Syrian War Report – February 13, 2017: Al-Qaeda Advances In Daraa As Govt Forces Prevail On ISIS Near Al-Bab

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Turkish President Recep Erdogan claimed on Sunday that the Turkish intervention in Syria, dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield, will be continued until Turkish forces liberate the ISIS self-proclaimed capital of Raqqah. Erdogan also confirmed that the Turkish army directly participates in clashes against ISIS in al-Bab along with the so-called “Free Syrian Army”, a coalition of pro-Turkish militant groups operating in northern Syria.

In al-Bab, the Turkish army and the FSA seized the northern and southern entrances into the town. Despite the attack of Turkish forces Qabasin remains under the ISIS control and Bzaah is contested.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Ankara and Damascus had agreed on a demarcation line in the area. So, the Syrian army will not enter al-Bab after the liberation of Tadif near its southern gates. However, government forces still need to secure the area.

Meanwhile, government forces renewed a push against ISIS, recapturing Mansourah and Khirbat Jahish. The goal of the operation is to expand a buffer zone along roads heading to al-Bab. Strategically this could be aimed on flanking Deir Hafer from the north.

Last weekend, the Syrian army repelled an assault of the joint forces of the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the provincial capital of the Daraa province. Some elements of Tahrir al-Sham terrorist coalition, led by Fatah al-Sham, had also participated in the advance.

Militants attacked government positions in the Manshiyah neighborhood early on February 12, but suffered heavy casualties and were pushed to retreat by noon. Pro-government sources report that up to 40 members of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and the FSA’s Southern Front were killed in clashes.

This was the biggest escalation in the area in the recent months. The militants had used suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and a tunnel bomb during their assault.

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  • Aleks Black

    It would be interesting if the SDF could capture the tabqa damn and associated military airbase. They could secure the airport and totally paralyze ISIS supply lines in western Raqqa. The second tactical option I look forward to seeing is a second SAA front to attack ISIS positions south of the Lake Jabbul towards Maskanah. This advance is necessary because ISIS will counter attack the Aleppo highway whether the regime opens a front there or not. The longer ISIS holds Palmyra, the less overall ISIS fighter will be alive. Palmyra is an indefensible death trap. The best thing Assad can hope for is that the terrorists try to defend it. Regarding Deir ez Zor, it is on the SDF to cut off the highway to Raqqa. As long as the bearded fanatics can get in their car and drive between Raqqa and Deir ez zor, the defenders are going to face well equipped and high numbers ISIS reinforcements. An SDF surprise attack across the Lake Assad to cut off Maskanah is also an attractive option. With coordination with the Russians and US, a substantial contingent of SDF could be helicoptered over Lake Assad and used in a surprised mega raid to cut off the highway to Raqqa. A substantial ISIS force risks being trapped in Al Bab

  • Tim Hadfield

    How is it that ISIS can still fight so strongly?
    Who is supplying them, and where are all the needed new recruits coming from?
    Can their supply lines not be cut? Or their convoys bombed to hell?

    • EmilyEnso

      I think a lot of us would like to see the answers to those pertinent questions.
      We won’t get them.

    • Ronald

      Did you see the pay rate for “rebels” to fight for the US and Saudis in Yemen , that’s against an army that is starving to death . $1500.00/day ! These ISIS guys are cheap , maybe one or two hundred a day , because they are “believers” . Belief is their motivational factor , the US/UK and Saudis use these warriors of God, as they are cheap . Hate to tell you , but our western governments are supplying them , not officially of course , its all done Air America , quietly and out of sight . The Iraqi government has caught them in the act of resupply , but can do nothing. The year before Russia stepped into help Syria , the USAF made one hundred weapon and supply drops in ISIS territory “in error” , in Syria alone .
      Was hoping Trump might make a difference , but he’s probably going to be lucky to stay alive . Brennan of the CIA , even if dismissed is still very powerful , and as a converted Wahhabi , a believer , he is extra dangerous .

  • Bob

    Erdogan is variously claiming he will be part of US plans, SAA plans and Russian plans for north Syria – he is desperately trying to claim a seat at table for Syrian peace resolution, whether anyone wants him there or not. He has staked a lot domestically on his Syrian policies – as they fail he is forced to keep shifting goals and declare new positions – but it’s getting ridiculous, still, eventually Turkish public may just end up so confused they’ll have forgotten earlier policies…