On Thursday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies announced start of the Operation “Grand Dawn” in eastern Syria. The aim of the operation is to expel militants from the eastern desert and to set a foothold for a push to Deir Ezzor. The declaration followed a major success of government forces in southeastern Homs where they had liberated about 5,000 km2 and got a full control over the Damascus-Palmyra highway.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the US missile strikes against Syria were planned well in advance of the alleged “gas attack” in Idlib province earlier.
She added that it is obvious that these missile strikes were planned before. For every expert it is obvious that this decision was made well in advance and before the Idlib events.
The enemy lost the town took up defensive positions in the mountainous terrain to the North from the road Palmyra-Tiyas and providing a flanking effect, inhibits attempts by SAA to move from Palmyra in the direction of Deir ez-Zor. The SAA are therefore forced to spend a portion of their forces on the Northern flank, trying to secure control of the heights and the mountainous area to the North of the road to get there comfortable position for the defense, to do mounted shock troops to advance to Deir-ez-Zor and conduct supporting operations to the North and South of the city…The main problem on both sides, front length is too large for the available forces, therefore, of paramount importance is the ownership of the initiative, which jihadists owned in December-January. Since February, it passed into the hands of the Syrians and their allies, and this was reflected in the operational environment.
Syrian sources report, to the base of Tiyas continue to have reserves that should take part in operations West of Palmyra. Among them are units formed and armed with Russia for the 5th army corps. Also marked fresh forces “Tigers” and the Republican guard. Major battles to turn around on the line, here, Juvies-Gazal. At this stage, the army creates the conditions to advance to Palmyra. Were occupied the hills to the North of the airbase and are now faced with the task of pushing the militants near the oil fields.The resistance “black” it will be clear whether they hold the districts, or go into a maneuver defense. The main defensive positions of the “black” will be deployed to the West and North-West of Palmyra. The importance of retention Chuvashia, because based on it you can constantly strain the flank of the Syrian group. The same applies to the area of al-Shaer, in the case of the SAA will move along the route Ties-Palmyra the ancient city.
In General, the parties expected the talks in Astana on January 23 and subsequent negotiations between Russia and USA that somehow will clarify many important points for understanding the future course of the winter-spring campaign of 2017. Prerequisites to a complete end of hostilities of course not – it is about changing foreign policy situation around Syria and the definition of the list of hot fronts, where fighting will continue and which will be created by military means the conditions for the subsequent peace talks.This negotiation step is necessary to consolidate a new military-political reality established after the defeat of the “green” in the battle for Aleppo.
In terms of long-term strategy, the loss of Palmyra of course greatly complicates the preparations for the unblocking of Deir ez-Zor. This is actually the main operational problem with the loss of Palmyra. But as we have shown failure at Palmyra and Tabqa stretched far ahead of “gut” with open flanks, quite vulnerable to attacks on communications and for planning the return of Palmyra, or a more ambitious hike to Deir-ez-Zor have to solve a non-trivial task of protecting the flanks of the advancing group. But it is rather a long-term problem.It appears that without preliminary Stripping of the oil fields North of Palmyra in the direction Itree, to launch an offensive in Deir ez-Zor is unlikely to succeed. While the SAA deals with more mundane things associated with the stabilization of the front in Eastern HOMS.