Syrian War Report – January 19, 2018: Syrian Troops Almost Closed Eastern Idlib Pocket

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On January 18, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Iranian-backed militias liberated the village of Qaytal fom Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in southern Aleppo and almost closed the eastern Idlib pocket.

Late on the same day, ISIS reportedly captured thirty villages, including Rasm al-Dhaba, al-Muwaylah, abu Ajwa, Muakar Shamali, Huma, Najm Al-Zuhur, Umm Qurun and Rasm Arira, in northeastern Hama and southwestern Aleppo from Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

According to reports, some of HTS members withdrew from the area to avoid being encircled by the SAA while the rest of them just joined ISIS.

The pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi also reported that ISIS fighters started an advance to reach the SAA-held village Tell Daman in order to open a route towards Idlib province.

The ISIS Hunters of the SAA’s 5th Assault Corps have repelled a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device attack by ISIS in the Euphrates Valley. According to the unit’s media wing, the attack was an attempt to break the blockade imposed by government forces on ISIS units in the Homs desert.

On January 18, two ISIS VBIEDs attacked the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Gharanij in southeastern Deir Ezzor, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq added that ISIS fighters targeted a gathering of SDF fighters and destroyed a Humvee with an ATGM.

According to SOHR, ISIS still controls the villages of Abu Hassan, al-Bubadran, al-Baghuz, al-Susah and al-Shaafah as well as large parts of Hajin, Gharanij and al-Bahra on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to say that Washington has no plans to create a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria and claimed that the issue has been “misportrayed”. “We are not creating a border security force at all,” he said.

However, just few days ago, the Pentagon officially announced the creation of this border force.

“The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000,” spokesman for the US-led coalition Colonel Thomas F. Veale said. “The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS draw to a close.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan met in Moscow with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and other officials for talks on Syria.

It does not look like Ankara is ready to see the US as a reliable partner in this conflict.

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  • telemetrie

    lol remind me is it 3rd or 4th day SAA can’t cut 2km strip of land ?

    • Eskandar Black

      Seems to me SAA is doing just fine, all the FSA ISIS losers dying in troves though!

      • telemetrie

        well, I hope SAA will close this pocket ASAP because there are not any strong points or big villages or obstacles justyfying delays.
        Once ISIS is not able to transport notable amount of manpower and supplies to the east IDLIB area the nasty ISIS counterattacks are history..
        Just 2 km remaining or so. Gogogogo SAA

        • Eskandar Black

          I am sure everything is under control, dont stress so much could cause testicular torsion.

    • Eskandar Black

      Wonna see my poem? Roses are Red, Violets are blue, ISIS will soon be dead, and FSA will die too.

    • Tudor Miron

      Why don’t you go there and show them how it is done?

      • Potato Potato

        This. Try fighting crazed terrorists high on captagon while severely restricted by poor logistics and supply, plus little to no training yourself before being an online field marshal. I am sure the SAA commanders know FAR better than you.

      • Solomon Krupacek

        show something for fools? this is a role for ruskie fools.

  • gustavo

    Syria is doing to slow to close completely this pocket, bad tacking trying to allow terrorists to go out.

    • Daisy

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  • FSW
  • Keith Smith

    Turkey started shelling kurds yesterday i think?said it was because US had openly admitted to wanting the creation of a hostile army at Turkish borders

    • Ronald

      US openly admitted to the creation of a hostile NATION , “Kurdistan” , ( and its” border force”) , that wants a third of Iraq , Iran , Turkey and Syria .
      Likely more than Turkey is upset .