By Canthama, exclusive to SyrPer:
What seems to be a calmer moment in Syria this weekend, a lot of backstage maneuverings may indicate significant changes ahead, following some of the latest actions and possible consequences in this 5 year old war of aggression against Syria.
Aleppo: After the disastrous defeat a few days ago at the Al–Mallah farms where Al-Qaeda/Nusra and “moderate” allies lost 12 armored vehicles and many more machine gun flatbeds, the terrorists lost the initiative of counter offensives in northwest Aleppo, which was expected due to the high killed/wounded stats for the past month. At the same time, the 4th Mechanized Armored Division continues to advance in Layramoun, tightening the knot around the Bani Zayd District contributing to the “quicksand” effect for the terrorists in NW Aleppo. The Tiger Force has complete fire control of the Castillo road, thus, trapping all the terrorists inside the eastern part of Aleppo city. It’s a de facto siege at the moment.
At the same time, the Liwaa` Al-Quds brigade, SAA and NDF continue to advance inside the Handaraat camp. This battle is crucial to the quest to liberate all of Aleppo City. The dense urban warfare inside Handaraat camp, surrounded by small hills, points to a special challenge for this task. On the other hand, the small hills and quarries around it, provide an optimum position for the Syrian forces to storm eastern Aleppo city after full control of the camp. The liberation of Handaraat camp will place the Syrian forces at the Castillo road on the Jandoul Roundabout and ‘Uwaija District, basically pushing all terrorists inside eastern Aleppo City into an urban cul de sac, which without weapons and food supplies will either force them to surrender or accept reconciliation. It’s either that or starving to death as they struggle on fighting with their bare claws.
Latest actions in southern Aleppo are pointing to a possible new offensive there by the SAA. That is a very important development since it would force Al Qaeda/Nusra to split their forces, thus, trimming their defenses in NW Aleppo. The coordination of both events will probably herald the moment when the Tiger Forces will storm Hayyaan, Huraytaan or Bayaanoon.
Map credit to Islamic World News @A7_Mirza
Homs/Palmyra: The recent deployment of the battle hardened Kata’ib Al-Imaam ‘Ali brigade, an Iraqi Shi’a militia formed in June 2014 as the armed wing of the Harakat Al-Iraq al-Islamiyah, from southern Aleppo toward Palmyra may indicate that the plan to liberate Dayr El-Zor Province and the siege of its capital will be a coordinated effort between the Syrian and Iraqi governments with the active participation of all allied Syrian forces, such as Hezbollah and Iraqi militias. This is a nightmare scenario for NATO and the GCC countries that financed the war of aggression against Syria. Both Eastern Homs and Dayr El-Zor are a vital crossroad to any gas pipeline plans in the ME toward the Mediterraean coast from Iran. It’s worthwhile to follow closely the development of the RuAF bombing campaign east of Palmyra; the deployment of more Syrian and allied forces toward the area; and any sign of Iraqi forces advancing in the upper Euphrates toward Al Qaa`im/Al-Bukamaal.
Any serious attempt to advance toward Dayr El- Zor from Palmyra, will be met with ISIS attacking eastern Hama. This vulnerability needs to be well considered and balanced out by the allied forces’ high command.
Late news from Saturday points exactly to this challenge. Recent advances in eastern Palmyra have met with an ISIS offensive toward Mafkar ash Sharqi, in the eastern Al–Salamiyyah region.
Photos credit to Ivan Sidorenko at @ivansidorenko1
Qalamoon: This has been a quiet battle front for several months, but, recently, it has exploded like a pressure-cooker and most of the mountain chain is embroiled in action between the Lebanese army, NE of Lebanon near Qaara, Hezbollah forces in many places and most recently with the SAA in southern Qalamoon. The military operations here are different in nature. In NE Lebanon, the Lebanese Army is trying to strengthen security by cracking terrorist cells in several villages. Hezbollah is attacking the remaining forces of ISIS and Al Nusra that are still causing trouble on the high mountains. However, it is very much a mop-up operation, since the terrorist forces there do not have the wherewithal to cause any major trouble.
The recent SAA offensive in the Southern Qalamoon is a totally different one. This is an eradication campaign to remove the remaining Al- Qaeda\Nusra terrorists and their confederates from all the way south of Maaraboon District down to Waadi Baradaa, between east of Zabadaani/Madhaayaa and west of Rankoos, a dry area with few villages in high places. Here we have a combination of forces, Hezbollah, NDF and SAA leading the way. Yesterday, the allied forces have scored a very important victory with the complete liberation of the Al Qaeda/Nusra stronghold of Hurayra (map and video below. See Ziad’s report, below) This is a very important victory since it pushed the remaining retreating terrorists toward the mountains with few places to hide or to inhabited villages where local notables will think twice whether they would host them lest they face the allied forces storming their villages. Watch out for the village of Afraah, next in line to be liberated. Cleaning the Qalamoon Mountains from the remaining terrorists will enhance the security for both the Syrian and Lebanese borders, while significantly improving the safety of northern Damascus that will positively impact the fight in East and West Ghouta.
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