The US and the Kurds continue in turn to expand the bridgehead on the southern Bank of the Euphrates, and continued to occupy towns in the assumption of Raqqa. The supply of equipment for SDF/YPG are continuing, in desert areas, where the actions of mobile groups, small arms and ammunition dropped from a military transport aircraft. Operations of US special forces supported by helicopters and planes with bases in Rojava. In General, everything goes in line with the old trends associated with the creation of operational assumptions associated with the assault on Raqqa. Formerly the deadline is obviously frustrated that the Caliphate can certainly burn itself into an asset, but strategically it doesn’t change anything. Winning 1-2 months is unlikely to allow the Caliphate to significantly change the balance of forces around their capital.
Overall, the US is trying in the North of Syria to promote its interests through SDF/YPG and to the South – through the NSA. Former “freedom fighters” are now considered as “used condoms” and the dubious right to lead them now divide Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The territory controlled by the Caliphate all parties to the conflict are now considered as a valuable prize, which carries with it the prospects for expanding areas of control. After signing the agreement in Astana, we can expect more active involvement of Syria, Russia and Iran in the race for territorial control.
The Release of Tabqa will allow the Americans and the Kurds more actively develop operations to the South of Raqqa for its environment, so that today’s success (prepared by the previous weeks of fighting) is an important step on the road to the direct assault on Raqqa. US strategy associated with the environment of Raqqa, though with difficulty, but it works. The militants could only slow the implementation of this plan, but not to disrupt it.
In Northern Hama the front has stabilized. The militants went after the failures of mid-April, fell back to the area of Lataminah and Morek, which is reflected in the rate of advance of the SAA, which is now bogged down in battles for the towns South of Lataminah and South-East of Morek. If in these fights, SAA will be able to grind the main forces of the militants, before the Syrians will open good prospects associated with access to the Central regions of Idlib.
Beating off the attack of DAESH, SDF requested an airstrike, but gave the wrong coordinates, or by the moment of impact, the front line had managed to move. In the end, the American planes bombed on their own. As a result, SDF/YPG (basically the Kurds) 18 killed and a few dozen injured. The incident is officially recognized by the Pentagon, though the Americans all piled into SDF – for failing to properly give coordinates. In principle, an ordinary episode, but not the first. Similar incidents took place in the assault Manjib, Fallujah and Mosul, not to mention the “erroneous” attacks on concentrations of civilians.
The story with chemical attack develops quite traditional and expected. After stuffing, the militants and the West rushed to accuse “bloody Assad regime” and called the UN security Council, launched a campaign in the press, and trump even said that he changed his attitude to Assad, simultaneously kicking Obama for a prior policy and recommending Russia to change its attitude toward Assad. Russia of course denies everything, in the UN security Council prospects for any anti-Syrian resolution in the objective investigation as nobody is interested, so that the subject “chemical weapons” will be traditionally another element of the information war.
Fierce clashes are ongoing between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and ISIS fighters on the road between the town of Tabqa, the city of Raqqa, and the Tabqa Military Airbase where SDF fighters have repelled and ISIS attack on their positions between Tabqa and Raqqa.
The operation in the area of Tabqa is an important stage in the preparation of the assault on Raqqa, which theoretically could begin as early as April, although it is possible that the case will be postponed until may, when it will have accumulated enough power for many months of the campaign to assault the city itself. By the evening of 25 March began to receive reports that DAESH militants have left the airbase Tabqa and departed.
The Syrian army continues to develop the successful attack East of Aleppo. One group comes along the banks of the Euphrates to the administrative borders of the province of Raqqa, along the way, pushing the militants in the South.
In turn, the formation of SDF/YPG continues to advance toward the Euphrates to the East of Raqqa. The city itself is actively not touched – the main effort concentrated on the capture of key towns, roads and bridges on the Euphrates, that is guaranteed to cut through the logistics of militants between Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor.
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.
Kurdistan24 team in Syria’s Kurdish areas (Rojava) interviewed officers and soldiers in a village recently surrendered to the Syrian army.
Mihemed Salhab, a Syrian army lieutenant heading units in the village of Hmeira between Manbij and al-Bab, told Kurdistan24 they made an agreement with the Manbij Military Council (MMC), an ally to the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
After a ruthless and exhausting 6 years of war in Syria, only the most ideologically strong militias have managed to flourish, absorbing various fragmented rebel factions and uniting them under strict philosophies. On the frontlines of Raqqa, a battle is raging between the American-backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Islamic State (ISIS).
The intensification of the operation to retake Raqqah will push Washington to increase its military presence in Syria, deploying more troops, artillery pieces and other military equipment. These forces will likely be redeployed from Iraq after the end of the anti-ISIS operation in the western part of Mosul.
Russia in this situation, advocates of Assad, bargaining for a new territorial gains in Northern Syria and striving to achieve interaction between Assad and the Kurds to pull the Kurds out of a too strong alliance with the United States. At this stage, the Kurds have already passed the Syrian army three villages to the southwest of Manbij, but fully buffer zone is still not formed. While to the West of Manbij fighting continues between the Kurds and the FSA, where both parties bear the loss in killed, wounded and prisoners. There are losses in clashes between the SAA and FSA.
Winners and losers are emerging in what may be the final phase of the Syrian civil war as anti-Isis forces prepare for an attack aimed at capturing Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital in Syria. Kurdish-led Syrian fighters say they have seized part of the road south of Raqqa, cutting Isis off from other its territory further east.
The Turkish Armed Forces and aligned militant factions delt a devastating blow to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) today as the Euphrates Shield forces not only captured Ulashi village but also killed and captured a number of Kurdish fighters.
Moments ago, Turkish-backed militants also captured the neighboring village of Bughaz.
Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy, Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, has confirmed a deal between Russia, the Syrian government and the Kurds in Manbij against Turkey and Turkish-backed rebels.
“The detachments of the Syrian army approached the south-west areas of the city of Menbij, which is under control of Kurdish militia groups,” he said.
“Today, the Russian Centre for reconciliation of the opposing sides sent the first humanitarian convoy with food, medicines and items of the first necessity to Menbij,” he added.
The United States also is not interested in Erdogan taking Manbij, so a few SOF units crossed the Euphrates and moved to the North from Manija to indicate where borders that Erdogan should not go.
Erdogan, however, has not left hopes to take Manbij, but the current situation puts him in a difficult position, as the active actions against Manbij can lead to clashes with SAA and Russian and American military. Certainly, the theme Manbij will be one of the most important in the discussion of the Syrian issue between Putin and Erdogan on March 9-10. Russia will certainly try to convince Erdogan that Manbij he does not need. Erdogan will listen to reason? We will see in a week.
Erdogan was not impressed by the demonstration of us special forces in the area Manbij. As a consequence, the Kurds played a different card. The representatives of the SDF invited the SAA to take a large piece of territory between Turks and Manbij, forming a kind of buffer zone, which will cover Manbij from the West, as Erdogan obviously does not want to go to war with Syria and its allies.
In General, we are seeing the active phase of the process of redistribution of spheres of influence in Northern Syria.
Overall, the local TVD one way or another in the near future will have significant changes that need to consolidate a new balance of power after the Caliphate was driven out of Northern Syria. It is unlikely that the attack on the Manbij will start earlier on 9-10 March, when Moscow will host talks between Putin and Erdogan, and where there should be follow-up steps to consolidate the spheres of influence of the parties in Northern Syria and obligations under the Syrian settlement. Though completely to exclude it is impossible, because of the tendency of Erdogan to impulsive and adventurous actions.