Saturday, 4 March 2017

Syrian War Report – March 3, 2017: US-backed Forces Surrender Wide Areas Near Manbij To Syrian Army

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The Syrian army, backed up by the Russian Aerospace Forces, liberated the ancient city of Palmyra, including the Palmyra Airport from ISIS on March 2. Syrian army servicemen have been examining the historic part of Palmyra with the aim of demining the city.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) primarily consisting of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) will hand over wide areas west of the northern Syrian town of Manbij to the Syrian army, according to a statement released by the so-called Manbij Miltiary Council. The SDF wants to use Syrian army troops as a buffer against Turkish-backed militant groups in northern Syria and refers that this decision is made after talks with “Russia”, aiming to use the Russian and Syrian military and diplomatic capabilities to defend itself from Turkey.
Just in August 2016, Talal Silo, a spokesman for the SDF, argued that the US is the only SDF partner and the group was not going coordinate anti-ISIS efforts or even negotiate with any other side without a signal from the Americans. It seems the SDF/YPG dramatically changed its attitude in March 2017 after it had became clear that photos of few US Special Forces troops were not enough to prevent Turkey from aiming to seize Manbij and Tell Rifat.
Turkey sees the YPG as just a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which Turkey has been at war almost continuously since 1984. In turn, the PKK seeks to establish an independent Kurdish state in southern Turkey. There are still no official reports which areas the Syrian army will control in the Manbij countryside. However, there are two options:
  1. The Syrian army enters villages west of Manbij. In this case, Turkey-led forces will be able to attack Manbij only from the direction of Jarabulus if they want to avoid confrontation with the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance.
  2. Or the Syrian army enters villages west and north of Manbi, preventing possible Turkish military operations in both directions.
In any case, one problem will remain. Ankara-led forces will still be able to attack the YPG/SDF in Tell Rifat. Last months, there were some Russian-mediated negotiations between the government and the YPG in the area, but YPG sources were fast to deny that any agreement had been reached.
Meanwhile, the Syrian army’s Tiger Forces have liberated Alisah, Um Al-Amad, Barlin, Abu Tawil, Rahmaniya, Qaziqli and some nearby points from ISIS in the province.

Syrian War Report – March 2, 2017: Syrian Army Is On Verge Of Liberation Of Palmyra

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Voiceover by Harold Hoover
On March 1, Syrian government forces made significant gains against ISIS terrorists in the area of Palmyra, seizing the Palmyra Triangle, Qatari Villa, Aqueduct, and a number of hills: Jabal Muhtar, Jabal Qassoun, and Jabal al-Asafir.
Government troops also engaged ISIS units in the Palmyra Castle and took control of it. The rapid advances of the Syrian army and its allies were actively backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces. If the operation continues with the same speed, Palmyra will be soon liberated from ISIS terrorists.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), consisting mostly of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), have seized over 60 villages and killed 172 ISIS members in eastern Syria, ARANews reported citing a spokesman for the SDF.
The SDF is now developing an offensive against ISIS in a wide area east of Raqqah. The goal of the operation is to isolate the ISIS stronghold from the eastern flank and to cut off the roads linking Raqqah, and Deir Ezzor. If this is done, this will put additional pressure on ISIS units storming Syrian army positions in Deir Ezzor.
Pro-Turkish militant groups have captured two more villages – Tall Turin and Al-Qarah – from SDF units west of Manbij.
Meanwhile, reports appear that Ankara-backed militant groups are also preparing to storm the key town of Tell Rifat controlled by the SDF.
Tensions between pro-Turkish forces and US-backed SDF units have been rapidly escalating since Turkey took control of al-Bab earlier this month.
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