SouthFront: Syria & Iraq battlespace, June 16, 2016

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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, has been repelling advances of the Al Nusra Front terrorist group and its allies in southern Aleppo. Jeish al-Fatah, Al-Nusra and some Turkoman units launched an offensive in the direction of the villages of Zaytoun and al-Khalasa and clashes with SAA troops near al-Zarbeh. The joint militant forces have not been able to breach the SAA’s defense lines, yet. Accoring to pro-government sources, up to 70 militants, including an Al-Nusra commander, Ammar al-Khaled, have been killed in the clashes since yesterday.

Russian warplanes conducted air strikes against ISIS militants near the besieged city of Deir Ezzor and the nearby areas: al-Baghaliyah, the Thurdah mountai, the Al-Rashdiyah district and the Al-Ummal neighbourhood. In a separate development, Russian aircraft has dropped 18 tons of UN humanitarian cargos – food products and grains – on Deir Ezzor.

SAA units, supported by Russian warplanes, have been clashing with ISIS militants on the way to Tabaqa military airport in western Raqqa. 37 SAA soldiers and more than 100 ISIS militants have been killed in action since the SAA launched the advance in the direction of Raqqa.

The US-led coalition said in a press statement on Wednesday that on June 13, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), mostly Kurdish YPG units, completed the first phase of the operation to free Manbij, dividing ISIS forces in the provinces of Raqqa and Aleppo. The coalition air power has reportedly conducted some 190 airstrikes near Manbij since the start of the operation. Now, the second phase to liberate the city will start. The Pentagon believes that the Arab part of the SDF, doubbed “Syrian Arab Coalition”, will play a crucial role in the operation.

Sniper fire by ISIS militants has killed a senior Iraqi commander near the city of Mosul in the province of Nineveh, Iraq’s Defense Ministry said late Tuesday. Brig. Ahmed Badr al-Luhaibi was the commander of Brigade 71st of Division 15 of the Iraqi Army. Recently, Iraqi forces have liberated the villages of Hajj Ali and Khirbat Shammām in the area. US Apache helicopter gunships have supported the recent advane of the Iraqi military.

Biography
Senior Editor , VT
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a disabled veteran and has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades. Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world’s largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues.

Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than “several” countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.

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