Syrian War Report – August 16, 2017: Army Repels Fierce ISIS Attack Near Euphrates River

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On Tuesday, ISIS fighters launched a large counter-attack against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and tribal forces west of the ISIS-held town of Maadan in the southern Raqqah countryside. According to reports, ISIS units entered the villages of al-Buhamad, Athshana, Salem Hamad and Ghanim Ali where heavy clashes erupted.

Initially some sources claimed that ISIS recaptured the villages from the SAA, but no photos or videos to confirm this were pprovided. In turn, pro-government sources denied claims about the ISIS advance.

On Wednesday, the clashes continued in the area west of Maadan. ISIS units were attempting to boost a buffer zone near the ISIS-held town.

Last weekend, the Syrian military shifted its military efforts from the southern Raqqah countryside to the province of Homs. The elite SAA Tiger Forces deployed for the advance along the Resafa-Sukhna road. ISIS decided to use it in order to improve its situation near the Euphrates River.

On Tuesday, Jaysh Usud al-Sharqiya downed a MiG-21 warplane belonging to the Syrian Arab Air Force in the Wadi Hamoud area near the border with Jordan. The plane was allegedly downed with a ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft mount. A pilot ejected from the plane but was captured by militants.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) has announced a formation of the Hama Army, a new operation room that includes several units defected from Ahrar al-Sham, a unit from Jund al-Sham and another one from Ajnad al-Sham. The Hama Army pledged allegiance to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) indicating the continuing collapse of any opposition to the al-Qaeda-linked group in the militant-held part of western Syria.

HTS is working to consolidate the power in Idlib in order to establish a unified political and military command over the rest of militant groups operating in the area. If this is done prior to the defeat of ISIS in central Syria, HTS-led forces will be able to delay significantly the SAA effort against ISIS with offensives on government held area in northern Hama, western Aleppo or at the Ithriyah-Aleppo highway. HTS’ aim is to prevent collapse of ISIS that would lead to the situation when the terrorist group and its allies could remain face to face with the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance in this part of Syria.

The similar strategy was repeatedly used during the previous years of the war when the so-called opposition was attacking the SAA in the most complicated moments of its operations against ISIS.

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  • Wahid Algiers

    Two SyAF pilots have to be exchanged now. Hopefully they will come back home.

  • Turbofan

    “The similar strategy was repeatedly used during the previous years of the war when the so-called opposition was attacking the SAA in the most complicated moments of its operations against ISIS”…Honestly I thought no one would ever mention that…If this is to happen then we can say that the whole evacuation of terrorist to Idlib was on big mistake as I always thought..Terrorist should have been completely destroyed in Aleppo City last December

    • Jan Tjarks

      Mutual interests of both, Al-Qaeda (HTS) and Daesh (IS). Both of their masters are not interested in the Syrian government winning the war, but that is actually too late. HTS will only be able to delay the inevitable.

      While the SAA probably will have a defensive stance against HTS, it can afford to play on time, as Deash is being mopped up at the same time. But with the end of Deash in Syria, the remaining forces most likely being withdrawn to Iraq, this will just turn around. A defensive stand against Deash incursions, while mopping up HTS.

      • Jesus

        It is immaterial what HTS’ and ISIS’ masters are interested in doing in Syria, they are loosing the war in Syria, and they cannot reverse its course. US is not going to put boots on the ground in Syria in any meaningful numbers, and their proxy HTS is rather pathetic, on two occasions they launched large attacks only to suffer heavy casualties and unable to exploit initial gains made due to their superior numbers.
        ISIS Which is more capable than HTS, is being annihilated by Russians, Syrians and allies, when they are done with ISIS, Idlib will be a hunting ground for a vastly improved SAA and allies.

        • gustavo

          Never underestimate what the barbarian (USA-NATO-Israel) could do. I hope Russia-Syria-Hezbolah-Inan have in mind the worst possible situation when operations are planned.

          • Jesus

            In the political/military chess, reality is supreme, while wishful thinking and presumed bravado are meaningless.

      • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

        The fact both groups Al Qaeda(HTS) and ISIS are Daesh to Syrians and Iraq and there is no difference between either to them.

    • Ma_Laoshi

      Calling for eradication sounds though, but the next group of moderates will get the message that they’d better fight to the death, leading to delays and losses for the loyalists. Plus of course for the Syrians, Aleppo is *their* city and they presumably didn’t want it utterly destroyed. But I thought that the capitulation+amnesty deals, unsatisfactory as they were, offered the way out of the dilemma. Maybe they didn’t know what else to do with foreign fighters besides evacuation.

      But yes, already a good while ago people warned that the gloating about the Idlib infighting was premature. These groups have never worried about a handful of losses, and, all the bleating about “moderates” notwithstanding, they are ideologically compatible. Eventually, a winner is bound to emerge, and the opposition will be a good deal stronger after consolidation.

  • Wahid Algiers

    The head quarter has urgently to strengthen this part of the fronts. Massive. Why? Have a look here: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960525000577

    • Jan Tjarks

      Desperate moves by a weakened master. While the 3000 men are quite a force, for sure, they will have to fight both, Daesh (which actually seems to get pissed off with their master) and SAA. Deir Ezzor won’t fall for neither of them, besides US warplanes showing their real targets again.

      However, that won’t save Daesh nor these muppets, who know very well what they are in for and will run quicker than a Cheetah when it comes to the crunch. Question is, how much more the USA can pull into this conflict. If it is the 3k only, it’s no win scenario anyway.

      • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

        The SAA is near to the base at Al Tanf already and no sign of an attack yet or imminent, warned everyone the US was waiting to leave the base since the US troops have no stomach to worsen the situation and fight Russia, called using the right to refuse an unjust order.

        • Blucross

          I am a hawk, (most would say) but I do not want our troops fighting with Russians.
          In fact, our leaders and our generals have made so many sequential mistakes, I want them to ‘stop all independent war efforts’.
          We are in Syria, we should follow what Assad wants us to do.

          • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

            You will always have bad leaders and stupid people making unwise decisions. Trump abdicated the policy to the Military and has realized hi style of management doesn’t work in the political world. The man is just not able to be a leader much like Obama more to divide the populace than anything else. What ever Madman will replace him will be much worse.

  • Jan Tjarks

    With other words, SAA and Daesh are being embroiled in fightings in the north. But if this situation is true, then it means that the Daesh assault already lost momentum. Another stand off position like around T2? Probably. Daesh desperately defending its heartland located alongside the Euphrates, the last real stronghold it really has already is weakened by Deir Ezzor, putting Daesh in a very difficult position.

    If at the same time SAA advances in the key area around Suknha, then this means nothing beside delay. Daesh needs Al-Qaeda (HTS) more than ever. The time for Daesh as a land occupying entity is coming to it’s end nevertheless. No question, HTS will be next, even so it will still be some time until HTS has to face the full power of SAA instead of Deash.

  • Expo Marker

    I always hated when Idlib militants started attacking the SAA at critical moments when ISIS was on the verge of losing large areas. More proof that moderate rebels and ISIS couldn’t live without each other.

    • Jan Tjarks

      According to main stream media, there is a difference between headchoppers and moderate headchoppers.

      • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

        To everyone else they are Headchoppers they can’t spin a Turd into a nicer looking Turd doesn’t work we will still call it what it is.

  • gustavo

    I hope Russia increases A LOT the support to Syria with helicopters with night vision, artillery weapons, air bombing, and misiles dropped on ISIS-Daesh-HST and moderated terrorists. Non dealing with terrorists at all (like Aleppo and other cities). On the other hand, I wish the best, and the best weapon against the suicidal terrorists is the courage and hope for a better situation of Syrian children.

  • R3mba

    I have Idea.. Let them drop few Russian Mother of all bombs (that evaporates everything) In Idlib area.. They are all jihady wanna be anyway..So let them die!