Tiger forces crushing ISIS in Aleppo province, advancing on Maskanah
A tactical analysis by Jim W. Dean
… from Southfront
[ Editor’s Note: The SAA advance on Maskanah, after finally securing the air base, was slow. Lack of forces was the main reason, as a quick follow-up traditionally requires using reserves that already have enemy-position Intel to continue the attack while the retreating enemy is in disarray.
The goal would be to trigger a rout, where ISIS would be pulling back without time to load ammo for a hard fighting-retreat through a series of prepared fallback positions that could slow down the advancing Syrian forces. The ISIS counter strategy would be to deny the countryside and to force the SAA to attack down the main road into IED and TOW ambushes.
The ISIS Raqqa commander would have given instructions to his Maskanah counterpart to destroy as much of the SAA armor and to inflict as many casualties as possible, so the Tiger Forces would not be able to join the Raqqa assault in strength.
It seems that the SAA strategy has matched the limitations it has with ground forces, in not wanting to risk significant losses by taking non-strategic targets. But, it has allowed ISIS to regroup and set up defensive points in the countryside which can then be observed and bombed, with no losses to the Tiger Force. This process wears down ISIS’ defensive capacity in its fighting retreat, and less of ISIS survives to get to Maskanah, denying them the ability to participate in defensive street fighting there from well-prepared positions.
You will see Maskanah in the lower right of the top banner map above, with one small town on the road NE of the city for the Tiger Forces to take. The SAA can swing around on the west side, out of range of any of ISIS’ main TOW positions covering the main road and the city perimeter.
The SAA might even swing around to the south and cut the road to block a fighting retreat of an ISIS force bottled up in Mashanah. Once the city is captured, then the SAA could advance more quickly toward Tabqa and have a military and political presence there before the Raqqa battle is over.
Logistic supplies for the advancing SAA could prove a problem for them also, but at least they will be able to gain control over the fertile land to the west of Lake Assad, staking a more solid claim to that water.
If the US-Kurdish-Turkish factions get control of the Euphrates from the Turkish border all the way down through Deir-Ezzor to the Iraqi border, that would give them some major cards to play during a political settlement by controlling the water and oil assets in that region.
Hence you see why Damascus is wanting to pile as many jihadis and opposition fighters into Idlib as it can, so it can redeploy as much of its military power to liberating as much of the economic assets of the country as possible.
I suspect that what seems to be an emerging push to open up the Syrian border crossing for the Iraqi Popular Militias to be a major force in helping Damascus regain control of its eastern border and establish a working anti-terrorism military force with Baghdad is a direct response by the US coalition to end run any political process by getting control of most of Syria’s borders and water and energy resources.
I had predicted early on that the US Coalition would still continue its attempt to Balkanize Syria during a long drawn out peace talks process. The US coalition’s bombing of the pro-Syrian convoy making an advance to the Al-Tanf Iraq border crossing under the guise of a “force protection defensive strike”, when it was 40 kms away from the US Special Ops base there, is a big clue that I may be right … Jim W. Dean ]
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– First published … May 22, 2017 –
Pro-government forces, led by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces, are rapidly gaining ground in the countryside Maskanah in the province of Aleppo. Since the weeked, the Tiger Fores and ther allies have liberated Wadi Muwayih, Jub al-Ali, Tal Hasan, Nafiyah, Atirah, Mazyuna, the Thaletha farm, Samaljieh and the Al-Khazim Gas Station.
With these advances, the SAA is now in about 10 km from Maskanah with only 3 villages – Sain, Ras al-Ayn and Sakariyah – remaining on the government forces way to the entrance to the ISIS stronghold.