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Syria closes the trap: ISIS encircled in central Syria

Final collapse of ISIS in central Syria is underway

One of the most ambitious military operations launched over the course of the Syria war is now rapidly approaching its climax, with news today that Syrian troops advancing from Resafa in the north and from Al-Sukhnah in the south have largely succeeded in surrounding ISIS fighters in a large stretch territory in central Syria east of Salamiyah, an important government held town in Hama province.

This operation to trap ISIS fighters in what is now essentially a pocket or – using Russian military parlance – a ‘cauldron’ has been underway ever since the strategically important town of Al-Sukhnah in central Syria was captured a week ago.

A good idea of the nature of this pocket or ‘cauldron’ can be obtained from this map published by the Al-Masdar news agency.

Some words of caution are in order.

The Al-Masdar map gives an impression of a territory wholly surrounded on all sides by Syrian troops.

This is an exaggeration.  As is always the case in the Syrian war, the Syrian army simply does not have the necessary number of troops to carry out a total encirclement of this sort.  It is not even confirmed that the Syrian troops advancing from Resafa in the north and from Al-Sukhnah in the south have actually met with each other.

A more accurate way of describing what has happened is that the Syrian army has now gained control of all the main roads leading into and out of the pocket, and that all the towns and villages surrounding the pocket now accept the authority of the Syrian government.

This makes it all but impossible for large columns of ISIS fighters to enter or leave the pocket, or to be resupplied there.

Indeed movement of large groups of ISIS fighters is now also difficult, as their movements are now being constantly tracked by Russian and Syrian aircraft and Russian aerial drones which are patrolling the skies above the pocket.

Obviously individual or small groups of ISIS fighters can still move around or enter or leave the pocket, and over the new few days or weeks some may try to do so.  However Syrian troops and militia located around the pocket will be alert to precisely this danger, and will aim to track hunt down any ISIS fighters who try to enter or leave.

Indeed there were even reports back in February that the Russians have trained a special Syrian army unit named significantly the “ISIS Hunters” for precisely this role, a fact which incidentally shows how carefully the Syrian army’s operations over the last few months have been planned.

According to Syrian troops interviewed by CNN many of the ISIS fighters trapped in the pocket had previously fled there from ISIS’s former capital of Raqqa, which is now in the process of being liberated by the US backed Kurdish militia.

Many of these ISIS fighters are said to be very young, and to be putting up a fanatical resistance, still launching hit-and-run attacks on the main highway south from Aleppo whenever they can, as they have in fact been doing from this area for years.

Fully securing this highway – which ISIS and AL-Qaeda led Jihadi fighters actually managed to cut in the weeks before the Russian intervened in Syria in September 2015 – is an urgent priority for the Syrian government, and explains the high priority given to this operation.

According to the reports which have been appearing in the Al-Masdar news agency and in other Middle East media for the last few weeks, the chief ISIS stronghold inside the pocket is the town of ‘Uqayrbat.

With the main roads offering the main escape routes from the pocket now closed, the Syrian military apparently expects the ISIS fighters trapped in the pocket to fall back and concentrate on ‘Uqayrbat.

The capture of this town will therefore be a major operation, which when completed will signal the final success of the Syrian army’s operation to eliminate ISIS completely in central Syria.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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August 19, 2017

Israel and its puppet the US have been extraordinarily quite lately concerning the SAA’s advances. They’re predictable and can a “mistaken” attack not be far off? Of course now that the Russians have adapted to these terrorist antics and now provide support aircraft for the SAA’s ground forces perhaps these two cowards know better? .

August 19, 2017

Nice update Alex. Please also see below .. this is a reply from Syrianperspective analyst ‘Canthama’ to my question regarding US-SDF interference/disruption to SAA & allies progressive approach to the liberation of DeZ city … “… can’t say the SDF won’t try a thing in DeZ Province, but I doubt they will try it before Raqqa is finished, simply they do not have the nbrs for two offensives and BTW the Raqqa campaign has been extremely bloody, SDF lost an incredible amount of fighters, under reported of course. The Hama/Homs pockets must be cleared of ISIS, it is a dagger… Read more »

John Mason
John Mason
Reply to  ColinNZ
August 19, 2017

Thanks Colin, that extract is exactly the type of information that needs to be told, very logical.

Daisy Adler
Daisy Adler
August 19, 2017

“Syria closes the trap: ISIS encircled in central Syria”

I see here the Russian strategics hand. Syrian Army has now priceless counselors.
“Russians have trained a special Syrian army unit named significantly the “ISIS Hunters” for precisely this role, a fact which incidentally shows how carefully the Syrian army’s operations over the last few months have been planned.”

Precisely. There is order and pre-planned action. How things have changed since September 2015, when Russia air force became active on Syria front !

Daisy Adler
Daisy Adler
August 19, 2017

In the news: Syrian Brigadier General Suheil Hassan has been awarded by the Russian defense minister for conducting a successful parachute landing behind ISIS defense lines and in the capture of Al-Hadar. The operation was carried out by the Syrian army on Deir ez-Zor, August 12.
Russian armed forces’ chief of staff Valery Gerasimov handed an honorary weapon and a letter from Minister Shoigu to the general during his visit to the Hmeimim airbase in Latakia.

August 19, 2017

Very nicely done Syria and Russia.
Very well done indeed.

Daisy Adler
Daisy Adler
August 20, 2017

Latest News:
“In order to prevent Daesh (ISIS) militants from escaping to Deir ez-Zor, aircraft from the Russian Air Force have been conducting both day and night aerial reconnaissance with the use of drones. Russian warplanes
are attacking terrorists’ equipment, including heavy weaponry and armored vehicles,” Russian Defense Ministry report.
730 Daesh targets were destroyed in the operation, including bunkers, ammo depots, weapons factories and armored vehicle facilities.
Video showing the use of high-precision weapons against terrorists near Akerbat, including guided missiles and smart bombs:

Daisy Adler
Daisy Adler
Reply to  Daisy Adler
August 20, 2017

Russian Air force attacking and destroying the “Jebhan Al-Nusra” (Al Qaeda) HQ in
Hama, Syria.
Waiting patiently for all the terrorists to enter the building …

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