Syrian War Report – March 23, 2017: Govt Forces Face Crisis In Northern Hama

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Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), Anjad al-Sham, Jaish al-Nasr, Jaish al-izzah and the Idlib Free Army continued its rapid advance against government forces in northern Hama. The HTS-led forces seized Balhassin, Arzeh, Talat al-Shiha, Khatab, Maardas, Eskandariah and some other points from government troops, mainly local militiamen from the National Defense Forces (NDF). The militants attacked an important government defense site of Qamhanah and deployed close to the Hama Military Airport and the provincial capital.

The Syrian military responded with deploying reinforcements to the area from other fronts. A large number of Tiger Forces members redeployed there from the eastern countryside of Aleppo. These units were mostly fire support groups equipped with Grad BM-21 multiple rocket launcher systems and howitzers. Some units of the 5th Storming Corps were ordered to move to Hama from the Palmyra area. The Lions of the Desert, a special forces unit belonging to the Air Forces Intelligence Service, will also strengthen the government forces in northern Hama.

In eastern Damascus, government forces led by the Republican Guard and backed up by the Syrian Air Force regained the textile factory from HTS-led forces and attacked militants in the area of the electricity station.

In the province of Aleppo, the Tiger Forces, backed up by warplanes, further advanced against ISIS terrorists near the ISIS-held city of Deir Hafer. Government troops captured Um Adsa, Al-Khalilah, Jafr Mansour, Tell Akoulah, al-Qasr and Lalat Muhammad. The Syrian army’s Tiger Forces and its allies cut off the Deir Hafer-Raqqah road and de-facto encircled the ISIS stronghold. Some ISIS units are still able to flee Deir Hafer via the cross-country northeast of the city, but this is a temporary option. ISIS reportedly has about 400 fighters in the area.

As soon as Deir Hafer is liberated, the crossroad town of al-Mahdum and the Jirah Military Airbase will become the high priority targets for government forces in the province. The militant advance aimed at linking up the Qabun pocket with the Eastern Ghouta lost momentum and now they were pushed to go defensive to save at least some of the gained points. According to pro-government sources, 150 militants were killed in clashes.

Major General Mohammad Hassan Sultan, a commander of the second battalion of the recently formed 5th Legion, has been killed in clashes with ISIS near Palmyra in the province of Homs. Government troops have been conducting advances north, south and west of the ancient city, aiming to secure its countryside. The government advance on the ISIS-controlled town of Arak has not resulted in a success yet.

The Free Syrian Army’s Ahmad Abdo Forces, Faylaq al-Rahman and Jaish al-Islam further developed their advance in eastern Qalamoun, capturing Mihassah, Thaniyat al-Yaridah, Thaniyah Wadhath, the nearby crossroad and few hilltops. Thus, the groups deployed close to the important government-held city of al-Qaryatan liberated by government forces from ISIS in 2016. Participation of Jaish al-Islam in this anti-ISIS advance poses a threat that militants could attack government troops in the area. Earlier this week, Jaish al-Islam declared its support to the HTS-led advance in eastern Damascus.

On March 21, the US-led coalition airdropped hundreds of fighters of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to the area west of Tabqa in a shock attack in order to to cut off the Aleppo-Raqqah road and to capture the ISIS-controlled Tabqa Dam, the town of Tabqa and the Tabqa Airbase. According to CENTCOM, the SDF (predominantly the Kurdish People’s Protection Units) plays a key role in the operation. However, the coalition does not deny the presence of US troops in the area. In other words, the US-led coalition’s ground force had spearheaded the operation.

Since the start of the operation, US-led forces have cut off the Aleppo-Raqqah road and seized the villages of Abu Horaira, Hidaj, Krein, al-Jameen and al-Mushayrifah. If the US-led coalition forces are able to capture Tabqa, it will be a major step in isolating the ISIS stronghold of Raqqah. On the other hand, this move will prevent a possibility of government advance on these strategic sites near the Euphrates.

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  • Boris Kazlov

    Such are the results of allowing head-choppers to regroup in Idlib and link to “moderates”, under the guise of peace talks in Astana, Putin check-mated.

    • John Whitehot

      uhahahahaha.

      • Boris Kazlov

        That is all that can come from Yankistan

    • Cycloben

      He who fights everywhere fights nowhere. SAA needs to pick one enemy and just end them, not half-assing on every single front.

      • Peter Magnus

        And there you have the problem, the SAA is stronger than any one enemy, but not much stronger than them all combined. I would guess that the SAA have limited reserves of first line personel, if not an outright lack of them. As such it might be impossible to concentrate all offensive assets on a single front. Because these units also serve as the corset to stiffen the resolve of the rear echelon units comprising most of the front. What we are seeing is not too much different from south vietnam, Syria has some crack units but most of their military is much weaker in both training and more importantly in morale. How to overcome this is a huge issue, but the “Afrika korps” aproach by seeding crack units throughout the line to both steel the resolve and train the weaker units is probably the best long term solution.

        • PZIVJ1943

          Yes: As far as training: I believe Russia has been working on a training course for at least a battalion for every SSA “division”.

        • Gabriel Hollows

          I begin tl susprct Putin is deliberately prolonging this war so that Russian Oligarchs can continue to sell weapons. It’s the only reason for such retardation, ceasefire after ceasefire and letting them rearm and regroup, not allowing Syrians to use S-400 against Israrli warplanes, they’re pretenders just like the Americans.

          • Peter Magnus

            The Russians arnt selling much weapons to Syria, the country is bankrupt and Russia do not exactly have bulging currency reserves. No to mention most if not all Russian arms industry is state owned after a lot of embarrasment in the 90s and early 2000s. I cant see that being a consideration. The truth is a lot more complex, Russia wants to win the propagande war, wich is working and the Syrian government do not have the strength to end the war quickly.

            @bryanburge:disqus

            I belive the Russian “training” is limited to “elite” troops or at least units with a high percentage of alawites. Most of the Syrian forces are paramilitary organization with a reluctance to be deployed away from home and with poor traning and awfull command structure. Most of the Syrian army is unfortunatly gone, it fought a war it was never supposed to, and without the possibility of full mobilization it have simply been worn down. This fact compunds all problems as the “Kitcheners army” currently holding the line is not only incapable of offensive operations but hard to control and redeploy due to the decentrilized manner they were raised to begin with. Leaving only a handful of regular units and elite paramilitaries to due the offensive work.

          • Gary Sellars

            Russia has over 400B of foreign reserves….but they use as just that… a reserve… and they don’t spend it on stupid stuff.

          • Peter Magnus

            Do you know anything about economy at all? The Forreign currency reserves are there to prop up ypur own currency, and allow foreign trade. If you need something not produced in your own country you need to either sell something or use of your reserves. And with the curent oil prices Russia is bleeding money, she need to import a lot of stuff and as she currently isnt selling anything that costs her reserves dearly.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            syria payed for each weapon gave or used by russians.

          • Peter Magnus

            That ist true, Syria do not have currency reserves so all armaments supplied by russia is either direct aid or bought with a Russian state loan. Considering Russias awful economy at the moment this makes for a very short sighted and downright dangerous policy for Russai if Gebriel were to be right, wich he are not.

          • Gary Sellars

            “I begin tl susprct Putin is deliberately prolonging this war so that Russian Oligarchs can continue to sell weapons.”

            Utter BS. Putin wants a geoplitical victory and the increased prestige and influence that it will bring. Weapon sales will follow after the war once the dust settles and nay-sayers all come to terms with how Russia (and Hezb-Allah and Iran) have rescued Syrias chestnuts from teh fire against what looked to be impossible odds.

            If you think Putin is prolonging this war, you clearly know NOTHING about geopolitics.

        • dutchnational

          Assad has a real problem there. It can not really reinforce the SAA, and especially not crack units, as there are deals locally that conscripts can join NDF units that are underequipped, undertrained, underpaid, with low morale and with promises they are to stay local. So, firstly there are hardly crack units, no mobile forces.

          Those that really want to, those can avoid conscription by fleeing. The only ones finding volonteers in large numbers are SDF and to some extent the jihadi rebels. By giving over garrison duties to their conscript army, the SDF is becoming more mobile. End 2017 they will have a mobile force of over 100.000 crack troops, but lacking heavy arms, that can be used everywhere. As those will in principle only be used in northern Syria, they can take the whole of it, with the exception of Aleppo.

        • Solomon Krupacek

          problem is, the saa never finished the work. in latakia stopped. it is big shame, that there are jihadists in latakia.
          in daraa stopped. after fall of sheikh miskin they had a mimentum, and shold tke dael and ibta, after that nawa. they had there soldiers, and the momentum. but stopped.
          if they continues in latakia, they coul take jishr as shugur.
          whwn took terrytory north of aleppo city and weare also 6 km from al bab, thay shold capture all towns in anadan plane. in that time they had al eis, khan tuman. already 1 year ago with taking of 7 towns on anadadan heght could block east aleppo. on the side of jihadist was anly chaos, fleed. but they stopped, the russian removed planes. this was the biggest mistake of the war. this was the turning point. from that time assad had no chance to win.

          and i coukld continue in listing of mistakes in russian and syrian side. putin overcomplicated everything and in end effect he will lose everything. it is fact, that syria will be divided. america will be a hero, becouse despite big words putin was not able to defeat isis, but americans yes, syruia will be split into several parts. and all syrians will hate russians as destroyers of syria. finally russia will b e forced r´to remove as from countries of warsaw pact.

    • VGA

      Newsflash: Assad is winning.

      Get a clue, dude…

    • Gary Sellars

      Stop being fucking stupid. The withdrawal agreements are the only option to prevent large areas of Syrian cities being pounded into rubble and to reduce further loses among government forces. Clear out the rats, send them to Idlib, and redeploy the forces to the remaining fronts. Erase the sacttered pockets of goat-fucker terrorists that are keeping SAA/NDF and allied forces scattered, consolidate the batttlelines.

      Its not that fucking hard to understand. Hama is secure, so let the Wahabbi dog-fondlers use up their manpower and supplies in these futile advances where they gain some ground only to lose momentum and get pushed back. Time and resources are on the side of the government, and the camel-rapers are facing a hard defeat.

      Putin check-mated?…. Fucking idiot.

      • Boris Kazlov

        Russian insistence on talks gets on my nerves.

      • Solomon Krupacek

        but he is check-mated

        • Daniel Castro

          It is a standoff, the west still has the military upper hand, though the “east” managed to get several political vitories to the point western political structures are crumbling, both EU, NATO and USA. The west is deteriorating economically, it is a resistance battle, the east has to endure the military pressure until the western socioeconomic system breaks, but of course it is tremendous pressure and there will be attempts to break the east through coups and 5th column, nothing is predictible, these are times of trouble and it’s normal to get worried, but you can bet russians are doing the best they can to defend their geopolitic position.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            yes, already may father herd these tales about western socioeconomic system break, and nothing happened. this is wet dream of russians but false dream.
            the fact is, russia is alone. has no friends, no allies. iran is not allied, for this goal cooperates with russia, but nothing more. belarussia is cold to russia, in some central asian countires are russian puppets, but if they fall russia lose influence, becouse they are not friends. china is also not friend. china is using russia for own doals but does not allow to enter in the sphere of china.
            the russian politics were all the centuries stupid. they did not understand, that without friends they have no chance to survive. did not understand, that from neighbors is better to do friends then rule them. russia is alone. and this is not americas or jews manipulation. this mistake is russian mistake.
            look at syria. syria is also not friend for russia. if would be, from the beginning would help to this country and wold not be in such terrible situation. if would be friend, would not let pay in advance for the military material either given to syrians or used by russians. if would be friend would not talk russia iran and turkey about aleppo – without syria.
            so is it. russia is weak and with demography will be not stronger. there is no other nation which killed so many own artists, scientists, sportmen as russian. the best of russians already emigrated. until the russian do not understand, that they are the main reason of their problems and will not change they will collapse and not west.

          • Daniel Castro

            Do you think all this is Russia’s fault? You’re mistaken, west do not want allies, they want vassals, there are only two choices for russians, resist and remain sovereign, or submit and get Russia choped into pieces and sold, the people enslaved and entrapped in perpetual wars and chaos like Africa. No, it isn’t Russia’s fault, however I agree we are in a grave situation, and by we I say the entire world, there is no country that isn’t in danger, only people who got to live their lives without risking misery or violent death are the elites. This global imperialism that is around for many centuries and it’s no coincidence it manages to get so many countries under its orbit for it is a corrupt system that target countries elites proping up the 5th column to slowly taking over the countries through a multifront cultural-ideologic-mediatic-legal takeover, and when the country doesn’t submit it is target to violent invasion, mass killings and destruction. Look around you, every country that is a NATO enemy of Russia falls under one of these two categories, the ones which are not under control are under russia’s sphere of influence or being intimidated and threatened by war. This a historic process for which decades are very little time, the decay of the empire is evident, we can see with our own eyes, however it is something that happens very slowly, western Roman empire decay lasted for centuries, but when it fell it was over for good, the same will happen in the west, only problem we wish it would happen faster, but unfortunately history has its own pace for which human life is a very short period.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            yes, this is russias failure. and be sure. lot of western countries hav friennds and allies.

            i live in country, which was former member of warsaw pact. surely can tell you, nato is mor opened and democratic then WP was. the soviet union was al saruman, the only lord within WP. america is strong, but the european countries are fre. remeber, most of them diod not participate in 2nd war in iraq, most of them did not participate in war against libya. such freedom was not imaginable in WP. moscow ttold, no socialist country goes to olypic games in los angeles and no coubtry had chance to oppose.
            russia want always eat the neighbourgs, therefore does not care about pity friendships. but now this policy fights back. the fact, that no country trust russia is not done by imaginary evil, zionosts, masons and so on, but the real russian politics. you can see this also here, in syria, russia does not care, what want the government. russia let turks in aleppo. this is taitorish!!! russia blocked the former tabqa offense. becouse russie sold out syria. that is the fact.
            you are lonely runners and there is no help for you. you will lose everything, becouse without REALLY allied countries you have no chance.
            look at australia, kapan, south korea, taiwan, without any problems cooperate. and live own lives, but in case of threaten immediately work together. they are friends, allies. and not russia iran, russia + china. you betrayed vietnam and cuba. you never will have good contacts more. you had friends in these two countries. but you betrayed them in 90-ties. these are other nice examples, how does not make russia friends. and this is not americas work, you, and only you are responsible for such losses.

          • Daniel Castro

            BS! What?! European countries in NATO are free?! Don’t be ridiculous! You’re selling old lies here and we are not stupid to believe that. All countries in NATO are nothing more than occupied territories, your democracy is a farse which you were trined to believe. In NATO you have anglo-saxon countries which are pretty much one and the same empire through 5eyes deep state, you have germany which is an occupied 4th reich tamed by the leash, and you have France, the only country which has some form of sovereignity, but look, even the french were forced by NATO to not make business with Russia, All other NATO countries are nothing more than colonies with ZERO soverignity, if you believe otherwise it is because you were brainwashed. You won’t fool me anymore, I can see all through your discourse, but if you really believe what you are writing me I pity you because you are nothing more than the stereotyped subservient eastern european.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            who occupies them? in my country there is no other soldier only ours.

            and once again, i lived in bot nato and warsaw pact. i van comopare. you, portuguese have no chance.

          • Daniel Castro

            You are surrounded, your politicians are all on NATO paycheck, you are sold, they don’t need to occupy you, they own you, your army is theirs, period. BTW, latin countries were under western sponsored dictatorships for decades, they have only allowed democracy when they made sure all politcians and the army were sold, from Spain to Argentina, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil and Chile, there is your NATO freedom. Moreover, your country is probably a historic enemy to Russia, there is an old history of aggression on eastern europe, Poland and Russia are enemies, many other countries aided the nazis in the eastern front, WP was very different from NATO because the postwar circumstances was much more precarious.

  • Xanatos

    Tiger forces aren’t enough in the battle for hama. The militants have been renforced with thousands of new foreign recruits and thousands of fighters who arrived at idlib Province thanks to government withdrawal agreements.

    Idlib infighting is over, turkey is working with saudis again. The SAA are outnumbered and outgunned. Hama will fall if this is underestimated.

    This is all part of a greater plan to prevent SAA from defeating ISIS, and giving all ISIS territory to American kurdish Rojava. Erdogan stayed in power only to become a puppet.

    • ChiefWiggum

      ISIS will soon collapse, and the war might evolve to a similar scenario back in 2013.

  • NeoLeo

    United jihadist offensive in support of ISIS. Saudi terrorist puppets were not, and never will be interested in any peaceful solution, Russians are deluded. And Erdogan has many faces, all of them ugly.

    • Boris Kazlov

      You are correct, Russians are deluded, terrorists are terrorists, not peace -makers, the only peace is in the grave yard for them, as Stalin taught us.

      • Gary Sellars

        Mostly correct, but the Russians fully understand the nature of the serpent. You’re a fool for doubting it.

  • Steve

    Okay…so Trump claims we’re there to really combat ISIS for real now. So here is your chance to prove it!!!! Join with the SAA and the Russians to kick out ISIS from Hama. C’mon Assad is waiting for you to follow up with your tough talk, even though he didn’t invite your forces in.

    • Valery Grigoryev

      There are no ISIS forces at Hama front, but the bunch of different “moderate” islamistic groups, considered by the US as “freedomfighters”…

      • Gary Sellars

        Yes, and NOTHING more clearly demonstrates the disgusting Uh’murikkkan hypocrisy than their support via proxies for AQ affiliates.

  • Rodney Loder

    Hama crisis is being widely reported and looks like a well planned offensive, demonstrating the weakness of air power singularity against a determined enemy, of course Qassem Soleimani might be recalled to active duty if things get too bad, I think these setbacks are a learning curve in the sense that new capabilities have to be exhausted in order to get the message across.This is a ME leadership war, the most dangerous enemy are the Kurds.
    That’s why I say don’t be down on Erdogan he’s getting great reviews in the Muslim press all around the World, he’s not backing Salman or the other Aristocrats they are going with the West and Erdogan is doing great work opposing them, I think the situation couldn’t hardly be better.

    • PZIVJ1943

      Lets hope that this is only a 2 day offensive.
      I have no hope for the Jihadist scum who are murdering the women and children in the area.
      If you are not sunni muslim, you are killed. Hows that for ethnic cleansing?

      • Rodney Loder

        Qods Force will come if necessary, but there is no reports of outside jihadists flooding in no Chechan led Turkish Islamic Party, that’s where Ahrar al-Sham inherited their claims from, it could be a last mighty effort, the problem is with my Salafist Brothers that Ahmad b. Hanbal was tortured for many years by the Mu’tazila who wanted to interpret by cognition, He resisted and the Mu’tazila who would have been wrong for sure, were eliminated and they were the leaders of Islamic ideology, we saved Islam from a Talmudic future.
        We will accept cognition only from a Mahdi or a Isa no one else is able to intervene, fortunately I am Isa son of Maryum, but Assad is reluctant to give me a go, I can’t understand him.

        • Daniel Castro

          In my old neighborhood there was a guy who said he was Jesus too, I think he is still alive, if so I would like to see you face each other to see which is the real… Well, I am still waiting to see if you’ll teach something to those butchers wreaking havoc in Syria.

          • Rodney Loder

            I got history everyone knows, they got to give me a go, whoever I befriend becomes the Chosen People, my only preference is that it’s not Australians or Christians, only Salafists will do, the truth may not be relevant but one truth is, death reaches everyone, is God what we leave behind, ? as all Prophets did, or did I die on the Cross,? God maybe doesn’t want to be recognised, especially if Islam is more of the Christian same. But like I say I’m happy either way conception creating perceptions is proven by a Telepathic medium the same one Israel has been using for 66 years MY Telepathic Intellectual Property.