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Syrian Civil War: December 2015

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  • Syrian Civil War: December 2015

    From another thread:
    Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
    He asked how many cities were liberated from IS rule.
    I provided the answer, to the best of my knowledge.
    Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
    Maybe it is time for someone to post a current map?
    I will try to provide info for both as soon as my morning double-espresso kicks in.


  • #2
    Preamble. The main fighting right now involving Syrian government forces is taking place on four fronts.
    1. Kuweires airport/East Aleppo area
    2. South Aleppo area
    3. Latakian highlands near the Turkish border
    4. Mheen/al-Quraytayn/Palmyra

    Fighting continues on other fronts as well, for instance East Gouta/East Damascus, Dar'aa/south of Damascus, and the area north of Homs, but these sectors have basically taken a back seat.

    Furthermore, despite claims to the contrary, the Syrian regime has actually not been targeting the moderate Syrian opposition all that much. The moderates, including various factions of the FSA, are primarily located in the south, in the area south/south-west and west of Damascus. In this area there have been several cease-fire agreements with various moderate factions, and just yesterday some 180 rebels voluntarily surrendered along with their equipment. At Homs, the rebels agreed to a truce and are voluntarily vacating the last part of the city still in their hands - the district of al-Waer. A similar agreement with moderate factions also took place at al-Zabadani, NW of Damascus a month or two ago. The vast majority of Syrian attacks in the past month or two, with Russian air support, have begin against ISIS and the various Jihadi-Islamist factions: Ahrar ash-Sham, al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam, and the Army of Conquest.

    Comment


    • #3
      Situation map for Kuweires airport/East Aleppo and South Aleppo sectors.
      Red arrows: Syrian government advances
      Black arrow: ISIS counter-attack (2 weeks ago)
      Red dotted line: initial front line per entry of Russian air support
      Pink area: area now controlled by government forces


      Comment


      • #4
        1. Kuweires airport/East Aleppo area



        I'm not a cartographer, so you'll have to deal with these less than optimum maps. The black smudge lines represent the front line at the start of operations with Russian air support. The red line = the current front line.

        The main developments in this sector have been:
        1. The Syrian government forces have lifted the 3 year ISIS siege of Kuweires airport - the lonely looking black polygon.
        2. Highway Number 4 - the main supply road for ISIS forces directly east of Aleppo has been interdicted.
        3. One of four main roads connecting the ISIS capital of Raqqah with Turkey has been cut east of the airport.

        ISIS launched a major counter-attack some 2 or 3 weeks ago trying to cut the main Syrian supply line leading to this sector and did in fact cut the highway further south near Kanaser and mined the road. All ISIS gains however were lost after a few days. During the Syrian advance in this sector, the Syrian army has captured some 30 towns and villages from ISIS. Furthermore, they are now in a position to strike directly E, using the Kuweires airport as a forward air base, in order to cut the neck of land between Lake Jaboul (directly south of the airfield) and Lake Assad - 30km away. Doing so would cut all land communications between the ISIS capital and Turkey. Hence, ISIS has repeatedly thrown reinforcements into this area.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Skoblin View Post
          Situation map for Kuweires airport/East Aleppo and South Aleppo sectors.
          Red arrows: Syrian government advances
          Black arrow: ISIS counter-attack (2 weeks ago)
          Red dotted line: initial front line per entry of Russian air support
          Pink area: area now controlled by government forces

          That map is a good example of just how much of a mess this whole thing is. Also the first thing I think when looking at it is how precarious some of the SAA's positions look. I know that they're on the offensive right now bit those are some pretty nasty and vulnerable looking salients. Maybe IS and the other rebels don't have the mobility to seriously threaten them but some seem like pockets waiting to happen. I'd be interested to hear someones opinion on this whose been following the operational details more closely than I have.
          "Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl." - Frederick the Great

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          • #6
            Originally posted by frisco17 View Post
            That map is a good example of just how much of a mess this whole thing is. Also the first thing I think when looking at it is how precarious some of the SAA's positions look. I know that they're on the offensive right now bit those are some pretty nasty and vulnerable looking salients. Maybe IS and the other rebels don't have the mobility to seriously threaten them but some seem like pockets waiting to happen. I'd be interested to hear someones opinion on this whose been following the operational details more closely than I have.
            It is true that the main problem for the Syrian army is that they are strung out along a wide ranging front with numerous salients, extended and precarious supply lines and a plethora of internal rebel-held enclaves. This more than anything explains why it is impossible for them to focus solely on ISIS. However, the strategy they are pursuing now is not only logical, it is also likely the only feasible one. The main thing the Syrians have going for them now is Russian air support. Any major ISIS or Jihadi/Islamist attack will involve the latter having to leave their prepared positions and essentially advance over wide open terrain. With Russian Su-24's and helicopter gunships available at short notice, any such attack is destined to be decimated. As a result, the Syrian military seems to have stripped most fronts to a bare minimum to hold current positions, while shifting forces from sector to sector to achieve local superiority and carrying out attacks until the opposition starts shifting their own forces to counter them. Then they halt and shift their forces to a new sector. It is slow, tedious process essentially capturing one town or village at a time or, in the case of the Latakia sector, one hilltop after another on sequential sectors. Their main focus right now seems to be relieving and linking up with all those government-defended enclaves that have been cut off. Hence, relieving Kuweires airport east of Aleppo. The offensive south of Aleppo is apparently aimed at eventually relieving the Syrian Shia towns of Fou'aa and Kafraya, which are located just north of Idlib. In the process, they are cutting the lines of communication for both the ISIS and the Jihadi/Islamist forces located in northern Syria. They are also apparently collecting forces to capture al-Quraytayn in central Syria to cut the supply lines connecting the ISIS capital to the latter's forces operating east of Damascus. Otherwise, they have more or less ignored all the existing surrounded rebel enclaves (north of Homs and various places around Damascus) knowing that these lack the means for offensive operations. The "grand plan" that some are talking about is that the forces operating south of Aleppo and those in the al-Ghab valley on the eastern edge of the Latakian highlands will link up near Idlib, effectively cutting off the bulk of the al-Nusra, ash-Shram and Army of Conquest forces in the area between Aleppo and Hamah. This may require another map to explain.

            Comment


            • #7
              What's the scale?

              Are those expansions in miles, yards, what?
              Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                What's the scale?

                Are those expansions in miles, yards, what?
                On both the Kuweires and south Aleppo sectors the Syrian army has more or less advanced around 25 km. The problem is the terrain. It is essentially consists of village - field - village - hill - town - village - field - town, one after the other. Barely a kilometer between each town and village. Every village in turn has been more or less been transformed into an easily defendable ruin involving street-fighting in order to be captured. It is not a terrain for swift advances

                Last edited by Skoblin; 08 Dec 15, 09:15.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Skoblin View Post
                  The offensive south of Aleppo is apparently aimed at eventually relieving the Syrian Shia towns of Fou'aa and Kafraya, which are located just north of Idlib. In the process, they are cutting the lines of communication for.. the Jihadi/Islamist forces located in northern Syria.
                  Here is a another view of the area south of Aleppo - thick black line being the initial jumping off position for the present offensive.



                  The Syrian military is presently assaulting the town of Zerbeh (yellow arrow). If successful, they will have cut the main communication line between the ash-Shram/al-Nusra forces operating around Aleppo and those further south at Hamah. Hence, last week, al-Nusra/ash-Shram suspended their attacks north of Hamah in order to shift several thousand fighters to this sector to prevent the highway being cut. In the process they recaptured about half a dozen towns and villages. However, all but one village has been recaptured by the Syrian forces over the past two days. The distance from Al-Eis, located just east of the M5 highway, to the embattled Shia villages of al-Fu'ah (Fu'aa) and Kafraya on the left-hand edge of the map, is about 25 kilometers. In other words, the Syrian forces have now advanced half the distance to the Syrian/Shia forces encircled at these two towns. A successful operation in relieving these towns will involve cutting both the M5 and No. 60 highways, effectively severing communications between Islamist/Jihadis forces operating in northern and central Syria.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As per the post above - this morning the Syrian army captured the above-mentioned town of Zerbeh and are now attempting to seize a portion of the M5 highway to the West. In addition, during the great ACG outage, the Jihadis/Islamists launched several heavy counterattacks along the western and southern boundaries of the area captured by the Syrian army during its offensive in this area. All attacked were repulsed and several more towns were captured by the SAA along the southern boundary. Next targets are likely al-Barfoum and Qammari, located SW of Zerbeh.

                    Last edited by Skoblin; 16 Dec 15, 04:33.

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                    • #11
                      Significant SAA advances in the north Latakia theater today, with the SAA establishing control over a number of strategic locations and hill-tops including Kadin, al-Kawm, Mugariyah, Kafariyah, Jebel an-Nuba, and Apa. In the process, the main rebel stronghold at Salma, where fighting has been taking place for over a month, is now surrounded on three sides.

                      Last edited by Skoblin; 16 Dec 15, 05:52.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Skoblin View Post
                        It is true that the main problem for the Syrian army is that they are strung out along a wide ranging front with numerous salients, extended and precarious supply lines and a plethora of internal rebel-held enclaves. This more than anything explains why it is impossible for them to focus solely on ISIS. However, the strategy they are pursuing now is not only logical, it is also likely the only feasible one. The main thing the Syrians have going for them now is Russian air support. Any major ISIS or Jihadi/Islamist attack will involve the latter having to leave their prepared positions and essentially advance over wide open terrain. With Russian Su-24's and helicopter gunships available at short notice, any such attack is destined to be decimated. As a result, the Syrian military seems to have stripped most fronts to a bare minimum to hold current positions, while shifting forces from sector to sector to achieve local superiority and carrying out attacks until the opposition starts shifting their own forces to counter them. Then they halt and shift their forces to a new sector. It is slow, tedious process essentially capturing one town or village at a time or, in the case of the Latakia sector, one hilltop after another on sequential sectors. Their main focus right now seems to be relieving and linking up with all those government-defended enclaves that have been cut off. Hence, relieving Kuweires airport east of Aleppo. The offensive south of Aleppo is apparently aimed at eventually relieving the Syrian Shia towns of Fou'aa and Kafraya, which are located just north of Idlib. In the process, they are cutting the lines of communication for both the ISIS and the Jihadi/Islamist forces located in northern Syria. They are also apparently collecting forces to capture al-Quraytayn in central Syria to cut the supply lines connecting the ISIS capital to the latter's forces operating east of Damascus. Otherwise, they have more or less ignored all the existing surrounded rebel enclaves (north of Homs and various places around Damascus) knowing that these lack the means for offensive operations. The "grand plan" that some are talking about is that the forces operating south of Aleppo and those in the al-Ghab valley on the eastern edge of the Latakian highlands will link up near Idlib, effectively cutting off the bulk of the al-Nusra, ash-Shram and Army of Conquest forces in the area between Aleppo and Hamah. This may require another map to explain.
                        Nice, succinct explanation. Unless Russia or someone else is going to give them significant numbers of ground troops, this strategy seems sound.

                        If you don't mind me asking, did you work as military professional, doing tactical or strategic planning?
                        Ne Obliviscaris, Sans Peur

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Regarding the question: 'how many cities/towns' were liberated by Syrian regime troops from the Daesh since the start of Russian intervention?

                          Answer: 0.

                          In words: zero.

                          There are only three battlefields in Syria where 'troops of Syrian regime' are fighting the Daesh:

                          - Dayr az-Zawr: remnants of the 137th Brigade NDF and 104 Brigade RDG are fighting the al-Kheyr Division of the Daesh. No significant changes there. Only the CENTCOM is flying sporadic air strikes against the Daesh in this area: in one case where the Russians tried to do so, their Tu-22M3s have carpet-bombed the 137th Brigade, killing between 3 and 20 regime troops (of course, the regime and Russians rushed to blame the USA for this attack).

                          - The siege of Kweres AB was lifted by a combo of Ba'ath Party Militia and Palestinians of the Liwa al-Qods al-Filistini (from the PFLP-GC). Not a single soldier of the 'Syrian Arab Army' was involved, and Russians did not fly a single close air support sortie in this area.

                          - Palmyra: the NDF launched a show-attack on this Daesh-held town, with some support from Russian Mi-24s. This 'offensive' was over within two days: the Daesh counterattacked at Mahin and overrun the complex of large storage depots there (for the third time in succession). Result: NDF was withdrawn from Palmyra and rushed to Mahin, together with two other brigades, but the Daes is still advancing in this area, and meanwhile approaching the Shayrat AB - the much-announced 'second Russian air base in Syria'.

                          ********

                          The drive into the southern Aleppo province is run by IRGC-QF ('Qods Force'), which has a battlefield headquarters with about 500 own personnel, including a squadron of Ababil and Mohajeer UAVS. This HQ is in control of an equivalent of two small divisions largely consisting of 'brigades' from the Hezbollah/Iraq. The latter are such like the Liwa Zainabioun (1000 Pakistani Shi'a), Liwa al-Haydareyen (2000 IRGC regulars and Basiji), Katayb Hezbollah (2000 Hezbollah/Iraq, equipped with Syrian T-72s and BMP-1s), Katayb Harakat an-Nujaba (2000 Hezbollah/Iraq, equipped with Syrian T-55s and BMP-1s), Liwa Hashd ash-Sha'abi (1000 Hezbollah/Iraq, motorized infantry).

                          Another such asset under IRGC control is Liwa Fatimioun (2000 Afghan Hazaras, infantry), deployed in northern Aleppo.

                          Since yesterday, deployment of an entirely new Hezbollah/Iraq unit - Liwa Assaddollah - to Hama was completed (run by two Russian Il-76s wearing Syrian flags, and three C-130Hs of the IRIAF). Guess, they'll either go to southern Aleppo too, or be spent to bolster crumbling NDF lines in northern Hama (Aleppo is the more likely alternative, because Harakat an-Nujba was mauled by the JAN in Benesh, four days ago, losing at least 80 KIA).

                          While this offensive did 'liberate' one town, there is not a single soldier of the 'SyAA' (i.e. NDF) or any other 'regime' formations involved. And, all the forces the IRGC is facing in this part of Syria are Syrian insurgents, plus the JAN. Therefore, Iranians and their Iraqi 'pilgrims' are not fighting the Daesh there.

                          Ah yes: ex-SyAA tanks are involved, then plenty of its T-72s, T-62s and T-55s from the former 3rd and 11th Division SyAA were handed over to Hezbollah/Iraq.

                          Russians are presently in the process of training Hezbollah/Iraq on a company of T-90 MBTs there. But, the VKS hasn't flown but a single air strike against any of insurgent positions in this area so far.

                          On the contrary, Russian military maps released by the MOD in Moscow do not even show this battlefield (see attachment).
                          Attached Files

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Skoblin View Post
                            It is true that the main problem for the Syrian army is that they are strung out along a wide ranging front with numerous salients...
                            Main problem of the 'Syrian Army' is that it actually doesn't exist.

                            Yes, there are still some of original 'corps HQs', 'divisional HQs', and 'brigade HQs', but these are all in control of a miscellany of NDF battalions.

                            The main thing the Syrians have going for them now is Russian air support.
                            With few exceptions (Mi-24s in Kfar Zita area, in early October; Mi-24s in Palmyra area, in early December), Russians do not provide 'close air support' - neither for 'regime' troops (NDF), nor for any of militias loyal to the regime (BPM, SSNP, PFLP-GC etc.), and even less so to IRGC-run operations.

                            Any major ISIS or Jihadi/Islamist attack will involve the latter having to leave their prepared positions and essentially advance over wide open terrain.
                            I see. So, how do you explain the following: despite about 500 combat sorties by VKS aircraft against FSyA positions in Azaz-corriord flown in period 25 November - 6 December, the FSyA not only repulsed the SDF attack on the western side of Azaz, but also stopped the Daesh onslaught on the eastern side of Azaz.

                            Furthermore, the FSyA then launched a counteroffensive in the west, capturing 12 (predominantly Kurdish) YPG-held villages, and a counteroffensive in the east, liberating 8 villages from the Daesh.

                            During the same time, the JAF coalition has liberate about a dozen of villages in northern Hama too, causing such losses to the 11th Division NDF, that the Russians were forced to deploy two of their motorized battalions behind regime troops (mostly Christians), just to make sure insurgents wouldn't advance on Hama...

                            With Russian Su-24's and helicopter gunships available at short notice...
                            Can you, please, define 'short notice'...?

                            Namely, even Russian sources say the VKS in Syria is operating along daily tasking orders, usually issued 36-48 hours in advance (before the mission is flown). And when it's operating, then only 10% of its sorties are dedicated at least to attacks against such insurgent 'installations' like HQs, depots etc. - most of which were emptied when insurgents realized that the Russians are coming, back in September this year.

                            But foremost: even the little of ammo that's actually dropped on insurgent positions is missing most of the time. Reason: obsolete nav/attack systems on Su-24s and Su-25s, combined with ops at high altitudes (in order to avoid any kind of ground fire), and extensive use of dumb ammo in a country characterised by strong, near permanent north-western wind (this is so permanet, that majority of trees growing anywhere between Jishr ash-Shughour in the north and Homs in the south are growing with an inclination of 30-40 degrees, if not more).

                            Unsurprisingly then, in 4,900 combat sorties the VKS flew since 30 September and today, it only killed 4 insurgent commanders (only one of these from the JAN).

                            It is slow, tedious process essentially capturing one town or village at a time or, in the case of the Latakia sector, one hilltop after another on sequential sectors.
                            Ho-hum... let's study the ops in north-eastern Lattakia slightly closely. This is of particular interest, then these are run by battlefield-command staff of the 58th Russian Army.

                            The regime deployed the 1st Armoured Brigade (also known as Coastal Shield Force), an Alawites-only NDF unit, and the SSNP's Liwa Nussr az-Zawbaa on the western side, and the 4th Armoured Division on al-Ghab Plain.

                            The offensive began back in early October with the 4th advancing along the al-Ghab plain, coming under murderous fire from insurgents positioned high on the peaks on their western side, or on the low hills on their eastern side. What a surprise, somebody there in the HQ of the 58th Army forgot the basic principle of warfare, along which one should pay special attention to control of any elevations, but particularly mountain peaks if advancing on the plains below. Result: 4th advanced for 5km, before suffering such losses, that one of its brigades (meanwhile down to less than 1000 combatants) had to be withdrawn from the battle.

                            Only then did the Russians realize their mistake, so the NDF and the SSNP were left to launch that offensive against the Turkomen. For the first two weeks, they were losing any objectives they would capture at a speed that was higher than that with which they were gaining them. Villages like Ghanem have changed hands at least four times: every regime attack was smashed by an ever stronger counterattack of FSyA's Turkomen.

                            Finally, it took the deployment of one Hezbollah/Lebanon brigade, and two motorized battalions of Russians to secure Ghanem and then punch a small hole in the western side of the FSyA's positions and advance for... ah well, even if it was '70 kilometres' (like some Russian general claimed), it was straight into nowhere. This 'victory' came at about 100 confirmed KIA of the Hezbollah, and rumours about 50 KIA Russians (of course, these are never going to be confirmed as long as Putin is power).

                            Bottom line: majority of mountain peaks in this area are still under insurgent control, and thus there's no point in attempting to re-launch the offensive on al-Ghab Plain.

                            And that after nearly 3 months of fighitng and unconfirmed rumours about 1,500 KIA and 2,000 WIA - on this frontline alone, and by a force that's suffering from chronical manpower shortages (additionally, Hezbollah/Lebanon didn't get their pay for November, and are threatening to withdraw from Syria if this is not paid at least this month).

                            In the process, they are cutting the lines of communication for both the ISIS...
                            Can you cite any of 'lines of communication' of the Daesh (that's what you call ISIS) have been 'cut off' so far?

                            Otherwise, they have more or less ignored all the existing surrounded rebel enclaves (north of Homs and various places around Damascus)...
                            Just a second: so this attack of the 105th Brigade RGD on Marj as-Sultan, and about 200 air strikes (by Russians, but by Assadists) on Douma and Eastern Ghouta this week, are considered for 'ignoring insurgents of the Islamic Front' that are holding this 'pocket'?

                            This may require another map to explain.
                            ...and a lots of fantasy too. But, I'm looking forward for that explanation.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Huh, I thought Russians were acting as "IS airforce"? I also see a lack of Julian Röpcke tweets and citations in your post.


                              Would you mind explaining, since according to you, Russians don't actually provide any close support or contribute meaningfully to Syrian forces, why has the initiative passed to the side that was losing previously?
                              Why have the ATGM videos, something that your kind have thrived on previously, suddenly become not so frequent?
                              Why did the foreign backers of "Syrian" "rebels" become so upset over Russian intervention if it doesn't have an effect?

                              And I really like how you go to great lengths to "expose" the "reality" of Syrian forces, I would be soooo happy if you could do the same for "moderate opposition".

                              What a joke. Just by looking at the way you addressed Skoblin is telling enough, but the fact that the content of all those "pro-rebel" posts is so strikingly similar tells us even more of the kind of people who write them.

                              I mean, we have here claims of "only 4 commanders killed", entire Russian battalions in combat, dozens of Russians dead, Putler regime etc. Only now I realise how wrong was it to even reply to such delusional ranting.

                              Long story short: your side is losing, the tide has turned and apart from writing forum rants, there is nothing that you can do. If only all of those Internet supporters and activists grabbed a rifle and went to Syria to join the "democratic" forces.... A man can dream...
                              Last edited by Epigon; 19 Dec 15, 10:14.

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