Iranian-backed militias and the Syrian National Defense Forces (NDF) have launched a joint security operation against ISIS cells in the area between the towns of al-Mayadin and al-Bukamal, on the western bank of the Euphrates.
According to pro-government sources, hundreds of fighters and 120 military vehicles are involved. Liwa Fatemiyoun, which is funded, trained, and equipped by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is reportedly leading the operation.
Government forces repelled the attack after several hours of heavy clashes. On August 4, ISIS terrorists stormed a Syrian Army position near the town of Jub Abyad. The previous attack, on August 1, also happened in the countryside of Deir Ezzor killing at least 2 NDF members and injuring several others.
On August 6, a combat drone of the Turkish Armed Forces struck an electric cable factory in the district of Qanat al-Suis, east of the city of al-Qamishli in the province of al-Hasakah. The targeted factory reportedly employs dozens of locals and produces only civilian products. At least one civilian was severely injured in the strike, which also caused material damage.
A day earlier, on August 5, Turkish artillery strikes killed at least 2 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the towns of Ayn Issa and Sida. While Turkish-backed forces and the SDF do not conduct active offensive actions against each other, they regularly engage each other in firefights and artillery duels.
The security situation continues to deteriorate in the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone. Since August 5, clashes between the Syrian Army and Turkish-backed militants, mostly Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, have been ongoing in northern Lattakia and northwestern Hama.
This significantly intensified on the evening August 6 in the area of the al-Kurd Mountian. Army troops reportedly tried to advance towards al-Hadadah hill, but their attack was repelled. According to pro-militant sources, at least 9 Syrian soldiers and 5 militants were killed in the clashes.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also claimed that several Russian service members were injured in militant artillery strikes near the village of Kinsabba. If this report is confirmed, it may finally force the Russian Aerospace Forces and special operations units to provide more active assistance to the Syrian Army in its current standoff with the terrorists.
This support will likely guarantee success in the field for pro-government forces, but at the same time it will lead to a new round of tension with Turkey, which actively protects Idlib radicals. Therefore, a new round of escalation in Greater Idlib still requires some large incident that would force the main backers of the warring sides to switch from mostly diplomatic efforts to direct military actions.
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*All posts on behalf of South Front are made by Gordon Duff