Syrian War Report – April 3, 2017: April 4, 2017

Syrian War Report – April 4, 2017: Important Developments In Aleppo And Hama

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

On April 3rd, government forces captured the villages of Atshanat Jubb Miri and Idrisiyah which had been controlled by ISIS terrorists in the province of Aleppo. The villages are located directly north of the Jirah Military Airbase which is a major ISIS stronghold in the province.

On April 4th, the SAA and the NDF continued offensive operations in the area of the airbase, aiming to retake it from ISIS terrorists.

In March, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) made some attempts to storm the Jirah Military Airbase but failed to break the ISIS defenses. The situation was dramatically complicated with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-led offensive of the ‘moderate opposition’ against government forces in northern Hama. However, now, that the problems in northern Hama are mostly solved, the SAA and the NDF are resuming their attempts to recapture this strategic site from terrorists.

The control over Jubb Miri and Idrisiyah will allow government forces to launch an advance on the Jirah Air Base from 3 directions (northern, eastern, and western) simultaneously. If the SAA and the NDF are not able to achieve success in this storm, they will likely make a push on Duroubiyah Kabira and Jarah Kabir to encircle the ISIS-held airbase.

In northern Hama, government forces liberated Maardes, Iskanderiyah, Tal Zaydan, Maardes bridge, and other nearby points from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies. By April 4th, the SAA, the NDF, and other pro-government formations had concentrated significant forces east and south of Souran and launched an attack on this militant-held town. According to reports, militants already retreated from the area.

Artillery and air strikes continued against militant targets in the vicinity of Hulfiah, Tal Nsriah, and Tibat al Imam.
In case of a rapid collapse of militant defenses in the area, government forces could make a flanking maneuver aiming to besiege Tibat al Imam from the northern direction, capturing Lahia, Buidah, and Masasnah. If the SAA and its allies are able to do this and to entrench in these positions, the situation of militants in Tibat al-Imam will have little chances of keeping the town.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan has announced that Ankara is now preparing new military operations in Syria.

“We have completed the first phase of the Euphrates Shield Operation with the cleaning of Syria’s al-Bab from terrorists. It is now over and there will be [operations] from now on. Right now, we are preparing for new operations to walk all over terror organizations in other regions. We will give new names to new operations. We have very good surprises for all terror groups, including the PKK, YPG, DEASH, [and] FET waiting for the spring,” Erdogan said during a rally in the province of Trabzon on Monday.

As SF forecasted earlier, the official end of the Turkish Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria does not mean that Ankara is going to decrease its military involvement in the conflict. Furthermore, the Erdogan government is seaking options to increase its influence.

The statement came amid widely spreading rumors by pro-opposition sources that Turkey and the United States have made a secret deal which will allow pro-Turkish forces to participate in the storming of the ISIS self-proclaimed capital of Raqqah. While these reports look barely reliable, the whole media campaign has a clear aim – to play into the hands of Erdogan to allow Ankara to get a bigger piece of the pie under a pretext of combating terrorism.

The growing Turkish influence will at least contribute to the Israeli, Qatari, and Saudi plans aimed at defending that what they consider to be own interests in the war torn country.

 

Syrian War Report – April 3, 2017: Militant Defenses Collapsing In Northern Hama

April 03, 2017

Units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Tiger Forces, the 5th Legion and the National Defense Forces (NDF) are readying for a fresh push against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies in the northern countryside of Hama. Government troops see the towns of Suran and Maardes as a needed minimum to reverse the militant gains in the province. At the same time, government forces artillery unit and troops increased their activity in around Halfaya. According to local sources, government forces will launch an offensive operation on these fronts soon. On Monday, government troops recaptured Maardes.

Meanwhile, Jaish al-Izza continues massively using anti-tank guided missiles pounding government military equipment and troops deployed in the area. Last weekend, Jaish al-Izza used a TOW missile against a SAA tank near al-Majd and a Fagot missile against a 23 mm gun east of Mahardeh. These missiles are a key component of the militants’ capabilities to equalize the SAA’s advantage in armoured vehicles.

Clashes between government forces and militants are ongoing in eastern Damascus. Last weekend, the SAA attacked militant positions in the Barzeh area in the Qabun neighborhood. But government forces were not able to achieve any gains. Separately, a fighting was reported south of the Qabun industrial area where government troops attempted to advance against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its friends. According to pro-opposition sources, the SAA had lost up to 10 fighters, a battle tank and a Shilka self-propelled gun in the clashes.

With growing tensions between the Syrian government and the so-called opposition in the Astana and Geneva formats and a de-facto collapse of the ceasefire in many areas across Syria, the militant-held town of Barzah and the Qabun pocket could become a next expected target of government forces in the area of Damascus.

The SAA continued operations against ISIS in the countryside of Palmyra. Government troops seized the Abu Duhur Mountain and captured a chunk of the road to the town of Arak controlled by ISIS. After redeployment a number of units of the 5th Legion from the area to northern Hama, government forces have not been able to make significant advances against ISIS in the countryside of the ancient city. However, the operation to secure the nearby field is steadily ongoing.

The situation remains tense in Dir Ezzor where the SAA and ISIS terrorists clash in the area of the Deir Ezzor airbase. Clashes were reported near the Al-Snuf hill and the Al Sham fuel station. Both sides claimed heavy casualties among each other. The Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces play an important role in keeping ability of SAA units deployed in Deir Ezzor to repel ISIS attacks.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) repelled a large ISIS attack in the Tabqa Military Airport in the province of Raqqah. SDF fighters killed 20 ISIS members and seized a BMP vehicle in these clashes. According to pro-ISIS sources, some 12 SDF fighters were killed as a result of ISIS suicide bombing near Tabqa.

SDF units are aiming to fully encircle the nearby town of Tabqa and to seize it from the ISIS terrorist group. If this is done, they will be able to focus on storming the Tabqa dam from the southern and northern directions. Now, US-backed forces are in control of only northern part of the dam. The US Marine Corps provide an artillery support to the SDF, using M777 howitzers.

 

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