaged. Its infrastructure will be further damaged if clashes erupt in the area.
In turn, Morek is strategically located along the Hama-Aleppo highway. In 2004, the town had population over 14,000 people.
The advance along this highway will allow government troops to outflank militant forces deployed in Lataminah and Kafrzita. If government forces are able to retake Morek, militants in Lataminah will be in a very complicated situation and will likely withdraw from the town like they already did in Halfaya.
The problem is that this operation will draw more resources than the direct advance on Lataminah. So, it will not be possible if ISIS launches some “unexpected” large-scale advance in the countryside of Palmyra or at the Ithriyah-Aleppo highway. The terrorist group has repeatedly did this de-facto assisting “moderate opposition” forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
If government forces don’t face an additional military pressure on the other frontlines from some tactical allies of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, they will likely continue to develop the advance in order to secure the whole northern countryside of Hama.
>> it will not be possible if ISIS launches some “unexpected” large-scale advance in the countryside of Palmyra or at the Ithriyah-Aleppo highway. The terrorist group has repeatedly did this de-facto assisting “moderate opposition” forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.<<
That's a big if. Then again I'm surprised it hasn't happened already.
In the meanwhile ISIS has their own problems :-)
Their ranks are infested with spies and informers plus keep having their top officials killed off by airstrikes and special ops raids. Their fighters aren’t happy since their pay rates keep being reduced while attacks upon them intensify. A good number of their fighters are local recruits who just joined to earn some sort of income plus get something to eat on a regular basis for a change. Many of them have been deserting at the first chance they get while others run off when attacked to hide amongst the general population.
SAA can give some ground in these areas, falling back to the best defensive ground and leaving ISIS to Trump, while moving assault forces to crush HTS/AQ with Powell style overwhelming force. Trump will hit ISIS for you, but not HTS.
During 2015-16, ISIS was constantly fighting the SAA for access to the Ithriyah highway so they could have a direct route to Tabqa yet had no success gaining any ground. Then they gave up until last month when they launched one attack that was quickly beaten off so that sector became quiet again. That attack was at a position where ISIS had a short distance to go to reach “rebel” held territory to the north so probably were trying to create a corridor for their fighters to escape thru to join up with HTS. ISIS also launched an attack to the west a few hours after the cruise missile strike but it was west of Palmyra where Lebanon wasn’t that far away and the SAA controlled region they had to pass thru had few villages and towns. That attack was beaten off so now those trapped units are being deployed to defend the gas fields west/NW of Palmyra. Armies generally position second rate troops in their quiet sectors so imagine ISIS did the same in eastern Hama and Homs provinces where things were quiet most of the time except near the Ithriyah highway.
Maybe Ithriya front or Deir Ezzor, they will not attack Palmyra because they know that SAA is waiting for them to come out of their caves.
Deir Ezzor has the disadvantage though that its not a front that the SAA can rush reinforcements from other fronts too. Only airstrikes. Plus its become quite a meatgrinder that eats up ISIS troops for little to no gain.
If they could get out without heavy loss, I would suggest SAA give up on Dier Ezzor, leave it to YPJ, and use the defenders to crush HTS in the west, which Trump won’t do for them. However I fear for the rear guard in such a pullout; and if the rear guard can’t be redeployed against HTS, then it won’t be worthwhile.
Deir ezzor has very strategic importance and the wont give it to YPJ
If it’s more important than Idlib, then fine; but I can’t see why. it looks to me like anyone in control of the region can just bypass the city, and that will soon be YPJ; so you might as well grab Idlib instead.
Deir Ezzor comes with the fire control over some of the most important oil facilities, and having a step in that region is key. Although, if the SAA is besieged, there is very little they can do to protect the only future source for Syrian economy.
I just heard an argument that Syrian oil is low quality and Idlib, or at least western, agricultural land has more economic value.
If that’s true, Gulf regimes wouldn’t be investing millions of $ for their proxies in eastern Syria. That NATO airstrike (on SAA in Deir ez Zor which killed almost 100 Syrian soldiers was not mistake. Immediate large scale ISIS offensive followed, which would not be possible without foreknowledge. CIA, GCHQ and Turkish MiT is constantly providing ISIS and al Qaida intelligence, advisory, satelite images and logistics. Syria is the ultimate battle of globalists to continue scamming the world with PETRODOLLAR aka FAKE CURRENCY. Russia and China are preparing to return GOLD backed economy vs Council of Foreign Relations scammers and mass murderers.
They want a pipeline, not the local oil so much; and perhaps the airstrike was aimed at the ISIS offensive preparations and missed. Though I just might be able to believe NATO might hit whichever side is winning in order to make them destroy each other completely, (as I might, to sides that both ban abortion) I will not believe they are true ISIS allies. I will confess I can’t understand why anyone would fight over currency. that’s above my pay grade.
Here is a quick Petrodollar (The Biggest scam in the world’s history, backed by mighty war machine and western bank owners) upgrade to your pay grade https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8AxEZ7RKdU
I don’t believe it because Russia sells oil and the Soviet Union before it, and the US has never been able to force Russia to use only dollars, except perhaps in the 90’s, but not before or after. Plus oil producing nations buy all sorts of goods from all sorts of nations, such as Toyotas, for which they must exchange to yen at some point. so even if they were forced to hold dollars briefly, it wouldn’t be for very long and it doesn’t much matter.
‘Key….Who gives a damn what you believe? Who gives a damn about the WHOLE banking system in the world that is currently under SWIFT? The ones who doesn’t want anymore to pay for US waging wars wherever they choose, for GENOCIDAL and imperialistic western system. Research the subject, then come back if you can.
Abortion rights are a hundred times more important than any of this fluff.
This one is even better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUHmxBEZeU0
Gold is worthless except for decorative items and plating on electrical contacts. Modern currencies are based on what a country can provide in goods and services inside their own borders and for export. The Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq economies are heavily dependent on oil & gas exports via ocean going vessels so all would like having pipelines going to the Med then on to Europe. The most practical routes run thru Syria where there are two existing pipeline routes to the coast. They could run some across to Egypt’s Sinai coast to near Gaza where supertanker and LNG terminals would be out of the way of Suez traffic plus provide work for Gaza residents but politics and religious strife had nixed that possibility so far along with the Syrian routes. The “rebellion” in Syria started after Oil & Gas geologists speculated that Syria could have large reserves of oil and gas off their coastline. That got their Sunnis excited who wanted to be charge of all the big money and jobs that would bring in.
There’s plenty of energy websites that show countries oil & gas fields, what those contain (light sweet, intermediate, heavy, sour, wet or dry gas), their reserves, historical production rates and regions which are awaiting exploration for possible deposits. Syria’s production peaked out during the late 90’s and had flat lined at 40-50,000 barrels per day in 2011. Most of that came from the Deir Azzor fields which was exported due to it’s low quality (very sour, 1/2 asphalt with little gasoline and lubrication oils). Assad may be able to use that stuff once the fighting stops for rebuilding the roads and getting their agriculture back on track. He’ll need some modular refineries which can remove the sulfur for fertilizer, crack the kerosene, mineral spirits and gasoline into quality diesel fuels and gas then use the waste asphalt for paving roads. All that concrete block rubble strewn around can be hammered into a good roadbed base and the produced fuels can be used in the construction equipment. Iraq has huge untapped reserves of similar stuff in their NW region that’s under Kurdish control.
Leaving Deir Azzor besieged is a good propaganda tool for Assad since it provides proof that ISIS can’t defeat a well-trained modern army and since the rest of the “rebels” and extremists are on par with ISIS, as for equipment and training, are unable to fare any better.
However, I heard there are 10,000 christians in Dier Ezzor and I can see ho they might be hard to airlift out. So it makes sense to stay for that reason.
May take a bit more effort but they can land forces there as they did before. What they need is to land special ops in Sukhna and take the town with help of Russian planes, while also pushing from Palmyra, since the Aleppo-Raqqa offensive has fizzled out.
I can see ISIS launching a major assault SW of Ithriya where they would have the shortest distance to link up with “rebel” groups on the other side of the highway. They’ll do that to create a corridor for ISIS units trapped west of Palmyra to flee thru so they can join up with HTS in Idlib where they have a better chance of escaping to Turkey. Not all of them are wild-eyed pistol wavers that ain’t afraid to die.
True, we have to remember that a lot of ‘FSA’ ended up into Al-Qaeda, doesn’t matter what they call themselves every week.
Russia has more than enough intelligence devices to know very well all terrorists movements, and there is not reason to have an unexpected large-scale advance (in Palmyra, for example) without the full acknowledge of Russia. If Russia negocite something for the terrorists retake Palmyra, that is another different thing. It is not possible to believe that Russia can not do something to avoid this.
Hmmmm, didn’t ISIS re-capture Palmyra with 10K force by surprise as recent as Dec 2016? where were those intelligence devices that time? Imho it is a mistake to consider IS different from the alphabet-soup jihadist gangs in Idlib (lets call them turks for that is what they are) or FSA down south, they are all coordinated and led as one enemy force by NATO/US. There are numerous examples of them working as a team, i.e whilst freeing Aleppo from the turks Palmyra was lost to IS again or freeing Eastern Aleppo from IS brought a offensive on Homs by the turks. Since NATO/US are officially fighting IS and can not simply change their stance publicly, they invented FSA who is now taking over from IS in the south at the same time another invention of NATO/US: SDF are taking over from the East. This is nothing but a well organised criminal destruction of a sovereign country by the coalition of the killing, and if someone is questioning their motifs? the Yinon plan (Israel to become imperial regional power), Qatar pipeline as part of EU energy diversification, curbing Iran’s influence and propping Saudi’s, curbing Russia’s influence and propping another Chechnya led jihadist uprise in Russia, etc…