Briefly on the situation in Northern Syria.
After the stabilization of the front between the Kurds and the Syrians, SAA continues to methodically push the troops to the South. By 18 March, the SAA almost came close to Dayr-Hafir, which serves as the main hub of the stronghold of militants in the province of Aleppo after the loss of al-Bab. The city is too well fortified, so the promotion of it was difficult, but due to superiority in strength, the SAA gradually achieves success in other areas, creating the preconditions for the liberation. Advance to the South of the city and gradually creates a threat to the operational environment of all the forces of the Caliphate in the area of Deir-Hafer, in the coming weeks, put them in front of a difficult choice – either to stay in Deir Hafir to the end, or go further South, leaving the city for example Dabeka and al-Bab. I would bet that “black” to the end to cling to Dayr Hafir will not and when there is a real threat to the environment, begin the withdrawal of troops.
It can speed up developing offensive SAA along the banks of the Euphrates, where the advanced parts have reached the airbase Giro, the taking of which may threaten the broader coverage of all categories of the Caliphate in Dayr-Hafir.
After the losses incurred in previous battles, the rebelsfind it extremely difficult to retain a sufficiently wide front, as SAA stabilized the front with the FSA and the Kurds and can create considerable numerical and qualitative superiority on the main axis. Currently “black” rather engaged in a chilling actions, which are unlikely to allow them to stay a long time in the province of Aleppo. I would assume that by may in the East of Aleppo, the militants will be cleaned out and on the agenda will be released operations against Raqqa province, which will develop in parallel SDF/YPG and the US against the capital of the Caliphate.
In these circumstances, the Kurds and the Americans have already created the necessary operational preconditions for the assault on the city, which takes a bit more force than the Kurds and the Americans. So the current operation in the area of the capital of the Caliphate associated with a gradual compression of the washer around Raqqa on the North Bank of the Euphrates, as well as the promotion of light infantry to the cities and towns on the Euphrates in the direction of the route Deir ez-Zor, a – raqqa, which poses a threat of transportation connectivity of the territories of the Caliphate in Syria.
Simultaneously with this continued movement and the accumulation of forces American troops to the North of Raqqa. By April, their number should be around 2500-3000 people (SOF. Rangers, Marines). The same is expected of supply engineering vehicles, artillery systems, light armored vehicles. Airfields South of Kobani are logistics hubs through which there is a pumping group, which needs to attack Raqqa.Due to the lack of heavy equipment, the U.S. is likely to choose al-Manbij, where promotion through the city’s neighborhoods provides intensive and systematic airstrikes. The main problem here as usual will represent the suicide attacks, sniper attacks and mobile ATRA groups, as well as mines.
It should also be noted that the Kurds can try to pre-move to the airbase Tabqa to put there to block the Syrian advance in the direction of Raqqa and Tabqa, if any, will commence, after concentration of the appropriate number of troops in the area Itree.
Meeting in Antalya between the chiefs of General Staff of Russia, Turkey and the United States eased the tension around Manbij, although individual incidents are still ongoing. The position of the Turks after the meeting officially changed after the loud statements of the Turkish leadership about what Manbij will be Turkish now, the Turkish defense Minister said that Turkey is in favor of a diplomatic solution to Manbij. A significant role in changing this position was played by the efforts of Russia and the USA, which tried to convey to the Turkish leadership that a direct war of the Turks with the Kurds in the area Manbij neither Moscow nor Washington is interested in.
Turkey in this situation faced a difficult problem – the operation against the Caliphate it has already finished and the front between Turks and “black” at the moment. And with the Kurds Rojava Russians and Americans to war do not give. But at the same time, controlled by the militants require active actions in the current position of the front. Move to the South to Aleppo, is to break the pots with Russia and Iran. To move to the East from al-Bab and South of Dzharablus, means seriously to break the pots with Russia, Iran and the United States.In this regard, Erdogan can either fix the current after the capture of al-Baba of the status quo and to cease active operations, or to try to take apinski the Kurds, beginning with operations in the area of tal Rifat and provocations on the borders of the Canton of Afrin, although this of course does not solve the problem of the guerrilla war waged by the Kurdistan workers ‘ Party in Turkey. Similarly, it will not help separate deals with the regime of Barzani, whom the Turks are trying to set on bases of the PKK in Iraq. It Rojava is the main supply base of the PKK, as it is through it to Turkey flows of weapons and explosives. But do the Turks can not do anything, as Rojava is under the auspices of the United States. Therefore, Turkey is constantly trying to offer himself to the Americans as a priority partner in Northern Syria, promising to provide troops and equipment for the capture of Raqqa, only to achieve the cessation of U.S. support to Syrian Kurds.The Americans, however, are not in a hurry to go to meet the wishes of Erdogan, defiantly preparing the assault on Raqqa with the help of the Kurds, ignoring Turkish ambitions about Manbij and Raqqa.
For Russia and Syria, the advance of the Kurds to the Euphrates is interesting in terms of liberating Deir-ez-Zor, where they continue to heroically fight off the advancing militants split into two parts enclave. Despite the loss of messages between the main area of the enclave and the air base to destroy the enclave and the Caliphate could not (incurred very large losses) and Deir-ez-Zor remain as a bone in the throat “black”, preventing full turning of Deir ez-Zor in the reserve capital of the Caliphate, which he can become after the loss of Mosul and Raqqa.The Syrians in the short term are unlikely to be able to release enclave, since the onset of the East and North-East of Palmyra is developing quite slowly.Theoretically, the enclave could release the Kurds Rojava, expanding the attack South of al-Shadadi or along the banks of the Euphrates in the South-East, but the Kurds are frankly not in a hurry, as the main force now thrown into operation in the area of Raqqa and employment in desert areas and small settlements to the North of Deir-ez-Zor are mainly carried out by small detachments of motorized infantry, which pushes South the small veil of the troops of the Caliphate. Heavy equipment is not here, the mounting of the strike group (when there is a political decision) will take time.Therefore, the critical situation around Deir-ez-Zor for a long time will continue. For the Caliphate, the elimination of the enclave, and there arranged the massacre, could a few to brighten up a series of strategic failures, so it is possible that “black” is redefined here their few reserves to try to break through the defense of the SAA in the area of 137th base and trimmed base. For SAA in this context will be a critical issue of uninterrupted supply of ammunition (videoconferencing delivered recently in the besieged enclave more than 20 tons of goods) and efficiency of air support (including the use of long-range aviation).
Overall, the strategic situation for the Caliphate continues to deteriorate and the actions of the SAA, Russia, the Kurds and the United States, creating the preconditions for applying a decisive defeat of the Caliphate in Syria during 2017, after which it can cease to exist in the format of the state have lost all the key towns and going to the more traditional strategy of terrorist war.
Parallel to this struggle against the Caliphate, the parties solve their problem, which should provide more favorable negotiating position when it comes to the inter-Syrian settlement in the context of negotiations in Astana and Geneva. The role of external players in recent months has increased dramatically, which more than demonstrated the crisis around Manbij. Assad last month has significantly expanded the territory controlled effectively using the benefits of a partial truce with the “green”. The Kurds are as much rooted territory on the southern borders Rojava. With this, and SAA, and the Kurds are quite clear prospects of success, at that time, both FSA and “Ahrar al-sham” how much more difficult to offer a proactive strategy that would allow them to strengthen their negotiating position (with the attack on Afrin, or an attempt to strike at SAA West of Aleppo, is problematic).
http://anna-news.info/category/all_news/war/syria/ – summary of events in Syria for March 17
http://anna-news.tv/anna-news-tv-live/ – Syrian air Anna-News-Online
http://mediarepost.ru/online-siriya/83315-online-lenta-sirii-svodka-za-18032017-post-obnovlyaetsya.html – tape of military events in Syria for March 18