Syrian War: Battle fronts update

Syria map
Syria map

December 23 – 25, 2016

Homs Province
ISIS launched a massive offensive in the countryside of Homs, with the end goal of capturing the strategic town of Jub al-Jarrah.

ISIS began the offensive by capturing the village of Khattab and checkpoints guarding it after fierce fighting with the National Defense Forces (local volunteer army).

After taking Khattab, ISIS headed towards three other small villages, but the Russian Air Force was called in and prevented ISIS advancement.

The Russian air strikes allowed the Syrian Army to rally to the front line at Jub al-Jarrah and reverse the earlier gains made by ISIS.

The Syrian Army killed at least 40 ISIS members. The ISIS fighters were of Saudi Arabian, Libyan, Moroccan, Egyptian and Iraqi nationalities.

Damascus Province
Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) has begun mobilizing forces in the farming region of east Damascus, on the outskirts of Damascus city.

In response, the Syrian Army has begun mobilizing thousands of soldiers for what is being described as the largest military operation on the outskirts of Damascus city.

Note:  Jaish al-Islam (army of Islam) is a very large Islamist army who fight alongside other foreign Islamist groups in Syria in an attempt to take more territory for the Islamic takeover. Jaish al-Islam is funded by Saudi Arabia.

The Syrian Army began an offensive in the Wadi Barada neighborhood of Damascus on the night of December 23rd after members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (opening of sham to Islam) refused to evacuate the Wadi Barada neighborhood.

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is al-Qaeda in Syria. The al-Qaeda group used to call themselves Jabhat al-Nusra, but recently changed their name to confuse the West.

The al-Qaeda group refused to leave Damascus after the recent demand by the Syrian Army to do so. The Syrian Army offered to transport al-Qaeda members safely to Idlib as part of the deal previously made under the UN Resolution, but there is a Catch-22.

One of the reasons why al-Qaeda in Syria changed their name from Jabhat al-Nusra to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is so that they would not be “officially” listed as participants of the Resolution (other groups have done this also, including the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army).

Unwilling to leave, the Syrian Army gave al-Qaeda an ultimatum to either accept the deal of safe evacuation, or the Syrian Army will strike. The al-Qaeda army rejected the deal. Because of this rejection, the Syrian Army hit the area on the outskirts of Bassimeh village where al-Qaeda has a stronghold, resulting in the Syrian Army capturing two important points overlooking the village.

At least ten al-Qaeda members were killed in the battle and two of al-Qaeda’s mounted machine guns were destroyed.

Deir Ezzor / Homs Provinces
The Russian Air Force carried out dozens of airstrikes in the countryside of the Deir Ezzor / Homs countryside.

These air strikes came after a massive assault by ISIS in the Deir Ezzor and Homs provinces.

Russian jets first conducted airstrikes at the main ISIS supply line located between al-Raqqa and Homs provinces, resulting in the destruction of several terrorist oil tankers.

The Russian Air Force then carried out a number of hits near the T-4 Military Airport in Homs province near the ancient city of Palmyra to assist the Syrian Army in their battle against ongoing ISIS attacks on the Military Airport.

The Russian Air Force also carried out airstrikes over the Thardeh Mountains, al-Rashidiyeh, al-Arfa, and al-Hawiqah districts of Deir Ezzor, killing many ISIS members.

ISIS is expected to launch more attacks in the coming weeks, as they have been rallying extremely large numbers of fighters and have been transferring weapons from east Homs to the Deir Ezzor front.

ISIS has also transferred a large number of fighters from al-Bab in eastern Aleppo to Deir Ezzor province. ISIS fighters have also been arriving from Iraq at the Deir Ezzor border. ISIS has had their main stronghold in Deir Ezzor since 2014.

Because of these large transfers into Deir Ezzor, ISIS is expected to launch a massive offensive to hit the remaining Syrian Army soldiers inside Deir Ezzor who are right now fully encircled by ISIS without any outlet to retreat or receive provisions.

Updates will be given about the stranded Syrian Army soldiers as events occur.

Hama Province
The Syrian Air Force carried out several airstrikes in the eastern countryside of Hama province targeting ISIS positions at a number of important sites.

The Syrian Air Force began with strikes over the town of Uqairbat, which is an ISIS stronghold. The strikes destroyed an ISIS command-and-control center. The Syrian Air Force also hit an ISIS oil supply route.

December 26, 2016
The Syrian Army’s successful operation in the eastern part of Aleppo has paved the way for liberating the southwestern suburbs from Islamist control.

The Syrian Army has given Jaish al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) 72 hours to surrender the Rashiddeen suburbs of Aleppo.

The Russian and Syrian Armies are ready to clear the remaining areas inside the western part of Aleppo which will give full control of the provincial capital back to the Syrian people for the first time since in August 2012.

As in the east Aleppo campaign, the Syrian Army will do this street by street, building by building, in SWAT-like teams, making sure all civilians are rescued and the remaining terror cells purged.

Note: regarding Jaish al-Fateh, who have control over areas in western Aleppo:

During the last four years, Turkey’s President Erdogan and Saudi Arabian prince Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud joined forces in backing foreign Islamist groups in Syria who are trying to create an Islamic Law government.

To facilitate the takeover of Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey created Jaish al-Fateh, a coalition army with several divisions so it could spread itself throughout all of Syria, causing many front lines of battle and causing the Syrian Army to be spread too thin to win any one battle.

But, this creation of a Turkish-Saudi backed Islamist army only gave many thousands more Syrians the incentive to join the armed forces; hence, Syria was able to hang on. Then, in September of 2015, Russia joined in the fight against the terrorist takeover, and Syria has made massive strides at regaining territory from the Islamist armies.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia continue to fund and arm Jaish al-Fateh and supply it with foreign mercenary fighters who cross into Syria from Turkey.

Now, in 2016, Jaish al-Fateh is comprised of several Islamist groups; the main ones are: Jabhat al-Nusra (Syrian al-Qaeda), Harakat Ahrar al-Sham (the movement of Free Sham; or freeing Sham to Islam), the Free Syrian Army (the US-backed group), and Jund al-Aqsa (an al-Qaeda affiliate).

Jaish al-Fateh means the “Army of the Opening”, as in taking a country for Islam.

Originally published at CheriBerens.

Cheri Berens lives in Egypt working as a researcher for the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. She experienced Egypt’s 2011 and 2013 revolutions and witnessed the Muslim Brotherhood takeover and violence that followed.