SYRIAN WAR REPORT – AUGUST 25, 2017: LARGE ISIS COUNTER-ATTACK IN SOUTHERN RAQQAH

South Front

ISIS has made a desperate attempt to regain the initiative in the battle for central Syria.

On August 24, ISIS launched a large counter-attack and recaptured the villages of al-Muqlah, al-Atshanah, Salem al-Hamad, al-Bu Hamad, Zor Shumr, al-Huwijah and Ghanem al-Ali in the southern Raqqa countryside.

According to the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq, ISIS killed 42 Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers during the attack. 58 more SAA members were allegedly killed in a car bomb attack on a gathering of SAA soldiers near Ghanim al-Ali village.

On August 25, clashes continued with the SAA and it sallies were attempting to regain momentum in the area.

Earlier this month, the SAA re-deployed many units of the Tiger Forces and Tribal Forces from the southern Raqqa countryside central Syria in order to conduct a large encirclement operation that ended earlier this week. This was one of the key reasons behind the ISIS success near Ghanem al-Alli.

The advance in southern Raqqah followed the offensive in the eastern Hama countryside where ISIS, supported by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and the Free Syrian Army, made a fierce attempt to cut off the the Salamiyah-Ithriyah-Khanassir-Aleppo road, the only government supply line to Aleppo city.

On August 23 and August 24, an intense fighting was ongoing at Wadi al-Adib and Shayk Hilal and as-Saan. However, by August 25, the SAA, the Qalamoun Shield Forces and the National Defense Forces (NDF) had stabilized the situation repelling all attempts to cut off the strategic supply line.

Meanwhile, the SAA Tiger Forces, the NDF and their allies further advanced against ISIS north of Palmyra and took control of Bi’r Qudaym and Jabal ‘Asab. The ISIS pocket north of Palmyra is rapidly shrinking because of ISIS’s lack of manpower there. According to local sources, ISIS has much more defense positions, manpower and weapons in the Uqayrabat area.

On the Syrian-Lebanese border, the SAA and Hezbollah liberated the Ras al-Shahut crossing, Wadi al-Magharah al-Kabir and Wadi al-Magharah al-Saqir heights from ISIS. There are reports about negotiations between Hezbollah and ISIS about a possibility of the ISIS withdrawal from the area. However, it’s unclear either there is a real possibility of the ISIS withdrawal or not.

 

9,000 AL-QAEDA-LINKED MILITANTS ATTEMPT TO TAKE CONTROL OVER SYRIA’S IDLIB PROVINCE – RUSSIAN MOD

About 9,000 al-Qaeda linked militants (members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) are attempting to take control over the Syrian province of Idlib, Colonel General Igor Korobov, chief of the Russian General Staff’s Main Directorate, announced on Friday.

“The total number of Nusra Front militants [an old brand of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham] in northwestern Idlib stands at 9,000 people. Currently, terrorists are trying to take control over the whole of its territory by intensifying combat actions against the moderate opposition groups,” Korobov said at the Army-2017 forum, according to the Russian state-run media.

Korobov emphasized that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is the second most powerful terrorist group in Syria. It includes more than 15,000 members, most of whom are Syrians.

Earler this week, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham assisted ISIS in its attack against government forces in the eastern Hama countryside. ISIS and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham united efforts in an attempt to cut off the the Salamiyah-Ithriyah-Khanassir-Aleppo road, the only government supply line to Aleppo city.  However, terrorists failed to achieve their goal.

SYRIAN ARMY CAPTURES MORE AREAS IN EAST HAMA AND EAST HOMS POCKETS. TIGER FORCES SEND REINFORCEMENTS TO SOUTHERN RAQQAH

Syrian Army Captures More Areas In East Hama and East Homs Pockets. Tiger Forces Send Reinforcements To Southern Raqqah

Click to see the full-size map

On Friday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies captured al-Koreat hills, the al-Ribahiah valley and Abud well west of al-Sukhanah town, and al-Harif valley northwest of al-Sukhanah town in the eastern Homs countryside, according to the Hezbollah media wing in Syria.

In the Eastern Hama countryside pocket, the SAA and its allies captured al-Suliba, al-Mukymen al-Shimali and al-Albawi hill south of Shikh Hilal town. By this advance the SAA pushed ISIS further away from the Salamiyah-Ithryah road.

On August 24, the SAA and Hezbollah repelled a large attack of ISIS fighters on their position in al-Waer valley near the Syrian-Iraqi border in the eastern Homs countryside. The Hezbollah media wing in Syria released a video showing ISIS loses during the clashes.

Meanwhile, Pro-government sources claimed that the SAA Tiger Forces have been re-deploying large forces to the southern Raqqa countryside. Government forces reportedly planning to recapture the villages that were taken by ISIS on August 24.

Syrian Army Captures More Areas In East Hama and East Homs Pockets. Tiger Forces Send Reinforcements To Southern Raqqah

 

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