Syrian War Report – December 12, 2016: Mistakes That Led To Fall Of Palmyra

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ISIS terrorists seized the ancient city of Palmyra from Syrian government forces. The terrorist group also took control of Biyarat, Dawah and Hayyan oil facility west of Palmyra after a series of clashes with the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF). Terrorists also attacked the Qadri farms and shelled government forces in the outskirts of the Tayfor Airbase. Heavy clashes were also at the Tiyas village near the Tayfor Airbase, but the Syrian army repelled ISIS attacks there.

ISIS was able to achieve all these gains despite massive airstrikes by the Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces. Only Russian warplanes and helicopters have delivered over 150 airstrikes on ISIS terrorists near Palmyra since Saturday. On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that eleven battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, 31 cars with heavy machineguns, and over 300 militants were destroyed.

Government forces are now regrouping and deploying reinforcements in the area west of Palmyra and conducting a pre-emptive shelling of ISIS units before the counter-attack.

ISIS has a 4,000-strong attack force in the area and is readying to continue the advance. In Palmyra it has seized a high number of military equipment from government forces and Russian military advisers.

The breakthrough and rapid advancement of the ISIS took place due to fundamental mistakes of commanders of units of the Syrian Army and the NDF, deployed in the Palmyra area, who just let their guard down. They did not pay due attention to fortification activities, processes of equipping positions with engineering and combat hardware, as well as were carelessness during tactical reconnaissance and assessment of the forces and means of attackers. As a result, commanders did not report the all necessary information to the higher command in Damascus on time, thereby, deluding it. However, this fact does not remove the responsibility from the central command and the Russian assist and advise mission.

There are several reasons, which explain the emergence of so many mistakes at one and the same time:

  • Wrong informing from outlying areas;
  • Negligence in reconnaissance;
  • Focusing of the attention on the military operation in the city of Aleppo;
  • Unexpected redeployment of new ISIS units from Iraq to Syria, as well as involvement of the most experienced ISIS commanders of the senior and middle levels in the offensive;
  • Unexpected large number of suicide bombers, involved in the operation.

Meanwhile, clashes continued in the city of Aleppo where government forces renewed the military operation amid the collapsing ceasefire efforts by Russia. The army its allies liberated Al-Asilah, Ma`adi and Bab al Maqam. Heavy clashes also took place in Sheikh Saeed. However, December 12 morning, government forces were in the control of the area.

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  • Takumi Fujiwara

    its all so russia fault seems to me that russians arent so much of help in syria

    • Barry

      A Syrian reporter claims that Russians at checkpoints were constantly drunk and IS was able to infiltrate city and then attack checkpoints they knew were weak.

    • Brad Isherwood

      The Putin of Save South Ossetia needs to show up.
      Russian Hardliners need to lock the room door and get Vladimir squared away.
      The Donbass is getting pummeled by Kiev….the Minsk agreements are for @!

      • Gabriel Hollows

        They aren’t being ‘pummeled’. Every Kiev attack has been sucessfully repelled.

        • Brad Isherwood

          Your getting pummeled when arty from miles away is your day and night experience in the Donbass.
          When Kiev has penetrated into the Donbass. …they get their asses kicked.
          So….Kiev artys and rockets them while Observers smile

    • 888mladen .

      When has it been of help to anyone? Can you remember? Iraq, Bosnia, Serbia, Libya, Yemen, Donbas.

  • Derapage

    T4 airbase is fell and ISIS will advance up to Homs. SAA will not have time to deploy forces from Aleppo. Special thanks to USA coalition: they know where ISIS is fighting today but strangely is not flying a their airplane.

    • 888mladen .

      I don’t find anything strange with it. Do you still believe that the coalition is there to destroy ISIS?

  • Gabriel Hollows

    >unexpected redeployment of new ISIS units

    You can’t be serious.

    • Ole Johansen

      I agree.. Its been a issue for like a month

      • Gabriel Hollows

        Two months actually, and it was no secret either. Even RT reported it!

  • Barry

    This is like Battle of the Bulge, Tet Offensive and Yom Kippur War where forces thought the battles and war was being won (or forces were too weak to attack, for Yom Kippur) and ignored obvious signs of trouble. Astounding.

  • Ole Johansen

    This thing smells fishy. How can one “forget” about the rest of the war, neglect the fact that ISIS terrorists came out of Mosul in large groups and that also the US has deployed more soldiers in Syria.I am not even sure if they are to be called soldiers anymore, but terrorist them US dudes as well.

    This is a serious blow to the Russian credibility as one would expect there to be:

    1) Sophisticated satellite surveillance monitoring whatever moves

    2) Sophisticated surveillance airplanes that monitors the overall battlefields

    3) Sophisticated aircraft’s in the air and drones looking for the expected ISIS coming from Mosul

    4) Sophisticated gear that is new and from Russia to counter such attach having the entire airspace alone.

    Please bring back my day tomorrow

  • Dear friends, SouthFront suggests all our readers to provide their thoughts and analyses about the situation near Palmyra and the possible course of future events under this comment. In turn, SouthFront Team will use the best of them in posts and maybe even in videos with refers to their authors.
    Sincerely yours,
    SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence

    • 888mladen .

      I would elect comments of Brad Isherwood. He has shown the most profound understanding of the nature of the conflict in the Middle East which is pretty much free from wishful thinking and unwarranted expectations.

  • Nuno Cardoso da Silva

    Some people got definitely sloppy. Apparently the Syrian and Russian High Commands thought Palmyra was safe and let second rate troops defending it. Intelligence on ISIS moves was definitely inadequate. Let’s hope this disaster will serve to wake up the military command, and that the needed assets will be brought to Pamyra to contain the ISIS advance and then to push it back. In a desert region the terrorists have little place to hide, so it shouldn’t be too hard to detect where they are. A proper use of the air force – with cluster bombs – and of artillery and missiles should reduce the power of the attacking forces to a point when overrunning them should be possible. So, let’s finish quickly the take over of Aleppo and direct the necessary assets to Pamyra.

  • paul

    When ISIS attacked Mosul the received wisdom was that the Iraqi army fled
    without offering much resistance. I don’t know if this is true but it
    is surely plausible. I only have SouthFront’s reports from which to
    make a judgment, but the indication is that something similar
    happened here. A lot of equipment seems to have been abandoned and
    will no doubt be put into service by ISIS. I don’t intend to be
    critical as it is not my life that was threatened.

    I think the situation will be reversed in time. May be even quite soon.
    I do, however, hope lessons will be learned . I am not completely
    hopeful as others may recall that something similar happened shortly after Palmyra was
    first recaptured when the SAA tried to advance further and was forced
    to make a hasty retreat.

  • Jardi1

    I agree this assessment, the problem has been lack of strategic alertness which is not low level command chain problem, but the central government is the main responsible for this lack of strategic alertness, when SAA makes gains the is what call “killer relaxation” where the level of alertness and military preparedness is relaxed unnecessarily, also Russia is not as alert as you may expect. it was clear ISIS will seek to compensate its losses in Iraq and attack Syrian softbelly region of Der Zor and Palmyra region but there was enough preparation to forestall this predictable offensive.

    • Brad Isherwood

      It’s probable the US had drones overhead putting guided missiles into key Syrian defence
      Positions .
      With real time sat coverage. …Takfiri can hit exactly where SAA is buckling. ..and then surge
      Into Palmyra for free tanks and other booty.
      Hopefully some Syrian soldiers slashed the wiring in those tanks so that ISIL can’t just drive off now.

      • 888mladen .

        That’s for sure. US fingerprints can be seen all over it.

        • Brad Isherwood

          Can only guess how many Mercs UAE,Saudi and other nations sent into Syria.
          Yes…they lost several cities now,…but have the hinterland with Der Ezzor isolated like Rorkes Drift vs the Zulu’s.
          The US Airbases and bases in NE Syria Now.
          SAS roaming Der Ezzor to Jordan.

          I thought Russia would ramp up operations and push Empire off Syria.
          Empire has foothold now in Syria with endless supply of Trained Mercs to throw in.
          Syria is already soft partition…
          It’s up in the air what future Syria will look like area wise..

          Putin cut deal with Erdogan. ..
          Then cut deal with Saudi over oil.
          Yet both above attack Syria and stuff in 1000s of armed soldiers.

          The math not looking good for poor Syria…

          • 888mladen .

            Could not have agreed more with you.

  • Brad Isherwood

    Dial 1 800 the Aircraft Carrier is useless door stop!
    Syria needed mobile forces And more Attack Helicopters.
    Many months ago coment was made that Russian Airborne could go in against surge
    Areas such as Der Ezzor as blocking action.
    It’s the cost of the above vs the showy operations cost of the Carrier battlegroup doing circles
    In the Med.
    Empires got bases and Airbases now in Syria. ..
    No excuse that Kalibr or cruise missile cannot smack that.

    If Syria gets partition and pipeline Istan now….it’s because Vladimir blinked and the Russian
    Hardliners went to Cuba for the winter.

    • Percival

      Iran has sent no regular forces to Syria. Surely, they could send 10,000 troops to shore up certain areas.They have the most to lose if Assad falls or Syria is partitioned.

      • Brad Isherwood

        We have both shared these points weeks/months ago
        I’d wager Russian military/Hardliners warned Putin the soft pillow talk
        Format was going to become embarrassment,
        As it surely has.
        Iran….Empire humiliates them and they grovel for Boeing Jet contracts.
        All while getting new sanctions and new humiliations.
        I think Iran’s Mullahs are for @t !

        • Percival

          Putin should have gone “all in” in the beginning and never let up. The “on again, off again” approach has allowed for this current situation to occur. Russia will never get accolades from the MSM or a pat on the back. When Putin went in, he had to have fully realized the ramifications or been naive.

          The only explanation is that Putin just wanted to keep Assad in power and liberate most of Western Syria along the coast. He doesn’t want to liberate the whole country. Think about it; Russia is really spending a lot on this campaign while in the midst of the sanctions and low oil prices.

          If Trump’s administration can repeal the sanctions and target ISIS in coordination with Russia, things can turn around. Right now, Obama’s politicized intelligence agencies are trying to de legitimize Trump before he is even sworn in. The propaganda coming out now is ridiculous.

          • 888mladen .

            Putin has no interest in Iranian’s gas reaching EU markets period. The Eastern Sunistan will do everything for his oligarch puppet masters.

        • J. Walker

          This Iranian-Boeing deal is a shocker! You’d think after years of humiliating sanctions and assassinations the Iranians would now better than to jump right back in bed with these people! What a disappointment.

          • Brad Isherwood

            Just before Gulf War 1,….we were building FRAC modules for Iran.
            Iran kept changing the contract and disrupting the build timeline.
            The Gulf War broke out….a ban on shipping in the Gulf motioned Iran’s contract was
            Flushed.
            Their FRAC module buildings which are portable. .sat 80% finished in the shop south 40 yard for years .
            I went on to another shop contract…noticing the Modules sit there for years before eventually some other nation bought them.
            They are to enhance extraction with slant drilling.
            So…Iran screwed themselves……and they are like this in business. …just @’s

  • Percival

    Why should Russia sacrifice airborne troops? The Russian public doesn’t want this and might turn against Putin if he puts in ground forces and troops start coming home in body bags. They are spending billions on airstrikes. Time for Iran to deploy some troops.

    • Brad Isherwood

      Only ones with capable mobile forces.
      I think Iran’s military is confused make up artist
      Their military action history in Iraq is wanting for tactical and logistics.
      I’m not sure why Israel freaks out over Iran….

      • Percival

        They don’t have to be elite units. Just good enough to plug some holes and defend outposts from ISIS while SAA, Hez, and the militias take on the terrorists in Idlib and Latakia. I don’t know about the fate of N. Syria, though. The Turks and NATO proxies are establishing bases and everything….Unless there is an infusion of new troops from Russia or Iran, I don’t see how there is a way to stop partition unless they hold out and Trump and Putin can strike a deal.

        Same as Saddam. ANY stable country in the region with conventional forces is a threat to their hegemony.

      • 888mladen .

        Not that far from the truth of it.

    • sólyomszem

      if iran send troops, the next day is total war with israel.

      • Brad Isherwood

        Iran’s Mullahs are for @ trash ….who have huge offshore bank accounts.
        No different than Netanyahu….both are just criminals of a sort.
        This is All our** tragic reality of today.
        Most nations are ruled by criminals and their public are Banker chattel.

        Trump was Casino racket. …the Casino history of USA…. launder money for the Mob.
        Clinton’s were crime family.
        Money talks. ..
        And by the way. … Saudi oilfields have Shia Muslims …working for the Saudi.
        Shia are just @t liars if you take the money and then say Allah be praised .
        I spent 2 decades + build oil/nat gas process…which is all over the world. .
        From Australia outback. ..to North Slope Alaska. ..and yes…the Mid east.

        The reeking lie of money and contracts while the Mosque dumps crazed Jihadi onto the streets,
        While Zurich bankers light cigars and have Brandy by the boardroom fireplace.

        • 888mladen .

          Many of them are intimately connected with Moslem Brotherhood as well like Ruhani and Rasfanjani. Rasfanjani is one of the richest persons in Iran. He was the key person behind staged demonstrations during the election when Almadinejad got his second term in office. Do you remember when M Morsi was ousted by Sisi how Iranian government reacted? According to some sources Rasfanjani saved Ayman al-Zawahiri the head of Al Qaeda from being apprehended by IRGC and sent to US.

          • Brad Isherwood

            MB has its roots going back to before WW 2 with Nazi and then MI6 Pass them off to
            CIA who network again with Saudi.
            This new AL qeada /ISIS thing seems to have a real… Street level. ..The Last Jihadi*
            Type thing going for it…..IE. ..get on the flying carpet for last Final Jihad.
            Add Captigon and shake well.
            A Stan is tumbling out of control. …even the Taliban having problems cope with the
            Crazy.
            As you noted with Iran…they have the Criminal thing going on with their Mullahs.
            The competing internal power groups. …
            Not sure about their version of Pakistan ISI….which is Snake like Turk Military
            Intelligence.
            Egypt has recently stepped away from Saudi and the GCC..
            Possibly there is a real Chicago 1920s turf war going on in the entire ME as all
            These Gangster groups menace guns and knives on each other.
            So ya…pipeline routes are in play. …yet several groups could flip 180 on the former deal and go over to another side.
            One wonders how things go if Erdogan suddenly disappeared from the landscape.

      • Percival

        If they don’t, sooner or later, they will be bombed, invaded or regime changed. If “Sunnistan” is created in E. Syria, it will become a de facto Salafist terror haven. They will launch attacks on Shia shrines and mosques in S. Iraq and even Iran. They will create major instability. When Iran fights back, the “international community” will claim that the Iranians are committing atrocities and humans rights abuses. There will be sanctions or penalties. Iran will become angered and fight back. Then Israel will say that Iran is becoming too bellicose and threatening to “peace” in the region. Or, they will use the Yemen conflict to draw Iran into a confrontation. They may even try a color revolution.

        So, you see, war is coming against Iran, unless Trump can get them to back off the extreme anti Israel rhetoric and cool down a bit. If they help Assad win, they have a buffer against SA and Israel. If Assad only controls an Alawite/Shia coastal strip of Syria, then they are in trouble.

        • 888mladen .

          “If Assad only controls an Alawite/Shia coastal strip of Syria, then they are in trouble” exactly since they will never be able to stretch
          a gas pipeline to Mediterranean sea and export it to EU market.

        • 888mladen .

          The same applies to RU. It is always more expedient to fight a war on enemies territory. That’s what US has been doing ever since. There is no war without body bags.

      • 888mladen .

        Sorry where did you get that? And remember IDF was defeated in 2008 by Hezbollah using mainly Russian ATGMs. And what’s Hezbollah compared to the size of Iranian army and its firepower? Not doing something because something else might happen is not a good reason for not doing it. You have to give careful consideration to weighing of cost and benefit of the planed action.

        • sólyomszem

          you are naiv! iran has rotten army. hezbollah won 1 battle, that is all. if israel would have problems, america enters.

          • 888mladen .

            What would they enter with? F-35s or littoral battle ships?

          • Jens Holm

            You forget Nato is one for all and all for one. The closest base for that is the british one at cyprus, which also are member of EU.

            The big diffrence is the change in the US foreing policy by Obama. They are not there, because they have chosen to.

            Littoral battleships compared to the russian floating museum.

            Im also sure US could call in all drones from all over the world, and they would not be as nice as they are today.

            Think You underestimate US/Nato as well as what kind of war Russia can effort. Look to me more and more Russians make ceasfires every time, they have no more bombs produced.

          • sólyomszem

            ask saddam

          • 888mladen .

            You may say whatever you want but Iran is no Libya.

          • sólyomszem

            iran is like iraq

        • Brad Isherwood

          There’s a David Duke article on 2006 Israel war with Hezbollah.
          The article conveys the scope of collateral damage done to Lebanon under the excuse of security for the State of Israel.
          It was a micro manage mini genocide action…with Israeli media and Wiki curbing the numbers so it came off Kosher.
          Since then….IAF roam over the Lebanon and nobody gives a RIP. ..The UN is some
          Whole’y owned Subsidiary of Israel and US deep state.
          Every now and then…these panic threads appear implying Israel just used Nuke on Syria.
          From …did they use Micro nukes to bring down the Twin Towers….to possible use
          Of new Gen mini boosted nukes in Middle East,
          I’m not going to be surprised they did use them in the past and will again.
          As…Israhell has shown the will/malice to just pummel anyone in a cage.

  • Daniel Martin

    One of the most basic rules of war, is that you fight the enemy until he is either defeated, dead or surrenders. To brake the momentum while you have the advantage, is often something that will bite you back in the azz, at some later point in the war.

  • Pave Way IV

    The forces that attacked Palmyra are not necessarily ISIS – even though everyone automatically assumes so. The U.S. and GCC are sending mercs to command and fill in because ISIS is incompetent and falling apart. ISIS is useful for insane VBIED drivers, but that’s about it. The UAE training bases in Eritria can supply all the mercs needed in south Syria. There are probably plenty of ISIS involved in this operation, but it is anything but an organic, 100% ISIS op.

    Regardless of the actual troops being used, this was a significant military operation requiring a lot of planning and intelligence. The U.S. and GCC had drones over Palmyra gathering intelligence and relayed that real-time to their head-choppers on the ground. There is no way ISIS – by itself – could have possibly organized a well-coordinated operation of this scale using their own intelligence and their own command and control. This was a U.S./GCC operation, period. The bullet-stoppers and suicide bombers were ISIS. The rest? Who knows, but probably not ISIS.

    Personally, I doubt it was a surprise at all to the troops holding Palmyra. This was probably a threat made good when Russia didn’t cave to U.S. demands to let all their head-choppers trapped in Aleppo go. Rather than be diverted from the final crushing blow to Aleppo, the Russians and Syrians probably told the U.S. to piss off. So the Russians and Syrians concentrated on Aleppo (as they should have) and the U.S. and GCC cronies mounted the supposed ‘ISIS’ attack on Palmyra.

    The goal of attacking Palmyra was not the city itself. The nearby gas fields still operating and gas pipeline infrastructure that converges at (near) Palmyra was the objective. This gas is the primary supply to the population centers of Syria’s east, especially Homs and Damascus. Electricity for the east is generated from natural gas-fired power plants, so disruption of gas supplies threatens the power grid. Gas demand is also rising because of the cold winter weather in Syria. All this makes the Palmyra gas hub a desirable strategic target (if your target is to punish Syrian civilians for supporting Assad).

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Czd7xukVQAAkFcx.jpg

    For the Syrians and Russians, the loss of Palmyra’s gas infrastructure was a risk they were willing to take. Note that this is a completely different problem than defending Palmyra city. Defending Palmyra’s gas infrastructure (several hundreds of square kilometers and many points of vulnerability) would have taken thousands of troops, and all that for an attack that may have never come. The U.S./GCC objectives would have been 1) negotiating leverage in Aleppo, and 2) thinning out Syrian forces in Homs and possibly Aleppo to prolong those battles.

    My guess for what happens next isn’t the retaking of Palmyra and gas infrastructure/fields. That is a given. What I fear will happen is that the U.S./GCC are sabotaging/destroying as much of the pipelines, pumping stations and gas drying (‘refining’) equipment as possible right now to deny Syria’s population centers of as much gas as possible this winter. The equipment can be replaced or repaired, but at great cost and several months or more of time. I have no inside sources or special knowledge that they are doing this. I’m just projecting the continuous pattern of psychopathic behavior of my country (the U.S.) has when they are losing: they want as much Syrian infrastructure destroyed as possible to ensure more resource depletion and weakness in their ‘enemy’ (= the people of Syria and their government).

    Syrian forces will retake Palmyra at some cost, but there will be no more natural gas flowing to the east when that happens. The fake ISIS will scatter back to Raqqa and Deir EzZor until the U.S./GCC cooks up more schemes to make their head-chopper Sunnistan a reality.

    • Brad Isherwood

      And we’re there US Predator drones and other putting Guided Muni’s into the rattled
      SAA positions?
      That and real time com to movement could drive on buckling SAA positions
      And Tada! …you got free tanks ….and food in the kitchen!
      If the Syrian soldiers operating those tanks did not slash the wiring in the very least,
      They should not be allowed into a uniform or tank again.

      At this point….after so much cost and blood,
      If Pipelineistan occurs,
      It would have been merciful and 50,000 less deaths had Putin taken the free Naval
      Annex deal and Assad must go

  • 888mladen .

    There is no Court Marshal and everything seems to be based on voluntary actions. NDF is an Achilles heel of the Syrian army. They trade arms with terrorists, exhort money from local population and so on and on. They are mainly made up of local Arab population too. Their only motive for taking part in the fight seems to be a small financial gain. Basically they are opportunists looking how to take the advantage of the conflict. On the other side ISIS has been well trained and strongly ideologically motivated to fight and also well disciplined. There is no absence of the court marshal either. Serious mistakes are payed for without any mercy shown to the culprits.

  • Bjarne Örn Hansen

    While I agree that “vlad” always and continuously does the mistake of “pillow” talk. Knowing fully, that it’s a waste of time, money, effort and it’s gonna get them killed in the end.

    I can’t imagine “vlad” having forgotten about the group coming out of Mosul … there is no “gain” in Palmyra for ISIS… attacking is a mistake on their behalf. Nobody cares about a bunch of old rocks … least of all, the Russians. ISIS are “spreading” themselves … and as such … thin. very thin.

  • FreeWillSyrian

    the answer is very simple , the complete lack of any kind of reconnaissance which Syrian military is used to repeat these mistakes again and again , the units in Palmyra were not considering the seriousness of the location despite the movement of ISIS for a months & months, u can describe this attack any thing you like but a “surprising ” .

  • Temístocles Delgado

    La responsabilidad principal de la retomada de Palmira por los terroristas es del comando central de las fuerzas armadas sirias con su presidente a la cabeza. Se está en una situación de guerra contra enemigos muy poderosos pues es ee.uu. el que está interesado en tomar control de Siria a través de los terroristas y las ideas de control y vigilancia no han fluído en el cérebro de los responsables. Los acontecimientos también indican que los sistemas de monitoramiento por parte de las fuerzas aeroespaciales rusas es bastante reducido, esto debido a que grandes contingentes armados se han mobilizado y no han sido detectados y detenidos en el camino que era lo ideal. Ahora, el costo humano es y será mucho más grande.

  • Bezukhov

    Is there no one with the military genius of an Emperor Aurelian to be found?

  • Kire Stojanovski

    Unfortunately, the liberation of Aleppo is late for a few days. I don’t want to accuse anyone, everyone makes mistakes (including me too, so I’m not in position to accuse anyone for anything, only myself, especially having in sight that I have never witnessed a war), but if there was some ceasefire less, maybe it would have been liberated on time. This way thousands of Syria’s most elite troops have been with tied hands, unable to help in driving back the offensive of ISIS on Palmyra. It is a high price for the many made mistakes, but with the liberation of Aleppo (which is almost finished already, as I can see on the map only one last district of Aleppo has presence of terrorist) I believe the things are going to start moving in the good direction. And I believe liberating Palmyra again, with God’s help, won’t be a very difficult task. But I would prefer liberating the oil fields north of Palmyra and linking with SAA positions in Ithriyah, instead of liberating of Palmyra itself. The troops in Palmyra would be too much exposed on attacks (as they also were before) and if the mountains (and oil fields) north (or at least north-west) of the city are liberated before, it would be much easier to defend it. And if you imagine a frontline from Ithriyah straight south to Palmyra, it would also be at least two times shorter, and again twice easier to defend, and plus, it would be a great relief for the Aleppo supply line, creating a large buffer zone south of it. Let’s try and hope not to repeat the mistakes again, and pray God for help, He is the only faultless and only He can make the things perfect.

  • Jens Holm

    I see the arabic(some others do the same) way here again. Its wrong that those forces are that depended by orders from Damaskus and are not allowed or has not learned to take care of themselves where they are.

    Too less education in understanding whats going on and can happen. Its obvios troops there being attacked many times the last weeks as well, should pr reflex secure all m2 as hard as they can being learned to do it

    And again we see people trust tanks more than Allah and sleep better than with the best pillows. But tanks are worth nothing without determinant infantery support exept as they sometimes are used as normal artillery behind the defence lines.

    I really dont get SAA after years of experience still are that stupid in welknown formations of troops.

  • Spunkyhunk

    The “humanitarian ceasefires” and the trying to play to the sympathies of the Western “mainstream media” peanut gallery on the part of the Russian government have got to STOP.

    It’s as simple as that.

  • Diego Castellanos

    Putin’s propaganda ops are useless to win the Syrian war. A battle fleet that only serves to show the flag, super 4.5 jets that can not throw a simple bomb and cruise missiles so expensive that you can only launch a pair every year. That is of no use. In Syria are needed HUNDREDS of fighter-bombers such as the Su-25, attack helicopters such as Mi-24 and Ka-52, artillery, tanks and especially soldiers. Thousands of them, not peasants brought from anywhere.

  • Marek Pejović

    POTENTIALLY IMPORTANT:
    These mistakes seem to indicate to a larger, fundamental problem sadly present in many arab armed forces (as described in one online article); too rigid, hierarchic, and non-responsive military culture in which all initiative comes from above (aside of a few crack units with prominent commanders such as Tiger forces). Asking for permission for every action and doing nothing on one’s own initiative seems still widespread in the current military culture, and was undoubtedly adopted to – in peacetime – prevent coups. But, this is the very probable reason that the local commanders let their guard down; simply because there was lack of any intel from Damascus on what to do they thought nothing was coming until it was too late. And Damascus high command was at the time preoccupied with Aleppo. And as orders probably stopped at the time of taking of Palmyra (and at the time ISIS was thought to have been on the run) there was no explicit order to dig in properly.
    I think the biggest take away lesson would be to allow/retrain the local and middle level commanders to take initiative and watch their sector regardless what’s going on in other sectors. ISIS does this to great success.

  • Marek Pejović

    Especially disappointing:
    1. there is – still – the complete lack of dealing with suicide bombers! if it’s an ISIS assault, you can be sure of one thing: there ARE going to be suicide bombers
    2. that there is no knowledge of the obvious fact that more often than not, the success of suicide bombers delivering their ordnance is what determines the success of the assault.

    This obviously makes imperative to prevent VBIEDs by all costs!

    In view of this, it’s beyond me how professional military personel is seemingly incapable to articulate the need for more presence of anti-VBIED teams, be it on platoon level, or in form of specialized, mobile anti-VBIED teams (multiple MANPADS or other means to dispatch VBIEDs) which would man outposts or places likely to come under attack…
    This is beyond me.

  • octavian61

    Blame the Syrians. Blame the Russians. I blame the tides of war. ISIS is still alive and being well funded. They state 4,000 have regrouped to retake Palmyra. i say closer to 6 or 7,000. But don’t worry. Palmyra will be retaken by the Syrians. And ISIS will pay a heavy price.

  • octavian61

    Blame the Syrians. Blame the Russians. I blame the tides of war. War is never an exact business. You may shout victory for one occasion, and retreat from a disaster in the blink of an eye. ISIS still has some drive to them. They still are regrouping and still can cause some problems. But I feel that Palmyra will fall back into Syrian hands, and ISIS will pay a heavy price.

  • Asil

    I am following the discussion and have the impression that everybody seek to blame someone. That was also the case when rebels broke the allepo siege. I dont think SAA made any mistake. Fisrt of all this is not a MODERN warfare what we are seeing in syria. All beligerent groups are short on someting. some do not have manpower some do not have support units etc. If one of the 3 major groups focuses its main forces for an assault, they initially make progress. this is normal. The common believe that attacker must have 3-1 advantage is very symbolical. It doesnt fit for all real combat situations. Fighting in open fields like palmyra front, the attacker have always advantage even with less manpower. Because they have the flexibility to chose their concentration points and plus they can change those breakthrough points according to their initial succes. Beside SAA is not fit for defence camaigns. We have also seen it during Allepo camaign. So no one to blame here. ISIS concentrated its main forces here and succesfully, which was expected, pushed the line back. I dont see any conspiracy here. They needed time to gather their forces. This front is quite for some time. From Iraq they brought menpower and attacked when tehy are ready. Critisizing SAA or russian advisers is easy. Honestly think about what you could do instead of them? Bring forces from aleppo? From damascus? or darra? What are the options of SAA? I see none. Noe SAA will gather some forces, SAAF and RuAF will coordinate a campaign and they will push ISIS back. This goes always like that. Air power and artillery are not primarily defensive weapons. Best used for planned agressive campaigns. And those factors (air-artillery) are SAAs sole advantages. That means SAA cant defend.

  • Balázs Jávorszky

    With all respect to Southfront, this analysis for the failure is quite a failure. For whatever they blame the Syrian command they can equally blame (or more!) the Russian command as well.

    1. Recon: Apart from some forms of human intelligence (ie. agents), the Syrians have inferior means, and the ISIS invasion got the Russians completely off guard _too_. So if the Syrian command failed in recon, the Russians’ failure was epic.

    2. At least one source claims that the US managed to disable the SAA radio communications in Palmyra. Actually this had been done in the past, at least during one offensive of the rebels around Damascus was possible (with temprary gains) in 2013 because the israelis disabled the SAA’s communications, so this claim may well be true. But I’m pretty sure the Russian communications weren’t disabled this time, and there were Russian troops there in adviser and trainer role. And actually the Russians should’ve supplied the Syrians at least some reliable mode of communications, ‘cos this scenario will repeat itself again and again.

    3. Regarding fortifications and mining etc.: first of all there were Russians there. We don’t know much about their role but they were supposed to be advisers, trainers, so if mining and fortifications etc. was inferior, at least partly it was them to blame. But more importantly the Syrians _repelled_ the first major wave when they got proper air support, so their defense wasn’t that bad. They only left, when they met a force 4 times theirs (at least according to the early reports).

    4. The equipment they left behid doesn’t look excessive but I cannot on earth understand why the Russians haven’t bombed it already. At least some equipment was in a tight group, a hastily left checkpoint or service station. It should’ve been bombed into smitherens already.

    5. It turned out that the local Russian base has been left almost intact, with ammo + small arms, even credit cards were left behind. Why cannot it be bombed?

  • ATTILA

    The irregular fighter never seeks to meet his opponent head on. He strikes where his opponent is weak. When his opponent attacks/counterattacks in force he flees, consolidates at some distant spot and strikes somewhere else, while his opponent’s attention is diverted. The SAA cannot be strong everywhere. The distances involved are immense and this army is now numerically weak. As they focused on Aleppo, other areas, to include Palmyra, were defended by weak forces dispersed in strings of outposts. That is the irregular fighter’s ideal battlespace. It isn’t difficult to understand why Palmyra fell. The million-dollar question now is whether this ISIS foray is just a raid, an effort to get some oil, OR A BREAK-OUT FROM ENCIRCLEMENT.