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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The new year brought the Syrian front, the strong change

The truce declared in Syria shortly before the new year, is observed not all and not everywhere. As a result, January has presented the government army a number of surprises. Some of them are downright nasty, others – on the contrary, encouraging. And the main thing now, to the General staff in Damascus did not repeat their previous mistakes.

A lull that followed a joint statement of Russia, Turkey and the Syrian government on the proclamation of the armistice, in the end still was broken jihadist and so-called moderate opposition in several controlled enclaves in the province of Damascus, and Deir-ez-Zor.

“ISIS shot of ATGM on the airfield two old L-39 Czech-made. Not much of that, of course, but by the standards of the Syrian air force is a significant loss”

Fighting in the two enclaves near Damascus – Eastern ghouta and the valley of Wadi Barada is resumed after the notorious “dzhebhat an-Nusra” tore agreement, which she wasn’t supposed to interfere with engineering works on restoration of normal supply of the Syrian capital. First, the jihadists are simply not allowed of engineers at related facilities, and then why it burned from a grenade launcher a Syrian peace tractor. And all this against the background of the fact that other groupings (in the valley of Wadi Barada, for example) last year signed an agreement to surrender and quietly waited for the bus in Idlib according to the bought tickets.

In response to the trick of “an-Nusra” government troops occupied several hills in the Northern part of the enclave in the area of Dahrat the NAHL. A sweep also hit old posts that the opposition has left under the agreement of surrender. After extensive use of aircraft and artillery jihadists left several strong points, which was immediately occupied by the Syrian army. In General, the Wadi is a dried-up riverbed of former rivers in the desert, in fact – canyons in the sand, which because of the nature of the local Geology are relatively high hills – dunes. This natural defensive position, but its resources are jihadists and “moderate” long exhausted. All except the “an-Nusra”, which consistently demonstrates a rare obstinacy, has long been ready to leave Wadi Barada in favor of the comfort of Idlib.

Chances of survival from this group no. If not strain, on its destruction will take one to two weeks. While heavy fighting there, most likely, will not, everything will end with the traditional visit to Idlib.

In Eastern ghouta, the situation is somewhat more complicated. There “hardcore” is considerably greater: in addition to all the same “an-Nusra”, actively uses more and “Jaish al-Islam”, however, is also not in the enclave, and in the Eastern part of the quarter of An-Nasaria. The truce in Eastern ghouta is not valid, it wasn’t even there stated. While government forces prefer to attack positions of the jihadists, providing everything the opportunity to queue for tickets to the North. Gradually, the Syrian army cuts off the enclave piece by piece – after Aleppo it has become a common tactic for the elimination surrounded by groups. And this tactic works, despite the fact that sometimes the intensity of the fighting is quite high.

After government forces regained control of all military facilities around the enclave, including several airfields and air bases, the fate of Eastern Guta solved. The militants, however, still refuse to give up, but Syria has been repeatedly held that when the situation becomes critical, they will think of saving the buses.

Another thing is that to be busy with this enclave can be quite long, perhaps the whole calendar year. While one of the most anticipated events of the near future – the widely publicized onset* against government positions in Deir ez-Zor. The terrorists belong to the garrison of the Syrian army on the Euphrates about the same as Damascus surrounded by the enemy in the gut or Wadi Barada. The idea is to put the squeeze became obsessive: ISIS militants regularly attack the garrison, which was in General holding the position, but there is a loss in their quality – fighters were able to repel a few hills at the strategic airbase that was a complete surprise for the Syrian air force, which did not even have time to evacuate their light fighters. As a result, the fighters shot from the ATGM on the airfield two old L-39 Czech-made. Not much of that, of course, but by the standards of the Syrian air force is a significant loss.

The garrison of Deir ez-Zor supplied quite badly and in such a situation can not plan any offensive operations on his own resources are sufficient only to maintain the defense. Can help expected offensive by government forces to Palmyra with further access directly to Deir-ez-Zor, or at least to the oil fields near the town. ISIS, incidentally, also can not rely on the formation of very large groups in order to eliminate a government enclave in one blow – terrorist forces are dispersed. However, the situation is unpleasant.

This is another reminder to the General staff in Damascus that it was not necessary coffee break last summer, when after the liberation of the Palmyra road to Deir ez-Zor were almost open. Then the first long thought, I looked at the map, and then suddenly decided to attack Raqqa with all leaked out of this unpleasant consequences. Then came the battle for Aleppo, in which slept the counter at Palmyra, and now have to start all over again.

At the same time preparing an attack on Palmyra, yet is extremely sluggish. Presumably, in the course of a month will end romp around the Wadi Barada, and involved group of government forces would switch to the other enclave – the area around the village of Beit Jinn the Golan heights, not far from the famous mount Hermon (Jabal al-Sheikh Mountain Sheikh), which, according to some theologians, took place the Transfiguration of Christ. And this is the line of demarcation with Israel.

Hermon is the highest point of Israel and for its defense in 1974, was created a special unit (Sayeret) climbers – previously unheard of in the Israeli army corps. At the same time the Syrian commando was able to briefly recapture the Holy mountain, but now such a task before them is not worth it. Rather, Israel will tacitly promote the elimination of jihadist enclave in the vicinity of one of its key pain points – the Golan heights. In addition to solving military tasks, freeing neighborhoods of Hermon and help with the solution of humanitarian problems, namely: facilitate the water supply of Damascus, and – incidentally – the province of Deraa. But keep in mind that the terrorist “Fatah al-sham” in the defense of Beit Jinn actively used suicide bombers, so it won’t be easy.

Gradually come to life and some other sectors of the front, but because the jihadists and “moderates” has not yet regained his strength after the heavy losses incurred last fall, their attacks are more like the usual raids on supply routes. Dangerous is the situation around the settlement Salaam, through which from the side of Hama and HOMS being the supply of Aleppo. One of the largest cities in the province of HOMS ar-Rastan (before the war there lived about 50 thousand people), too, is a jihadist enclave with all the trappings of power of ISIS, including mass executions and the triumph of Sharia justice. Ar-Rastan has become a source of jihadist contagion despite the fact that almost completely destroyed as several times passed from hand to hand. ISIS “rastanski pot” is something of a symbol of resistance to wrong, and they repeatedly proclaimed the beginning of a strategic offensive with the goal deblokady the city. While the battles in this area are positional, but the fact of its existence is extremely annoying and caused confusion in the supply of Aleppo. And while government troops have not stated any attempts of eliminating the “rustavskogo pot”.

As to the Russian aircraft, last night she struck the first with the New year air strikes on positions of grouping “Jaish al-Fatah”, South of Aleppo. Specific – goals on the route to Khan tuman. This impact supported the operation of government troops and Hizbullah in the direction of the quarter Rashidin in the direction of the village of Khan al-Assal. “Jaish al-Fath” is not included in the number of groups associated with the cease-fire, although, according to some sources, they would like to negotiate. And then, perhaps, it should be emphasized that the operation of government troops South of Aleppo is that is tactical in nature and should not affect the political process in Syria as a whole.

* Organization in respect of which the court accepted entered into legal force decision on liquidation or ban the activities on the grounds stipulated by the Federal law “On countering extremist activity”


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