The Russian state-of-the-art T-14 Armata battle tank has been tested in Syria. According to Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, T-14 battle tanks were tested in “field conditions” and “all the nuances” were taken into account.
The T-14 is a next-generation main battle tank based on the Armata Universal Combat Platform. It features fully digitized equipment, an unmanned turret equipped with the new 2A82-1M 125mm smoothbore cannon and an isolated armored capsule for the crew. Serial supplies of the battle tank to the Russian military is set to begin in 2021.
The Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces launched a combing operation in the desert area between the al-Sukhnah Mountains, and the gas fields of Shaer and Jazal. Pro-government sources say that the goal of the effort is to track and hunt down ISIS cells operating in the area. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that this will put an end to ISIS attacks on army positions along the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor road. Mobile ISIS groups use light vehicles equipped with weapons and employ the tactics of mobile warfare against government forces. They avoid direct confrontation with the Syrian Army and focus their efforts on communication lines, separate military convoys and civilian targets.
Two high-ranking Syrian Army officers were killed in an attack by ISIS cells in the province of Daraa on April 18. Brig. Gen. Hamed Makhlouf and Col. Mahmoud Habib were killed near the village of al-Hrak as the result of machine gun fire directed by militants at their vehicle. On April 17, two militants assassinated Lt. Hussein Fawaz Ramadan in the town of Khirbet Qeis. Syrian intelligence immediately tracked down and eliminated the attackers.
On April 16, soldiers were killed and 2 others were injured as a result of an attack on their convoy on the road between the villages of al-Sourah and Naamer. The security situation in the province seems to be deteriorating. Mahdi al-Dibo, a commander of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham security forces in western Aleppo, was shot and killed on a road between the villages of al-Atarib and al-Sahharah on April 17.
Al-Dibo was reportedly among the field commanders involved in the group’s attack on the Turkish-backed Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement in al-Sahharah. In early 2019, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham launched a large-scale operation against al-Zenki, its former ally, in western Aleppo. The group was defeated and its remaining members were expelled to the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin in northern Aleppo.
Over the past few years, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has repeatedly attacked and pressured militant groups, which tried to challenge its influence in Greater Idlib or just had something that the group wanted. As a result, it established control over all spheres of economic, security and political life in this part of Syria. It even formed the so-called Salvation Government to manage the controlled territory.
Units of the Russian Military Police have increased their presence in the area of Qamishly city following the recent increase of tensions between pro-government forces and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Late on April 16, a checkpoint of the SDF security forces, Asayish, in the city was attacked with two hand grenades. One of the grenades exploded inside the checkpoint. The second one was defused by Asayish. No SDF member was killed.
The grenades were reportedly thrown by members of a local unit of the National Defense Forces. In the previous years of the conflict, clashes between SDF and NDF units deployed in Qamishly erupted on a regular basis. Most of them were caused by tensions between local commanders and the SDF attempts to expand their control of the city pushing the NDF out of it. Following the deployment of the Russian Military Police in the area, the situation in the city de-escalated.
However, as long as the Damascus government and the SDF have reached no wide political deal to settle the existing disagreements, the source of tensions will not be removed.