Washington’s plan for chaos and the Syrian encirclement خطة واشنطن للفوضى والقفص السوري

Washington’s plan for chaos and the Syrian encirclement

يونيو 19, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Before the battle of Aleppo, Moscow was preparing to participate with Washington in a political context that avoids the military solutions and devotes the common cooperation to eliminate the terrorism represented by Al Nusra and ISIS. Washington was unable to meet the requirements of that involvement for reasons related to the presidential elections on one hand, and because the military department does not lean to cooperate with Russia on the other hand, and because the US intelligence department betted on the choice of chaos which based on adopting the Kurdish state and restricting the war on ISISI as well as managing the movement of ISIS from one area to another.

After the battle of Aleppo, the US presidential elections, and the passage of time, it seemed apparently that America tried to neglect the understanding signed by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry, it moved to send force messages to the Syrian army to revive the armed groups, and to draw red lines that allow the movement of ISIS from Raqqa towards Palmyra, Badia, and Deir Al Zour and allow having control over the Syrian-Iraqi borders by the groups affiliated to Washington, despite the clarity of what will be as tension with Moscow on one hand, and with Turkey on the other hand.

After the crystallization of the US plan and adopting it practically, there were features of Syrian encirclement that embraces the US plan and allures it. It seemed that Russia and Iran support strongly the Syrian plan. The title of the Syrian plan is the avoidance of the direct confrontation with the Americans along with non-compliance with their red lines. The encirclement will be able to disable the US plan, and it will get narrow gradually from the fronts of the northeast of Aleppo, Palmyra, and the Syrian-Iraqi borders to drop the theory of the rolling of ISISI and restricting the final battle with ISIS in Deir Al Zour. The Syrians along with the Russian fiery support, an Iranian fighting participation and an active presence of Hezbollah advance rapidly in Badia, they have control over what is equal three times of Lebanon’s area. They progressed towards Raqqa and had control over more than one thousand kilometers of the area of the province; they moved along the Euphrates towards Deir Al Zour and progressed from Palmyra towards Sokhna towards Deir Al Zour. They moved to meet the Popular Crowd across the borders do not care about the expected US fire, till the borders line became resolved by facts where ISIS, the Kurds and the Americans were confined by the Syrian army which deploys along the Euphrates River, closing Badia and restricting the battle in the northern of the River.

The progress of Mosul’s battles after closing the western passages of withdrawal in front of ISIS as Raqqa, and the closing of the southern passages of withdrawal made Deir Al Zour the decisive battle in Syria and Iraq, it is a battle where the Syrian army confines the Americans who cannot get out but only by getting out of the battle with ISIS, but they do not bear that, so the only way in front of them is to cooperate with the Syrian army as unavoidable condition to win the war on ISIS and in order to say that Washington played a crucial role in the victory over the terrorism.

The Syrian encirclement is winning over the US red line, and what was refused by the Americans a year ago, its minimum will be accepted by them before the end of the year.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

خطة واشنطن للفوضى والقفص السوري

 

يونيو 17, 2017

– منذ ما قبل معركة حلب كانت موسكو قد فتحت الأبواب للتشارك مع واشنطن في سياق سياسي يتفادَى الحول العسكرية ويكرس التعاون المشترك للقضاء على الإرهاب، ممثلا بالنصرة وداعش، وقد عجزت واشنطن عن تلبية متطلبات هذا الانخراط لأسباب تتصل بالانتخابات الرئاسية من جهة، ولميل المؤسسة العسكرية لعدم التعاون مع روسيا من جهة أخرى، ولرهان المؤسسة الاستخبارية الأميركية على خيار الفوضى القائم أصلاً على تبني الحالة الكردية وحصر الحرب على داعش بها وإدارة تدحرج داعش من منطقة إلى منطقة.

– بعد معركة حلب والانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية ومرور بعض الوقت بدا الاتجاه الأميركي واضحاً بطي الصفحة على التفاهم الذي وقعه وزيرا الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف والأميركي جون كيري، والسير باتجاه رسائل القوة نحو الجيش السوري لإنعاش الجماعات المسلحة ورسم خطوط حمراء تتيح تنقل داعش من الرقة نحو تدمر والبادية ودير الزور وتسمح للجماعات المحسوبة على واشنطن بإمساك الحدود السورية العراقية، رغم وضوح ما سيترتب على كل ذلك من توتر مع موسكو من جهة ومع تركيا من جهة أخرى.

– بعد تبلور الخطة الأميركية والسير فيها عملياً، برزت ملامح قفص سوري يحيط بالخطة الأميركية ويستدرجها إلى داخله، وبدا بقوة أن روسيا وإيران تقفان بقوة وراء الخطة السورية، وعنوان الخطة السورية تفادي المواجهة المباشرة مع الأميركيين مع عدم التقيّد بخطوطهم الحمراء، فالقفص سيتكفل بإبطال الخطة الأميركية، والقفص يضيق تدريجياً من جهات شمال شرق حلب وتدمر والحدود السورية العراقية لإسقاط نظرية تدحرج داعش وحصر المعركة النهائية مع التنظيم في دير الزور، وسار السوريون ومعهم دعم ناري روسي ومشاركة قتالية إيرانية وحضور فاعل لحزب الله، للتقدم السريع في البادية فسيطروا على ما يعادل ثلاث مرات مساحة لبنان، وتقدّموا نحو الرقة وسيطروا على أكثر من ألف كلم مربع من مساحة المحافظة وساروا مع مجرى الفرات نحو دير الزور وتقدّموا من تدمر نحو السخنة باتجاه دير الزور حتى صاروا على مرمى حجر منها، واتجهوا لملاقاة الحشد الشعبي عبر الحدود غير آبهين بالنيران الأميركية المتوقّعة، حتى صار خط الحدود محسوماً بالوقائع ومثله القفص الذي يحتوي قوات داعش والأكراد والأميركيين، بقوس ينتشر عليه الجيش السوري مع مجرى نهر الفرات يغلق البادية ويحصر المعركة شمال النهر.

– تقدّم معارك الموصل بعد إغلاق محاور الانسحاب غرباً أمام داعش ومثله الرقة وإغلاق ممرات الانسحاب جنوباً يجعلان دير الزور المعركة الفاصلة في سورية والعراق، وهي معركة يضعها الجيش السوري وحلفاؤه في قفص لا يملك الأميركيون الخروج منه إلا بالخروج من المعركة مع داعش، وهو ما لا يستطيعونه، حتى صار الباب الوحيد أمامهم السعي للتعاون مع الجيش السوري شرطاً لا مفر منه للفوز بالحرب على داعش والقول إن واشنطن لعبت دوراً حاسماً في الانتصار على الإرهاب.

– القفص السوري ينتصر على الخط الأحمر الأميركي، وما رفضه الأميركيون قبل عام سيرضون بأقل منه قبل نهاية العام.

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“No Kurdish entity in Syria” is the title of the next Astana لا كيان كردي في سورية عنوان أستانة المقبل

“No Kurdish entity in Syria” is the title of the next Astana 

يونيو 7, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The deal disclosed by the Russian Caliber missiles and the declarations of the Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov between ISIS and the armed Kurdish groups through a barter of peaceful handing over of Raqqa in exchange of ensuring secure withdrawal corridors to the Syrian Badia revealed the priority of the formation of a local Kurdish authority in the provinces of Raqqa, Deir Al Zour, and Hasaka according to these Kurdish groups to their belonging to Syrian national auspices, that includes the right of participation in making the form of the new regime and constitution based on the sticking to the unity of the Syrian territories. The threats issued by these groups to the Popular Crowd not to enter the Syrian territories in the provinces of Hasaka and Deir Al Zour even through an understanding with the Syrian state to fight ISIS emphasize this priority on one hand, and the exclusiveness of the US reference in formulating orientations of these groups on the other hand, even at the expense of their Syrian identity and the credibility of the war on ISIS at the same time.

During the war years, the Kurdish armed groups have got a special sponsorship and a distinctive treatment from the Syrian country and from Russia. Despite the special relationship with Washington which was apparent from a long time, the Syrian state did not hesitate to overlook the bloody events which affected it by these groups in the province of Hasaka, on the contrary it tried to protect them in Manbej against the Turkish threat at the moment of the apparent US abandonment, it facilitated opening the road Al Qamishli-Aleppo-Damascus-Beirut, while Russia has waged battles to impose the participation of these groups in the rounds of the negotiation in Geneva despite the absence of the US pressure on its allies to impose the Kurdish component and its presence, till the scandal of the deal with ISIS occurred, so it was as “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

The deal with ISIS at the expense of the war with the organization which took the title of the Kurdish armed formations and the title of the American occupation of part of Syria is bigger than a tactical event or field performance, it is an expression of US strategy that accepted by the Kurds, and which draws the priorities according to the Russian and Syrian reading, it based on the priority of forming Kurdish military economic and political privacy inspired by the experience of Iraqi Kurdistan with which the efforts of the political solution have been disrupted, it expands the war on ISIS by transferring the organization from one place to another through which Washington gets a coverage for its occupation as an associate of a local group that has legitimacy, rights, and privacy. In the north east of Syria there are oil and agricultural wealth and a limited number of populations that will be reduced with the hegemony of one part of the region components. This makes it more attractive to the Americans as an alternative of the failure in having control over all of Syria. The unannounced Kurdish state in Syria is useful for the Americans through its connection with the project of the seeking to expand through other groups to complete having control of the Syrian-Iraqi borders even in a short depth of the Kurdish dominance areas, so what is the need of Washington for a political solution in Syria while the management of chaos seems more useful?

Strategic shifts will result from the Syrian, Russian, and Iranian clarity for what is going on, it is a clarity that seems Turkish as well, so this will make next Astana meeting more important than before with a priority entitled the prevention of turning the Kurdish privacy into a project of targeting the unity of Syria. This is the significance of the speech of the Russian President about the concern of the risks of dividing Syria, as it is the significance of using the strategic caliber missiles to send a message that the matter is a red Russian line.

The equation since Geneva I till Geneva XI was under the title of no political settlement except the priority of the war on terrorism. Today the equation became no credibility of the war on terrorism without sticking to the unity of Syria. As the seeking was for an alliance based on the partnership in the war on terrorism as an entrance for the partnership in the political solution in Syria, the seeking becomes for an alliance based on the sticking to the unity of Syria as a condition for the partnership in the alliance of the war on terrorism and the political solution in Syria, Astana seems a title that indicated to the next task.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

لا كيان كردي في سورية عنوان أستانة المقبل

يونيو 3, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– كشفت الصفقة التي فضحتها صواريخ كاليبر الروسية وتصريحات وزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف بين داعش والجماعات الكردية المسلحة بمقايضة تسليم سلمي للرقة بتأمين ممرات انسحاب آمن منها إلى البادية السورية، أولوية قيام سلطة كردية محلية في محافظات الرقة ودير الزور والحسكة لدى هذه الجماعات الكردية على انضوائها في ظلال وطنية سورية، تتضمّن حق المشاركة في صياغة شكل نظام الحكم والدستور الجديدين من ضمن منظومة التمسّك بوحدة التراب السوري. وجاءت التحذيرات الصادرة عن هذه الجماعات للحشد الشعبي بعدم دخول الأراضي السورية في محافظتي الحسكة ودير الزور ولو من ضمن تفاهم مع الدولة السورية لقتال داعش، تأكيداً على هذه الأولوية من جهة، وعلى حصرية المرجعية الأميركية في صياغة توجّهات هذه الجماعات، ولو على حساب هويتها السورية وصدقية الحرب على داعش في آن واحد.

 – خلال سنوات الحرب حظيت الجماعات الكردية المسلحة برعاية خاصة ومعاملة مميّزة من الدولة السورية ومن روسيا. فرغم العلاقة الخاصة بواشنطن التي بدت ظاهرة منذ زمن غير قصير لم تتردّد الدولة السورية في التغاضي عن أحداث دموية أصابتها على يد هذه الجماعات في محافظة الحسكة، وفتحت الباب لحمايتها في منبج بوجه التهديد التركي في لحظة تخلٍّ أميركي بائن، وسهّلت فتح طريق القامشلي حلب دمشق بيروت بالتنسيق معها، بينما حرصت روسيا على خوض معارك فرض مشاركة هذه الجماعات في جولات التفاوض في جنيف، رغم الغياب الأميركي عن ساحة الضغط على حلفائها لفرض المكوّن الكردي وحضوره، حتى وقعت فضيحة الصفقة مع داعش فكانت القشة التي قصمت ظهر البعير.

 – الصفقة مع داعش على حساب الحرب مع التنظيم المتخذ عنواناً للتشكيلات الكردية المسلحة وللاحتلال الأميركي لجزء من سورية، أكبر من حدث تكتيكي أو ممارسة ميدانية، بل هو تعبير عن استراتيجية أميركية يرتضيها الأكراد ترسم الأولويات وفق القراءة الروسية والسورية، تقوم على أولوية نشوء خصوصية كردية عسكرية اقتصادية سياسية تستوحي تجربة كردستان العراق، تعطّل معها مساعي الحلّ السياسي، وتمدّد لحسابها الحرب على داعش بنقل التنظيم من بقعة إلى بقعة، وتحصل خلالها واشنطن على تغطية احتلالها بصفتها معاوناً لجماعة محلية ذات مشروعية وحقوق وخصوصية، وفي الشمال الشرقي لسورية ثروات نفطية وزراعية وعدد محدود من السكان سينقص أكثر مع هيمنة لون واحد من مكونات المنطقة على سائر الألوان، ما يجعلها أشدّ إغراء للأميركي كبديل عن الفشل في الإمساك بكلّ سورية. فالدويلة الكردية غير المعلنة هي سورية المفيدة بنظر الأميركيين، بالتواصل مع مشروع السعي للتمدّد بجماعات أخرى لإكمال الإمساك بالحدود السورية العراقية، ولو بشريط رقيق يستند عمقه لمناطق السيطرة الكردية، وعندها ما حاجة واشنطن لحلّ سياسي في سورية، بينما تبدو إدارة الفوضى أشدّ فائدة؟

– تحوّلات استراتيجية سينتجها الوضوح السوري والروسي والإيراني لما يجري، وهو وضوح يبدو أنه تركي أيضاً، ما سيجعل لقاء أستانة المقبل أشدّ أهمية من قبل لأولوية سيصير عنوانها منع تحوّل الخصوصية الكردية إلى مشروع استهداف لوحدة سورية. وهذا مغزى كلام الرئيس الروسي عن القلق من أخطار لتقسيم سورية، كما هو مغزى استخدام صواريخ كاليبر الاستراتيجية لإيصال رسالة مفادها، أنّ الأمر خط روسي أحمر.

– كانت المعادلة منذ جنيف 1 حتى جنيف 6 تدور تحت عنوان لا تسوية سياسية إلا بأولوية الحرب على الإرهاب. واليوم يبدو أنّ المعادلة صارت لا صدقية للحرب على الإرهاب بلا تمسّك بوحدة سورية. ومثلما كان السعي لحلف قوامه الشراكة في الحرب على الإرهاب كمدخل للشراكة في الحلّ السياسي في سورية، سيصير السعي لحلف قوامه التمسك بوحدة سورية شرطاً للشراكة في حلف الحرب على الإرهاب والحلّ السياسي في سورية، وتبدو أستانة عنواناً يرمز للمهمّة المقبلة.

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In pictures: Iraqi Army captures over a dozen ISIS car bombs in west Mosul

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:50 P.M.) – ISIS appears to be running low on volunteer suicide bombers in Mosul after the Iraqi Federal Police captured a large car bomb factory in the newly liberated ’17th Tammuz’ district of northwestern Mosul.

Upon discovery of over a dozen ready-made fortified car bombs, these were hastily transferred to rearguard positions for immediate destruction to avoid any complications following a potential ISIS-counter attack:

Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News
Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News
Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News

Prior to Mosul’s encirclement late last year, ISIS withdrew all its armored vehicles and tanks to Syria; instead, Islamic State commanders have relied heavily on modified civilian cars to function as deadly mobile bombs.
Due to recent advances, the Islamic State controls just three neighborhoods anchored on the western part of the Tigris River.

Meanwhile the Counter Terrorism Units, 9th and 15th divisions have been relieved of their duties in Iraq’s second largest city, rendering the final counter-insurgency operations to the Iraqi Federal Police and Rapid Response Division to deal with.

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The US-Iran Tussle over Iraq

The US-Iran Tussle over Iraq

Darko Lazar

Iraq has always been central to Washington’s pursuit of the ‘new Middle East’.

In a frantic search for alternatives, following the realization that the toppling of the Damascus government was no longer a realistic objective, Iraq has become even more important. Washington desperately needs to cut Iran off from Syria, and the road from Tehran to Damascus runs through Baghdad.

Speculation over the future of Iraq is coming into sharper focus with the approaching demise of the Daesh terror group.

The most advanced terrorist organization in history has played its part in reshaping the region. Now, the time has come to build the ‘new Middle East’ out of the ashes.

In this context, one of the more commonly asked questions is whether Iraq can be preserved as a unified state, or what Baghdad’s future foreign policy will look like.

In an effort to answer such questions, analysts are increasingly looking at Iraq as a battleground between the US and Iran – the two countries that wield the most influence among Baghdad’s political elites and Iraq’s military formations.

Severing the resistance axis

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Barack Obama pulled US troops out of Iraq in 2011. But the Americans made sure to leave behind a country devastated, and divided along sectarian lines. What’s more, Washington essentially set the stage for the creation of an entity that would morph into one that more resembles a state than a conventional terror group.

Thanks to Daesh, the Americans were quickly back in Iraq. By 2014, the number of US forces began to rise rapidly, currently estimated to be at just over 5,000 soldiers.

With billions invested in the sideshow operation against Daesh, the Americans needed boots on the ground in order to be able to exert their influence. Without military bases on Iraqi soil, Washington would be unable to challenge the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). These are better armed, trained and more motivated than any of the regular army formations, which are propped up by the US.

Naturally, after saving Baghdad from falling into the hands of Daesh, Tehran cannot afford to be indifferent about US regional ambitions, which are compatible with regimes supportive of terrorist groups, namely Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

The Iranians are equally mindful of agendas seeking to sever the resistance axis, which runs from Tehran to the Mediterranean.

These schemes also involve the possible opening of a new front in Syria’s remote southeastern desert, near the borders with Iraq and Jordan.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon ordered US fighter jets to strike a pro-Damascus militia heading towards the border town of al-Tanf. The attack comes just days after satellite images exposed a major US-Jordanian military build up along the border.

In fact, eastern Syria is a key strategic point in Damascus’ struggle to regain lost territory and keep an open frontier with Iraq and, by extension, toward Iran.

This is one of the main reasons why the Syrians and their allies have fought so hard to defend the biggest city in the east, Deir ez-Zor, which has recently come under a fresh wave of attacks, as the battles for Mosul and Raqqa have intensified.

Aside from American operations in Syria, Iran’s national security interests are threatened by pressures on Baghdad, and the prospects of US military bases right on the country’s doorstep.

The Trump administration has already started courting Iraqi Premier Haidar al-Abadi. Washington is lobbying for the Iraqi leader to sign off on a permanent American military presence in his country, as well as the construction of additional US bases.

According to Sheikh Qais al-Khazali, who heads the League of the Righteous – a faction under the PMU umbrella – “The US aims to strengthen its influence in the areas west of Iraq and east of Syria and to start the partition project.”

Al-Abadi is reportedly being pushed into a treaty that resembles the so-called ‘bilateral security agreement’ between the US and Afghanistan, which permitted nearly 10,000 American troops to remain in that country, after the international combat mission formally ended in 2014.

The American initiative, designed to undermine Iran’s regional influence, also calls for bringing Baghdad closer to the government in Riyadh.

Political scientist Mohammed Naanaa believes that this puts al-Abadi in an awkward position.

“Abadi will try to convince Iraq’s Shiite parties that he has taken the position of mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran to maintain American support, which is the role he can actually play. Abadi cannot afford to turn his back on Tehran or lose US support,” Naanaa said.

The Iranian response

Tehran recently appointed a new envoy to Baghdad. Iraj Masjedi is a brigadier general from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and had previously worked as an adviser for the Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani.

Upon taking up his post, Masjedi stated, “Iran wants an advanced, powerful, secure and unified Iraq.”

Meanwhile, General Soleimani reportedly applauded the appointment of Moustafa al-Kazemi as the head of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS), during the summer of last year.

Al-Kazemi is widely seen as an ally of Tehran, and his rise to the top of Iraq’s intelligence apparatus is appreciated significantly more by the Iranians than the Americans.

While the US remains obsessed with shaping the Iraqi army in a way that adheres to its aspirations, Iranian cooperation with Baghdad revolves primarily around the PMU – modeled on the Revolutionary Guards, and now an official component of Iraq’s security forces.

Following the PMU’s successes on the battlefield, the military formation has gained the status of both a respected and feared adversary. It now has the potential to be transformed into a major political force in a country that it helped to liberate.

For the Iranians, whose two main strategic objectives in Iraq include keeping American troops away from the Iranian border and defending Shiite bastions like Najaf and Karbala, this is a very welcome outcome in the battle against Daesh.

What happens to Iraq?

Amid joy and relief over the imminent defeat of Daesh, Iraqis are increasingly anxious over what the future holds.

The defeat of Daesh in Mosul in no way spells the end of Wahabi-fueled terrorism across Iraq, and American efforts to undercut Tehran’s alliance with Baghdad can only spell more trouble.

Although the US is likely to attempt to expand its military presence across western Iraq and eastern Syria in the hope of pressuring the resistance axis, this is unlikely to threaten the future of the Iraqi state.

Instead, Washington reserves the option of manipulating the Kurdish issue. If Erbil gets the green light from the Americans to secede from Iraq, Baghdad can do absolutely nothing to stop it.

As such, Abadi has to walk a fine line, fostering good relations with the Trump White House, while maintaining the strategic partnership with Tehran. And if that wasn’t tough enough, the Iraqis will also be expected to normalize ties with the Saudis, the puppet masters behind Daesh.

Source: Al-Ahed news

20-05-2017 | 13:46

Despite US airstrikes S A A reinforcements pour into the Syrian desert as Iraqi Army breaks apart tiny ISIS pocket in Mosul

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:15 A.M.) – On Thursday evening, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) sent over a dozen technicals to the Damascus-Baghdad highway to reinforce contingents bombed by the United States Air Force earlier in the day.

The newly arrived SAA reinforcements will spearhead a drive towards the Al-Tanf border crossing with Iraq alongside the National Defence Forces (NDF), Hezbollah (Lebanese paramilitary), Imam Al-Ali Battalions (Iraqi paramilitary) and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (Syrian paramilitary).

However, government forces must stiffen their salient east of Damascus and deploy anti-aircraft units if they are to avoid renewed attacks from US jets and US-trained Free Syrian Army proxies lurking in the vast Syrian desert.

Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News
Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News

Meanwhile, SAA units are also advancing against FSA rebels in eastern Sweida, capturing a large swath of rural territory on Thursday.Over 100 SAA soldiers have been killed by US airstrikes, mostly at Deir Ezzor, over the 12 months. Nevertheless, the SAA is yet to conduct a single direct hostility against US troops whom are present in both northern and southern Syria despite vocal objections from Damascus.

Iraqi Army breaks apart tiny ISIS pocket in Mosul as battle enters final stage

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:45 A.M.) – The Iraqi Armed Forces are moving ever closer to complete victory in the country’s second largest city after government troops spearheaded new key advancements on the western bank of the Tigris River on Thursday.

After liberating four neighborhoods earlier in the week, the Iraqi Army continued its blitz offensive by taking control of the Al-Rafaee district around noon.

Then, on Thursday afternoon, the Counter Terrorism Units began storming the Al-Najar neighborhood parallel to the Tigris River, thereby isolating the Old City and Al-Zanjali districts from a handful of ISIS-held suburbs to the north.

Should the Iraqi Armed Forces seize control of the Al-Najar neighborhood entirely, they would secure Mosul’s northern 5th bridge and deal a devastating blow to ISIS insurgents.

However, Iraqi contingents did not stop there as the Federal Police and Rapid Response Division proceeded to liberate the adjacent Al-Aqtasadeen neighborhood, an urban advance which reduced Islamic State control of Mosul city to less than 5%.

In addition, Iraqi troops liberated the ancient Christian monastery in the historically Assyrian Hawi Al-Kanisah area in northwestern Mosul and capture most of the vital ’17th Tammuz’ district.

Around 500 ISIS militants remain held up in the city, most of which are concentrated around the densely populated Old City neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Amaq Agency published a 40-minute Islamic State propaganda video depicting the battle for Mosul from the jihadist perspective.

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:50 A.M.) – On Thursday, Iraqi Army continued its large-scale operation in Mosul city striking the positions of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) in Sabat Ashar Tammuz neighbourhood.

In the meantime, government forces continue evacuation of civilian population from the aforementioned district.

Video footage below shows Iraqi soldiers helping civilians get to safety, covering them from sniper fire and shelling:

Iraqi forces gradually close in on the last IS positions in Mosul’s Old City, with around 12 square kilometres of territory remaining under jihadist control. According to senior military officials, Mosul is expected to be completely recaptured prior to the beginning of holy month of Ramadan on May 27.

The large-scale military operation to liberate Mosul from IS began on October 17, 2016, with joint forces of Iraqi Army, Popular Mobilization Units, Kurdish Peshmerga and US-led coalition storming the city from several directions.

U.S.-Led Coalition Strikes Hit Syrian Army in Southern Syria

A US-led coalition spokesperson has confirmed that coalition strikes in southern Syria struck pro-Syrian government forces, BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday. Later, a US defense official confirmed the information to Sputnik.

The coalition strikes reportedly occurred near At Tanf town, where US’ and British special operations forces have been training Syrian rebel fighters (mercenary-terrorists) near the border with Iraq and Jordan.

A US defense official told Sputnik that the US-led coalition struck the pro-Assad fighters near the town of At Tanf in the area of an established deconflication zone with Russia.

According to the media outlet, US officials explain the strikes as “force protection” for the US Special Forces based in the area. Reuters cited a US official as saying that the strikes occurred after “warning shots by U.S. aircraft meant to disuade the [Syrian army’s] fighters.”

It is unclear yet whether the strikes have killed any Syrian soldiers or pro-government militia fighters as there has been no official comment from Damascus so far. The Pentagon has released no official statement as well.

According to a BuzzFeed News reporter, Syrian rebels based with the US Special Forces in the area said that militia supporting the Syrian army has been nearby as well.

“We notified the coalition that we were being attacked by the Syrian army and Iranians in this point and the coalition came and destroyed the advancing convoy,” the Pentagon-backed rebel (mercenary-terrorist) group called the Maghawir al Thwra told Reuters.

“A convoy going down the road didn’t respond to numerous ways for it to be warned off from getting too close to coalition forces in At-Tanf,” an unnamed official told AFP.

On Monday, Al-Masdr News reported that Syrian Arab Army soldiers along and militias affiliated with the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units are preparing to recapture the nearby Tanf Border crossing from Daesh.

Media reports suggested that Syrian rebels (mercenary-terrorists) have voiced concerns over the Syrian army getting “too close” to the US Special Forces’ base in At Tanf.

In April, Daesh terrorists attempted to take the US base near At Tanf in which three US-backed Syrian rebels were killed.

This was not the first time the US-led coalition intentionally or accidentally struck the Syrian army fighting against Daesh.

In the early hours of April 7, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city of Homs. US President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Idlib, which Washington blames on the Syrian government.

On September 17, 2016, US-led coalition aircraft carried out four strikes against the Syrian army near the Deir ez-Zor airport, killing 62 soldiers and wounding some 100. The Pentagon said that the airstrike was a mistake and was intended to target Daesh militants, while a number of Syrian officials stated that the attack was intentional. Later, the Pentagon released a report claiming that the US-led coalition’s forces struck the Syrian army in Deir ez-Zor as a result of an “unintentional, regrettable error.”

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.003003&lon=38.430176&z=7&m=bs

click on map to enlarge ~ here for the original link


SOURCES:
SputnikNews
Submitted by SyrianPatriots
War Press Info Network at:
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/usa-strikes/
~

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Breaking: Iraqi forces liberate strategic airbase in west Mosul

 BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 P.M.) – The pro-government Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd Al-Sha’abi) continued their Al-Qaiwaran offensive, Thursday, targeting the strategic Sahel Sinjar Airbase that was under the control of the Islamic State (ISIL) forces.

Within hours of launching their assault, the Popular Mobilization Forces asserted full control over the Sahel Sinjar Airbase, forcing the remaining Islamic State terrorists in the area to retreat northeast.

The capture of the Sahel Sinjar Airbase, today, puts the Iraqi forces in position to liberate the remaining territory in Al-Qairawan that is still under the control of the Islamic State terrorists.

Al-Qairawan is incredibly important to the Iraqi Armed Forces because of its proximity to the Islamic State stronghold of Tal ‘Afar, which is located near both Mosul and the Syrian border-crossing into Al-Hasakah.

Iraqi militia teams up with Iraqi Airforce in advance against ISIS towards Syrian border

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:28 PM) – The Iraqi pro-government forces of the militia Al-Nujaba have reportedly made new gains against the Islamic State (ISIS), as they took control over several villages in Iraqs border region, moving towards Syria.

While the Iraqi Ground Forces are currently securing the last pockets of the Islamic state in the latters former bastion Mosul in north Iraq, the forces of Al-Nujaba already aim to push ISIS out of the northwestern parts of the country.

Reports claim, that in their latest advances towards Al-Qaywaran the pro-gouvernment forces were able to liberate 4 villages. With those under their control, the first phase of this operation, whith the ultimate goal of freeing Al-Qaywaran, is completed.

With Al-Qaywaran still some 17 km away, the next step in their efforts, will be for the militia to seize control of the Thura airbase and Al-Ba´aj from the Islamic State. If they succeed, they will have layed the ground to finally claim back the important town of Al-Qaywaran from the terrorist group.

In addition the Iraqi Airforce took it’s bite from ISIS forces. The Iraqi AirForce Command confirmed that around 50 fighters of the Islamic state have been killed in a row of airstrikes on six different local headquartes of the Islamic state in Iraq. The headquarters were located in the regions of Tal Afar, Al Ba´aj and Qaywaran.

With the last days of the Islamic State in Mosul counted, Iraq also seeks to secure it’s border with Syria. This would further impede formers already crippled economy, which heavily relies on smuggling through the various porous borders of the region.

 

Video: Mosul Battle Report. Retreat of ISIS, Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Pushing towards Border with Syria

Global Research, May 17, 2017
South Front 16 May 2017

Iraqi security forces (ISF) have continued putting pressure on ISIS terrorists in the western part of the Iraqi city of Mosul. Recently, ISF troops have recaptured the 17 Tamouz district, the Al-Aurabi district, and further advanced against ISIS in the Al-Rafaee and Old Mosul areas. Some 49 ISIS terrorists were killed and 4 SVBIEDs destroyed during the clashes. According to the Iraqi military, ISIS controls only 9% of the city of Mosul.

The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have liberated a notable number of villages from ISIS terrorists in the area southwest of Mosul. PMU fighters took control of Khilo, Tal Qassab, Karkash, Sultan, Tal sheik, Kabar, and other villages near the town of Qayrawan.

https://southfront.org/wp-content/plugins/fwduvp/content/video.php?path=https%3A%2F%2Fsouthfront.org%2Fmosul-battle-report-may-16-2017-pmu-pushing-to-border-with-syria%2F&pid=889

Earlier this month, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Deputy Commander of the PMU, announced that the PMU is seeing the Syrian-Iraqi border as a strategic objective of their military operations against ISIS. Al-Muhandis pointed out that forces of the PMU will enter the Syrian territory only in case of full coordination between the Syrian and Iraqi governments, and confirmed the existence of official channels with the Syrian government in case of the PMU need to do this.

Thus, the PMU advance in the Qayrawan area could be seen as a preparation to further push to the Syrian border that will likely be synchronized with the Syrian military’s efforts in it’s own territory.

On Monday, reports appeared that Syrian government forces started a military operation against US-backed militant groups in the eastern Sweida countryside. According to pro-government sources, the goal of the Syrian forces effort is the al-Tanaf border crossing.

Some sources indicate that the PMU and the Syrian military may privately coordinate efforts in order to prevent the progress of Western-backed militant groups along the Syrian border.

About 150 servicemen of the US and UK special operations forces entered southern Syria in order to support a ‘rebel advance’ against ISIS in the area.

On Monday, Jaysh Mughawyr Al-Thurah, backed by the US and UK special operation forces, was in about 90km east of the government-held city of Palmyra in the province of Homs. Militants were advancing in the northwestern direction along the Syrian-Iraqi border.

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