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Monday, February 19, 2018

Russia’s military campaign in Syria in 15 minutes: basic fighting

When Russia began in Syria campaign, some military analysts predicted that we will be stuck in “the second Afghanistan”. But the second of Afghanistan from Syria failed. Vladimir Putin announced the withdrawal of troops from the Arab Republic. The fighting in Syria still going on, but that ISIL (banned in Russia) close to defeat, any doubts does not leave. And this is probably the main difference from Afghanistan. We go out of Syria winners.

In 1989, when our troops left Afghanistan, some Afghan commanders gave the knives. On one side was written: “the Soviets, why are you here?”, and turning them, commanders have found very different treatment: “the Soviets, why are you leaving?”. In the case of Syria, our military can only hear “Russia, I’m glad you came”. About the most important milestones in the Syrian campaign in our material.

photo: AP

To Russia: defense Kobani

In October 2014, the militants came close to the outskirts of Kobani, a small Syrian city right on the border with Turkey. Defended Kobani Kurdish YPG and YPJ (people’s protection Units and women’s defense units). Terrorists have repeatedly entered the city and occupied areas of Kobani but never fully moved to the enemy.

Kobane was an important ISIL stronghold. By the time the terrorists were in control of several border villages from Jarablus to tel Abyad. Kobani has linked these two transit point, and setting the control of the city, the militants would have received unimpeded communication between them, and that delivery of weapons and the transit of oil.

Like any besieged city of Kobani are faced with a complete lack of necessary resources. Medication is not enough, stocks of ammunition melted. More than a month, Turkey has refused to open the border to deliver supplies and weapons into the besieged city. And on the other side of the border, in Turkey, countrymen defending the Kurds were forced to watch as all of the trunks of the town watered by the militants. Several times organized Kurdish groups tried to cross the border, but the Turks regularly they were detained and either disarmed, or particularly nimble shot.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, watching the unfolding massacre, probably gleefully rubbing their hands. In public he declared that he did not intend “to help one of the extremists in the fight with others.” The motive of this statement is quite prosaic: defending the city of YPG and YPJ forces affiliated with the Kurdistan workers ‘ party (PKK), recognized in Turkey as a terrorist group. Some fighters cut other fighters picture for Erdogan looked very nice. But the Kurds were strong guys.

On 7 October, the militants entered the city, fighting broke out in the streets. These days from the air, Kurds supported coalition aircraft, led by the United States. According to the defender, flew U.S. planes a lot, but often by the city, and sometimes fighters just hit my foresight, and left occupied positions in exactly a few minutes before the airstrike.

To create the illusion of intense activity, coalition “fired from a gun on sparrows”, that is, chasing individual Jihad-mobiles across the desert, spending on them the destruction of expensive missiles. Also there were frequent cases, when the coalition “by mistake” bombed the infrastructure of Kobani and the position of the Syrian Kurds.

In fairness I must say that it is not always the coalition was missed. Many times that is dropped from aircraft humanitarian assistance saved the Kurds in emergency situations.

For them it was important to keep the border crossing, because they still hoped that there they would help. Several times women Kurds staged a suicide bombing in the quarters occupied by militants. And for a Muslim to die at the hands of women — shame. The defense of the city, by the way, among others, commanded a woman – Narin Afrin. She got a garrison of about 2,000 people, against 8000 of the rebels (according to the Pentagon). In this balance of forces, no heavy weapons, lack of medication, the defense of the city was seen as almost suicidal.

Help defending the city still came. 31 Oct the first and only time Turkey missed about 150 Peshmerga fighters (armed Kurdish Iraqi Kurdistan) with heavy weapons. It happened a radical change. The self-defense units began to vacate the block by block, simultaneously rasminya of the building. Coalition air stopped several times for a massive counter-offensive of the insurgents.

Finally, the city and its surroundings passed into the hands of the Kurds on 26 January. And already on February 6, they reached the Euphrates.

Here the fighters have almost no fight left position. Not because they were afraid of the offensive of the Kurds, but because their purpose has changed. On the horizon loomed the province of Deir-ez-Zor, the oil-rich province of Syria. Then the border with Turkey was almost entirely controlled by ISIL and, in principle, problems with the transportation of oil was not.

Still, the defense of Kobane was the first great victory of the forces fighting against ISIS in Syria. Before that, the fighters only conquered new territory, or successfully held position.

The Looting Of Palmyra

The same arch on the cover of a history textbook that is familiar to all schoolchildren was in Palmyra. Until may 2015, government forces held the city, but the situation on other fronts was critical in Idlib province, the insurgents pressed government forces. So they decided to send part of the garrison of Palmyra. This was used by ISIS militants. They quickly launched an offensive, seized the town Sohne and moved to Palmyra, the campaign committed the massacre of civilians.

When in may 2015 the Palmyra was captured by the insurgents, around the world shattered the barbaric footage of the destruction of monuments. However, the destroyed fighters only that is not able to take and sell. And on 18 August they publicly beheaded Keeper Palmyra Khalid al-Asaad.

By the way, on the sale of the historic property IG well has been enriched. According to various sources they have earned in 2015-2016 from 150 to 300 million dollars in export values.

The situation in Aleppo

Aleppo is one of the largest cities in the Middle East. Riots it began in 2012. First collision was solely between government forces and the moderate opposition.

But in 2013, the arena went dzhebhat an-Nusra (banned in Russia organization). In the result of some “moderate” groups sided with the militants, opposition simply destroyed. And under the control of government forces remained in the end, only Western quarters of the city. At the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014, the war here became more positional, and by the end of 2014, when the city approached the allied factions, government forces conducted several successful operations. However, to dislodge terrorists from the city failed.

The Siege Of Deir Ez-Zor

The unrest in Deir ezzor began long before the arrival of ISIS in Syria. In 2011-2012, the city began an anti-government uprising. The reign of Bashar al-Assad was unhappy, and even a four-year drought is not added patience and humility to the residents that lived, including at the expense of the agricultural business. The President ordered to suppress the uprising, clashes began with the police. But part of the security forces defected to the rebels and created the armed forces known as the free Syrian army (FSA).

This civil confusion was used by the terrorist group. First dzhebhat an-Nusra tried to take control over the province. Its disparate factions, gaining control of individual settlements began to squabble among themselves, and it would seem that to beat such an inconsistent power no problem. But across the border from Iraq into Syria in 2013, came a little-known group, which later evolved into ISIS.

Its fighters managed to knock all the competitors out of the oil province, to get over her almost complete control. Remained only a small enclave in the city of Deir ez-Zor, which kept the government forces.

At the airport stuck loyal to Assad 137-I mechanized brigade, which was more than 3 years to hold a few blocks and elevations in the vicinity of the city. Local residents organized a unit of National defense forces that helped the military to protect neighborhoods. In 2013, assistance to the military came on the 104th brigade of the Republican guard, commanded by Brigadier General Issam Zahreddin. The same General, which will become the symbol of defense of Deir ez-Zor. In his Arsenal there were only a few T-72 tanks and anti-aircraft installations.

Until 2014, the surrounding communities and part of the city is constantly passed from hand to hand, but in favor of ISIS played the capture in Mosul of warehouses with ammunition and military equipment. The position of the garrison of government forces was disastrous.

Any forces needed to hold the airfield, because it is through him did all the supplies into the besieged city. The problems started with water, food and medicines. Water was given once a week. Humanitarian goods to deliver everything was heavier fighters regularly hit the helicopters coming in for a landing.

It is unknown how many would have lasted the garrison, if in 2015, the war is not Russia intervened.

30 September — start of operation of the Russian space forces in Syria

The agreement on the deployment of Russian forces on the airfield Hamim was concluded on 26 August, Russia officially joined the war in Syria on the side of government forces on September 30.

In addition to the main airfield, our videoconferencing is still used some in Syria, including al-Sirat in the province of HOMS and Ties in Palmyra. The last two are called airfields — that is intended for short-term Parking to replenish ammo, refuel and repair non-capital. Are used to increase the range of the aircraft.

All technical and support staff arrived in Syria before the start of official operation.

According to the General staff of the armed forces, the aviation group never exceeded 35 aircraft.

First, Atshan and Sheikh Miskin

Atshan is a city in the Syrian province of Hama. The North province is adjacent to Idlib, which was completely under the control of militants. Atshan was released 10 October, 10 days after the beginning of the operation of the VCS. It was quite noticeable first victory of the Syrian forces, with the participation of our pilots.

Sheikh Miskin is a large city at the intersection of the road leading to Jera, Damascus and Quneitra. For fighters such staging post was of great importance — he was the supply in the South of the country. So and defended it stubbornly. The attack on the city and the operation on his release lasted for 28 days — from 1 January 2016. The city was surrounded, Russian aircraft bombed day and night positions of the militants. And when the assault began, the troops managed to take control of the town just a few hours. Part of the militants fled across the border to Jordan, a part took refuge in the neighboring towns.

The liberation of Aleppo and the dog Buttermilk

In 2015, prior to the entry into the war of Russia, the government forces of Assad, along with its allies held a series of successful operations and recaptured several strategic heights, which allowed to begin to encircle Aleppo from the North. It is with this trend of militants in the city received support from the Turkish border. Russian aerospace forces, enlisting in the war, ironed positions of the militants. By the summer of 2016, the city was blocked, and began his siege.

In November government troops went into the final offensive.

The exact date of the liberation of Aleppo, not least because this city never passed completely under the control of insurgents. Eastern areas, which were under the militants, was released in December 2016. Militants made an agreement. They were released from the city on the condition that they will take with them only light weapons and give all prisoners of war. However, in practice it turned out differently. When Pro-government forces explored the Eastern districts of Aleppo, in one of the schools found their prisoners. Someone beheaded, someone was shot in the head, despite the agreements reached. Then the city went out about 7 thousand fighters. They were taken all day by bus, with families, children, clothes and ammunition.

The infrastructure of the city was almost completely destroyed. After complete release and Stripping of the city, it started to work the specialists of our mine action centre. House by house they examined Aleppo and left militants defused an improvised explosive device. The Internet swept a picture of a friendly dog named Buttermilk. She helped the Russian military to demine the city. Three months it took to completely clear Aleppo from mines and roadside bombs.

Passing Palmyra

The operation to liberate Palmyra began March 9, 2016. The Russian space forces regularly attacked the convoys of militants who tried to break through to her from Deir-ez-Zor and Raqqa. It all ended on March 27. Fighters, about 2 thousand people, knocked out of the historic town and the modern part of Tadmor. It was during the liberation of Palmyra died heroically our serviceman Alexander Prokhorenko. He adjusted the fire of artillery the Syrians, but have been calculated by ISIS. When he realized that he will inevitably be either killed or taken prisoner to fighters, he waited until they are as close and caused the fire itself. Awarded the star of Hero of Russia posthumously.

In may in Palmyra orchestra of the Mariinsky theatre under Valery Gergiev gave a concert in the historic part. Palmyra became the symbol of the triumph of Russian arms. Residents of the city while listening to the orchestra, which symbolized the beginning of a peaceful life, and believed that the nightmare that they experienced while under the control of ISIS, will not happen again. Unfortunately, they were wrong.

Militants still threaten the outskirts of the city. So whether it was negligence or such iron self-confidence, but part of the government troops soon after the capture of Palmyra was transferred to other sectors than the rebels did. In December they launched an attack on Palmyra.

And six months after the triumphant release, hastily stepping back, Syrian troops surrendered the city.

For the second occupation, the militants managed to blow up Tetrapylon and part of the Roman theatre (the same one which hosted the concert of the orchestra of the Mariinsky theatre). There was a possibility that Palmyra the world community will lose. Already on 14 December, Syrian troops counterattacked the militants. Our air force inflicted surgical strikes, preparing the ground attack. It is interesting that the militants in their accounts boasted that captured Palmyra alleged forces of only 300 people. However, the government denied this information and called the number from 1000 to 4000 fighters.

On March 26, Syrian troops re-entered the historic part of Palmyra. This time for good.

The lifting of the blockade of Deir ez-Zor and Abu Kemal

The offensive in Deir ez-Zor began in the summer of 2017. When the Syrian troops managed to take the city Sohne provinciei in HOMS, the retreating terrorists drove in a few “boilers” and smoothed out. Securing the home front, the Syrian army advanced steadily in the direction of the blocked city. At some point, the militants managed to break the garrison Dei ez-Zor into two groups — one controlled the base of the 137th brigade, and the other was holding the airport. If the militants then managed to knock both of the garrison, it is not known how many went on the operation to liberate the city.

5 September 2017 was officially announced breaking the siege of Deir ez – Zor. Advanced units of the Syrian forces under the command of Suhail al-Hassan entered the city.

Then it was the turn of Abu-Kemal. It was strategically important because it lies on the border with Iraq and the insurgents almost freely walked across the border. Cut off their oxygen was needed, particularly immediately after the liberation of Deir ez-Zor. The city took “sensible”. First artillery were suppressed all points of the mortar and destroyed equipment, and then the main forces launched an offensive. Militants in the city were many, but devoid of equipment and mortars, they quickly “broken” and out of the city. Cleaned out same Abu Kemal Lebanese Hezbollah. After 10 days, announced a full liberation of the city.

El Cartan — the last battle

In September 2016 it seemed that no serious fractures will not. The battle for Deir-ez-Zor, Palmyra remained deep in the rear. And suddenly the morning of 30 September we received information allegedly captured the town of al-Cartan in the province of HOMS. The town was located 160 kilometers from the front line. First, this information seemed too implausible, after all, how could disparate groups to capture not just a village, but a town that was completely incomprehensible. The only one that was confused by the lack of connection with the city itself. To check a particular fact was impossible. Even then, it has been suggested that the militants could help sleeper cells inside Kartana. It was the only logical explanation.

The night of 30 September the territory government forces broke through the surviving soldiers of the garrison Karatani and confirmed that the city was taken by the militants with the help of local cells. The situation, according to survivors, was developed as follows.

In the morning, about 10 o’clock, to the city from three directions pulled up columns of cars. The soldiers stationed at the checkpoint opened fire. At one of the checkpoints have destroyed the whole garrison, but two other fighters managed to convey to the city the information about the attack.

However, the garrison of the city were relatively few in number, consisted, in particular, of the policemen, who had no combat experience. And then they were between two fires. On the one hand come the militants from the outskirts, and the city is already raging rebellion — began to operate sleeper cells. Survivors military and police withdrew into the building of the local municipality and to 9 p.m. tried to stop him, but when he realized that the city is completely under the control of militants, decided to break their. They brought news that the city is lost. And civilians started 22 days of hell.

The local militants had killed indiscriminately. First, according to residents Karatani, they drove them all home and began to plunder. Anyone who tried to resist or contrary to the prohibition left the house was killed. When Karacan released, the city will be well filled with the corpses of local residents.

The ISIS blew up in Karitane the bakery and the hospital. The city was left without food and treatment. Corpses lay on the street, relatives were not allowed to take the bodies of their loved ones and bury them.

Government troops did not dare to storm. They needed information on the strength of the enemy. Besides, located near Karatani military base was also attacked ISIS. Government troops were forced to first give up power to the base defense, and when the danger of its capture was finally over, began to prepare for the liberation of the city. The militants, inspired by the successful seizure of Caracana, decided to meet the government forces in the city and the surrounding area. And miscalculated. The Syrians took an hour to draw them to flight. The city again came under the control of government forces.

A total of 22 days under the rule of ISIS were more than 200 civilians killed. The town was devastated and almost completely destroyed. Only with the arrival of government forces the relatives could take the bodies of their relatives and bury them. Syrian soldiers themselves said they rarely had to see the results of such senseless cruelty.

The war in Syria. Chronicle of events

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