Jeremy Binnie, London – Jane’s Defence Weekly
04 January 2019
Kurdish forces from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) have withdrawn from the town of Manbij as part of an agreement with the Syrian government, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on 2 January.
It cited a statement from the Syrian Ministry of Defence (MoD) as saying that a convoy of more than 30 vehicles had left the town and crossed to the eastern side of the Euphrates river. The MoD said information indicated that around 400 Kurdish fighters had left Manbij. SANA released a video showing dozens of vehicles carrying men waving YPG flags crossing the Qarah Qawzaq bridge to the eastern side of the Euphrates.
But the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State terror group responded on Twitter, saying it “has seen no indication that these claims are true.”
Syria’s military said December 28 it entered the flashpoint Kurdish-held town of Manbij in an apparent deal with the Kurds, who are looking for new allies and protection against a threatened Turkish offensive as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw from Syria.
SDF took Hajin early December 14, after fierce fighting under the cover of US-led airstrikes. Some Isis fighters had withdrawn to the villages and fighting was still going in the fields surrounding Hajin
[October 14 2018]
French gunners carried out 22 shooting missions with their Caesar from Iraqi territory. Hajin is located about thirty kilometers from Iraq. The CAESAR is a French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre gun-howitzer, installed on a 6X6 truck chassis ( with a range greater than 38 km)
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that as part of the coalition’s current assault on ISIS positions, it had witnessed increasing artillery shelling from French forces in the area over the past week.
The Kurdish fighters have been returning to the SDF since Turkey seized Afrin, Pentagon officials have said.
“We are encouraged by the return of some Syrian Democratic Force partners to the Middle Euphrates River Valley,” coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters last week. “I will not go into details on how many and where there will be a raid, but there are some encouraging signs to see that more combat power is returning to the Middle Euphrates River Valley to really turn it on to the ISIS element, those two locations that finally remain.” On Tuesday, April 24 U.S. Army Colonel and Coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon told reporters that most of those are confined to two small towns—Hajin and Dashisha—which are surrounded by Kurdish forces.
[ April 25 Iraqi airstrike near Hajin ]
“We have put obstacles into place and have constructed, you know, things to contain ISIS in the two areas where we are currently supporting our forces to defeat the remaining locations where they hold territory.
And that is in Dashisha, along the Iraq-Syria border, and in Abu Kamal — north of Abu Kamal, on the eastern side of the Euphrates River, in a town called Hajin.”
This week, the Iraqi Air Force conducted a strike on a known ISIS headquarters in Syria that was being used to smuggle ISIS terrorists. This complex operation was planned and conducted by Iraqi security forces, with support provided by coalition. This strike demonstrated Iraq’s willingness to do what is necessary to secure its citizens, as well as their role as an important partner in the global coalition to defeat ISIS.
On April 19 The Iraqi air force conducted an airstrike near Hajin, Syria, against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists operating near the Iraq-Syria border.
The strike was approved by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the commander in chief of Iraq’s armed forces.
[ February 8 U.S. airstrikes in Khusham where the Turkish forces are accompanied by U.S. troops ]
The Wagner Group also known as PMC Wagner, ChVK Wagner, or CHVK Vagner is a Russian paramilitary organisation. Some have described it as a private military company (or a private military contracting agency), whose contractors have reportedly taken part in various conflicts
The Syrian Democratic Forces have managed to capture much of Syria’s oil and gas infrastructure after ejecting ISIS from those areas. US officials believe that the regime, strapped for cash after a nearly eight-year-long civil war, hopes to recapture the oil fields and simultaneously deny the Syrian Democratic Forces a source of revenue and legitimacy.
The US-led coalition said in a statement that they assessed that Wednesday’s attack by pro-regime forces was aimed at recapturing some of these oil fields.
To complicate matters, two US defense officials told CNN that the US military now assesses that Russian contractors, believed to be funded by the Russian government, participated in Wednesday’s assault.
America launched airstrikes on Syrian government-backed troops February 7 after they attacked Syrian opposition forces who were accompanied by U.S. advisers in Deir el-Zour Province. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), aided by coalition support, are battling Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants east of the Euphrates River. Syrian government forces are active on the other side of the river around the city of Deir el-Zour.
The U.S. coalition launched the strikes after as many as 500 attackers began what appeared to be a coordinated assault on an SDF headquarters, where the Turkish forces are accompanied by U.S. troops.
[September 30 in operations against ISIS in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor province, U.S. retains right of self-defense at all times. ]
Airstrikes on villages and towns held by the Islamic State group in eastern Syria have killed and wounded dozens a day after an attack by the extremists killed more than 120 pro-government fighters and briefly cut off the highway linking the capital Damascus with eastern Syria, opposition activists said September 30.
It was not immediately clear if the airstrikes on areas including Mayadeen, Boukamal, Bouleil, Bouomar and Mushassan were carried out by the Russians or the U.S.-led coalition.
In Deir ez-Zor province, the SDF continued deliberate movement towards the Syria-Iraq border and have reached the town of Al-Suwar, liberating more than 1,000 square kilometers along the way, said Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, Pentagon Spokesman on September 28.
The flow of displaced civilians traveling north and west fluctuates from 500 to over 2,000 per day as the fighting in the province intensifies. The SDF prioritizes IDP safe passage to camps in Ar-Rashi, Mabrouka and as far away as Ayn Issa.
Checkpoints along main travel ways ensure roads are clear from common criminals, as well as ISIS fighters attempting to harm or infiltrate these group of evacuees.
On September 25, Russian-backed Syrian regime forces conducted artillery strike in the vicinity of SDF fighting position northeast of Deir ez-Zor. The SDF immediately reported the impacts in their area, and later announced casualties. This week, our coalition mourned the loss of one of our own, a master sergeant from the French army’s 13th Dragoons Parachute Regiment was killed during combat operations in support of our fight against ISIS.
Coalition officials immediately passed SDF and impact locations to the Russians through the de-confliction line, with the intent to inform Syrian regime forces of impacts on or near SDF positions.
The coalition and its partners remain committed to the defeat of ISIS, and we will continue to use the de-confliction line as a means to prevent accidental targeting and to ease tensions.
The coalition is committed to our SDF partners in their operations against ISIS in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor province, and we retain the right of self-defense at all times.
A Marine MV-22B made a hard landing September 29 in Syria. The downing resulted in non-life-threatening injuries to two unidentified service member. It was operating from a coalition ground base and was destroyed following the hard landing. U.S. military officials and SDF commanders told VOA on March 21 that an airbase in Kobani will be the headquarters for U.S.-led coalition operations to retake Raqqa.
On September 14, two airstrikes in Syria targeted IS drone developer Abu Salman near Mayadin and destroyed his research lab in Ashara, Syria.
Salman and “a terrorist associate” were killed while traveling in a vehicle from Mayadin to Ashara.
September 21 SDF warns against Assad advances on eastern Euphrates riverbank,has twice opened fire on Russian special forces.]
The Russian Defence Ministry said the SDF had taken up positions on the eastern banks of the Euphrates with U.S. special forces, and had twice opened fire with mortars and artillery on Syrian troops who were working alongside Russian special forces.
“A representative of the U.S. military command in Al Udeid (the U.S. operations center in Qatar) was told in no uncertain terms that any attempts to open fire from areas where SDF fighters are located would be quickly shut down,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
The Syrian army, backed by Russian and Syrian war planes, has made wide advances along the Euphrates’ western riverbank. Syrian troops also crossed to the eastern side of the river on September 18.
The SDF’s advances have been on the eastern bank of the river.
The convergence of the two rival offensives has increased tensions in Deir al-Zor. On Monday, the US-backed militia warned against any further Syrian army advances on the eastern riverbank.
On September 19, Russia’s defence ministry said the Euphrates had risen as soon as the Syrian army began crossing it. The only way that could have happened was if upstream dams held by the US-backed opposition had been opened, it said.
[September 15 U.S. to press on southbound around Deir Ezzor ]
Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve has decided to press on southbound around Deir Ezzor which could end up isolating ISIS militants trapped between the western Syrian military front and the country’s eastern border with Iraq, where forces supported by both the U.S. and Iran are also battling ISIS. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the anti-ISIS Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, said September 15 that the U.S.-led coalition had decided not to enter the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, where Syrian troops recently broke an ISIS siege against comrades trapped behind enemy lines for three years. A separate campaign by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces has also pierced through ISIS territory toward Deir Ezzor, but will reportedly stop at the city’s limits “so as not to complicate” the already crowded conflict.
Bassem Aziz, a spokesman for the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said they have taken control of an industrial area on the eastern bank of the river, a few miles from the government troops. Mr Aziz said they were about four miles away from the city’s eastern entrance.
“The convergence of military forces in this area calls for increased awareness and de-confliction,” Dillon said. Two Russian submarines launched seven Kalibr cruise missiles September 15 targeting ISIS positions in Deir Ezzor, The submarines were the Kilo-class diesel-electric Velikiy Novgorod and Kolpino boats.
[September 14 SDF and the Syrian troops to clash? ]
RUSSIAN air strikes have killed 34 civilians on ferries fleeing violence in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where jihadists face separate assaults by US-backed forces and Russian-backed government troops, a monitor said. The Observatory relies on a network of sources inside Syria, and says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used
Deir Ezzor (Syria News) US-led coalition warplanes bombarded, September 10, a military convoy belonging to the Syrian army, east of Deir Ezzor.
Qasioun News reported that the international coalition warplanes bombarded a military convoy belonging to the Syrian army and allied militia, near al-Tayem oil field, east of Deir Ezzor,
The United States and Russia are interested in avoiding a confrontation between the SDF and the Syrian forces and can devise a strategy that will allow both sides to share control over the vast province.
United States officials have suggested they do not seek a confrontation with Assad’s forces.
“We are in the destruction-ISIS activity, and this is what we want to do, and if the Syrian regime wants to do it … and show that they do it exactly at Abu Kamal or Deir el-Zour or elsewhere, this means we do not have to do it in these places, “said coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon in June, referring to a city on the Iraqi border and using a different acronym for IS.
The only way left for the SDF to enter the eastern province appears to be from the northeastern province of Hassakeh, where Syrian activists say the U.S.-backed fighters have been gathering and stepping up preparations for an attack.
A U.S.-trained group, the Deir el-Zour Military Council, which is part of the SDF, is expected to launch the attack against IS in Deir el-Zour under the cover of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition within days. SDF officials say the imminent attack is not related to government forces reaching the city earlier this week, and was planned months in advance.
Syrian Kurdish official Nawaf Khalil, who is in Germany but frequently visits northern Syria, said the SDF attack on Deir el-Zour could begin at any moment, adding that the battle for Raqqa now no longer needs a large number of fighters.
The US-led coalition in struggle against IS said in an email to The Associated Press that the SDF “will decide when conditions are good for an offensive.”
Asked about concerns over possible confrontation between the SDF and the Syrian troops, the coalition said: “We urge all forces to focus on our common enemy.”
[September 8 Stately Balloon: SFA to capture Lower Euphrates Valley ]
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appears to working with Russia to stabilize Syria. Tillerson believes he’s making some quiet progress on Syria. The real danger to Russian interests is increasing Iranian power there, especially as Bashar Assad’s regime regains control of Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria. To counter the Iranians, Tillerson supports a quick move by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to capture the Lower Euphrates Valley.
This bilateral approach creates more room for spoilers to enter the fray, especially with militias active on both sides of the conflict such as the Lebanese Hezbollah or the Iraqi Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigades and Asaib Ahl al-Haq backing the regime and multinational groups fighting against it. Competing interests between the different parties on the ground mean that those not benefitting from local arrangements have an incentive to undermine them.
- Syrian Democratic Forces
- قوات سوريا الديمقراطية
- Hêzên Sûriya Demokratîk
- ܚܝ̈ܠܘܬܐ ܕܣܘܪܝܐ ܕܝܡܩܪܛܝܬܐ
- Participant in the Syrian Civil War
[10/06/16 Putin pressing his advantage in Syria]
Mr. Obama has repeatedly refused to involve US forces in the Mideast more robustly, and even if he’s had a change of heart, his administration is drawing to a close. Mr. Putin appears to recognize those facts and is pressing his advantage in Syria while it remains.
“At this point, the US doesn’t have it in its power to offer the Russians anything in Syria that they would find worthwhile,” Yezid Sayigh, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Center in Beirut. says. “There just is nothing that will get the two [powers] back on track anytime soon.”
[June 3 2015 Syria: government mood is black ]
A diplomat who tracks Syria said the tone reflected a new government willingness to admit vulnerability.
“It’s a change in their attitude,” the diplomat said. “The general mood is black.”
The deputy head of Israel’s armed forces said this week the Syrian military had “ceased to exist, de facto”, while Hezbollah was investing in thousands of its fighters in Syria. The previous assumptions that Assad could not be defeated due to his superior military strength underpinned by the air force were no longer valid, the diplomat said. The insurgents were building on their momentum and had more recruits.
“For every 100 soldiers lost by the regime, there are not 100 more coming in,” the diplomat said.
June 2 Assad regime is disintegrating: Russia has evacuated 100 of its senior officials]
Russia has evacuated 100 of its senior officials and their families from Syria via the airport in Latakia. They said that those leaving include experts who worked in the war room in Damascus, along with the Iranian experts and Hezbollah officials. According to the report, they have not been replaced. Syrian opposition sources say that Hezbollah and Iranian military experts have left Assad’s war room in Damascus, along with Russian experts.
There have been increasing signs in recent days that the Assad regime is disintegrating, four years into the civil war that has engulfed Syria. Last week, the Syrian president lost control of another province, which comes on the heels of previous reports that Islamic State already controls more than 50% of the country. here has been a noticeable change in the Russian position toward Syria that Moscow is for the first time willing to discuss with the Americans the exact details of a transition period for the country, and even raise the names of individual military and political officials to oversee it.
After four years of war, the regime controls less than 8% percent of the country’s oil and gas fields, while Islamic State controls more than 80% percent.
[June 27 2013 Syria: Damascus Christian area bomb]
A suicide attacker blew himself up near one of the main churches in Damascus,the Syrian capital June 27, killing at least four people.
The blast struck in the vicinity of the Greek Orthodox Virgin Mary Church in the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Bab Sharqi in central Damascus. Is partition coming.