… from Southfront
[ Editor’s Note: As I had anticipated, the SAA is clearing the Khanasir pocket now that it has the Ithriyah-Resafa road open, as it does not make sense to leave any enemy in the rear.
Once they are cleaned out, then half the SAA troops could be redeployed to push the jihadis further north from Hama and the rest go on the offensive to finish clearing western Homs, which has to be fully secure before the major Deir Ezzor push.
We had news today that the SDF has agreed to let the US coalition use the Tabqa airport as a base. I am sure Damascus was not consulted, despite the Syrian defenders captured there by ISIS all having been executed.
So we now have the first overt act that I have also been writing about – with the SDF now taking over traditionally Arab parts of Syria and “giving permission” for the US to use them. I doubt the Arab inhabitants had much say in the matter. You just gotta love that freedom and democracy American style.
Now we will see if the SDF will contest the SAA in capturing the rest of the ISIS oil fields in South Raqqa. The fighting drags out in Raqqa city, as it does with the SAA and Russians pushing out from the Arak area just west of Palmyra, where they have been tied up with incremental gains taking weeks to accomplish. Things are quiet on the Iraq side of the border, in terms of clearing ISIS from the Al-Bakumal crossing.
The next round of political talks in Astana are set for July 10th. All parties will want to have captured as much ground as possible before then. The SDF is not a participant, while Turkey is; and we may see a Turkish move on the YPG Kurds before that meeting. Turkey will want to show that the US has to take Turkey’s concerns about the Kurds more seriously.
I don’t see how combat with both Turkey and Syria can be avoided much longer, as the SDF moves further into Arab lands and begins vocally calling for having their own state. Would the Turkish attack on the Kurds be done to pull them back from moving further south from Raqqa, an arrangement with Damascus possibly, and Russia? We do not really know. But acts on the ground over the next few weeks will tell us… Jim W. Dean ]
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– First published … July 01, 2017 –
On Saturday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) started an operation to eliminate the remaining ISIS terrorists in villages in the eastern Aleppo countryside, east of Khanasir town. The SAA captured the villages of Atshana, Khribeh, Jab al-Ali, Hayat, Khanisar, Zabad, Drehem, Hakl Drehem, Aqil, Sardah, Hawaz, Qulika, Al-Touniyah, Hamidiya al-Sharkia, Hamidiya al-Gharbia, east and northeast of Khanasir. Yesterday, the SAA enncircled ISIS in these villages after liberating the Ithriyah-Resafa road.
On the other side, the besieged ISIS fighters launched an attack on SAA positions east of Khanasir. A VBIED attacked military positions of the SAA east of Khanasir.
ISIS fighters attacked several army points, but the SAA managed to repel the attack and killed most of the attackers. The SAA also managed to capture an ISIS tank.
In the eastern Hama countryside, the National Defense Forces and the SAA launched a limited operation and took control of the points Shahd 9 and Shahd 10 east of Sheikh Hilal village east of Salamieh, killing a number of ISIS militants. This operation is believed to be a part of the vast operation that will be launched by Syrian Army and the Desert Hawks Brigade soon in the eastern Hama countryside.