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26 August 2017

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b

The latest number on Idleb I got was 9,000 HTS/al-Qaeda and a total of 25,000 from 70 groups fighting under HTS command. I believe that half of those 25,000 are local village bullies who would lay down arms if they see a real SAA wave coming upon them.

mike

Nine thousand Daesh in Syria is well within the range of the Coalition estimate also. Major General Rupert Jones briefed the press three days ago that there were from five to ten thousand still left in the MERV (Middle Euphrates River Valley).

I doubt seriously that there are a large number of foreign fighters within that number. Like b mentioned of the locals in Idlib, the locals in the MERV will fade fast. Some may even try to sign up with Assad's tribal militias.

I am waiting for the vise to be applied in the MERV, Iraqi going up the river valley while the SAA comes downriver. Daesh cannot escape to the north, SDF will stop them there. And if elements flee south into the desert they are easily targeted by airstrikes.

turcopolier

mike

So, what is "the MERV?" the Middle Euphrates River Valley? I doubt very much that jihadis will be allowed to join "Assad's tribal militias." The state security forces will be winnowing through these groups looking for them, and then they get Article 45. pl

Ante

According to various sources, the isis of the pocket next to Lebanon, but not the southernmost isis pocket next to Israel, have asked to be re-located to Deir-e-Zor. Sure seems like the place for their final conventional battle in Syria.

Bandolero

pl

I agree that the HTS cannot be talked down out of the tree. The interesting question here is for me: who is going to take them down from the tree.

As far as I see the situation Ahrar al Sham should be in the lead. But it's tricky - perhaps impossible - to get them doing it. They were just defeated when trying to take on HTS in Idlib. So, if they want to try again they definitely need support. Who's going to be that: Turkey, the SAA, Russia? To me it looks like as this is one of the major issues currently negotiated about. I recently read - somewhere in Russian media I believe it was - that the Qatari DM recently said that Qatar supports "the US-Russian-Turkish" plannings for Syria.

I think that may bring a good dynamic into the efforts to enlist Ahrar al Sham and it's coalition to take on HTS but the open question is still: who'll back Ahrar al Sham in doing that and who'll take on HTS if Ahrar Al Sham still sides with HTS.

mike

Colonel -

MERV: Yes.

Article 45: Yes for the hard core and the Assad haters. But that is more likely to be article 9mm than 45. Assad has offered amnesty in the past, and may again. But he should limit it to the native born and only if they are vetted by tribal elders.

turcopolier

mike

I am old fashioned, Article 45 for me. pl

Lemur

5th corp reinforcements are building up in the Al-Sukhnah area in anticipation for another push East after the last ISIS pocket in central Syria is eliminated (the first directly to the north-west of As-Sukknah was closed in the last 36 hours).

This will probably be the first of many reinforcements to take their places along side the shortened frontline. Those NDF and Republican Guard Units protecting Western Homs and Hama from ISIS incursions, and the southern side of the Salamiyah Ithryia highway are the minimum of forces whose defensive posture has been rendered obsolete by the recent gains.

aleksandar

1 - HTS Al-Qa'ida forces trying to break through across the Salamiya to Aleppo supply road to open an escape road to ISIS seems to have been local commander decision. First no CAS from RuAF or SyAF against HTS. Secondly it is said that two HTS battalions have been " punished ", HTS cutting salaries for 2 months.But TBC
2 - Southern Raqqa countryside : most of Tribal forces losses came from the first wave, namely VBIED. I mean before Tribal forces can retreat.It was, I guess, one of the tactical improvement coming from Russia, ” lesson learned” from chechnya ? Maybe. Don’t try to hold ground in case of ENI offensive, encounter the first wave, then retreat to a 2nd well prepared defensive line. It was perfectly done during AQ Hama attack. But VBIEDs are a devastating kill tool. Only air monitoring ( drone, heli ) or ground monitoring ( short-medium range portable radar ) are efficient.
3 - The only reason about this south Rusafa attack ( combined with the other near T2 ), was probably to force SAA to send reinforcements there to allows ISIS to soften East Hama pocket and escape to HTS zones.
But true as long as there is always a sort of ISIS C&C to plan such tactical operation.
4 -As Colonel Lang points out,it shows that ISIS is no more able to set up a two waves offensives. Usual military scheme " Break,Conquer,Control,Exploit " is out of range for ISIS due to lack of manpower.Good news indeed !

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