Syrian War Report – February 17, 2017: Turkish General Staff Believes Al-Bab Is ‘Liberated’

February 18, 2017

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) continued an assault against ISIS in the province of Homs, recapturing Eastern Bayarat and further advancing on Jabal Hayyal and Jabhal Thaniyat near the ISIS-held city of Palmyra. If government troops are able to take control over these hills, they will be able to set a fire control over the western outskirts of Palmyra.

Separately, government troops attacked ISIS terrorists in the area if the Jihar field northeast of the Tiyas Airbase, but were not able to make gains there yet.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), predominantly Kurdish YPG units, resized the villages of Siadun and Hasan Zayd from ISIS.

The northern Syrian town of al-Bab has been liberated from ISIS terrorists and Turkish troops are now working to clear the area from mines and explosives, the Turkish daily “Daily Sabah” reported, citing Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar. Probably, the Turkish chief of general staff forgot that pro-Turksih militant groups, backed up by the Turkish army, had retreated almost from all areas seized in the ISIS stronghold of al-Bab. Thus, the only side controlling al-Bab is ISIS.

Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani has allegedly visited Moscow to meet with high-ranking Russian officials, Fox News reported on Wednesday, citing sources in intelligence. Soleimani is a commander of the Quds Force, a Special Forces’ unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations. The Kremlin declined to comment on media reports about the visit of the Iranian Major General.

If Soleimani’s visit to Russia is confirmed, it would be an obvious move by the Iranian political-military leadership. The likely agenda was the involvement of the US and Turkey in the conflict, as well as combating ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria across the Middle East.

 

Turkish forces lose ground as ISIL’s counter-offensive begins in Al-Bab

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:10 P.M.) – The Islamic State (ISIS) forces struck back against the Turkish Army and their rebel allies on Friday, seizing several points from the latter inside Al-Bab City.

According to the Islamic State’s official media wing, their forces recaptured the Shehabi Farms at the northern gates of Al-Bab after a battle with the Turkish Army and their rebel allies on Friday afternoon.

With Shehabi Farms under their control, the Islamic State will now attempt to retake Aqil Hill from the Turkish Armed Forces in the Al-Bab countryside.

If ISIS is successful in their quest to recapture the Aqil Hill, then they will have reversed most of the gains made by the Turkish Armed Forces in Al-Bab.

 

Syrian War Report – February 16, 2017: Pentagon To Deploy Conventional Ground Forces To Syria?

Syrian government forces have liberated the villages of Rasm al-Kama, Rasm al-Kabir and Shuwaylekh from ISIS terrorists in the province of Aleppo. The operation was heavily supported by the Russian air power. ISIS-linked sources say that over 40 airstrikes were recently delivered in the Kuweires Airbase countryside.

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces have reportedly liberated the Western Bayarat village from ISIS in the province of Homs. Government troops are now in about 23 km from the ISIS-held ancient city of Palmyra.

The military situation in the Eastern Ghouta region near the Syrian capital of Damascus remains tense. Clashes between the joint forces of Jaish al-Islam and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and the Syrian army have been ongoing at Nashabiyah and Hazrama.

The Pentagon is considering sending conventional ground troops, additionally to US Special Forces already operating in northern Syria. “It’s possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time,” one defence official told CNN on February 15. The possible deployment of ground troops are clearly linked to the ongoing campaign to isolate and to retake from ISIS the group’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqah. The US-baсked Syrian Democratic Forces, predominantly Kurdish YPG units, have little chances to retake the city without heavy casualties and time expenditure if they even can do it without massive supplies of heavy military equipment and other weapons. These supplies will clearly deepen the rift between Washington and Ankara which sees Kurdish insurgency as a threat to its sovereignty. In turn, the Pentagon’s idea would significantly alter US military operations in Syria if approved and could put troops on the ground within weeks.

On February 16, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov was set to hold a meeting in Baku. The agreed agenda included discussion of the military cooperation between Russia and the US, as well as issues of prevention of incidents related to the military activities of the parties. The possible deployment of US ground troops to Syria, a military situation over al-Bab and the Kurdish-Turkish tensions were also clearly set to be a part of the agenda.

 

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