" … that state of affairs does not satisfy the SAA which ordered the Republican Guard’s 102nd Brigade and 416th Regiment to fully liberate Eastern Guta from the Islamists. SAA is supported by National Defense Force (NDF) militias and Palestinian Liberation Army units.
It appears that the attack will be focused on the Tel Ferzat heights and the agricultural college campus. These are the militants’ last strongholds in eastern Damascus.
Commandos of the 103rd Republican Guard Brigade are performing beyond reproach in Latakia’s north-east, where they are operating with naval infantry and volunteer formation support. Nearly whole region is now clear of the militants.
Syrian commandos forced Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham off two key heights and approached the border with Turkey which is now only 2km distant. A few more heights remain to be cleared of the Islamists.
Earlier reports that the main supply road to Aleppo was cleared proved premature. Tiger Forces did indeed clear most of the towns along the “road of life”, however it still remains under militant fire.
Tiger Forces with Hezbollah support finally threw ISIS out of Al-Hamam. The commandos entered the village last evening and then forced the militants to abandon it. Militant counter-attack had failed, with the loss of 30 of their comrades. Additional 40 were wounded.
Stubborn fighting against ISIS is ongoing along the Sheikh Hilal–Ithriyah road, which is a secondary supply route into Aleppo. SAA forces received significant air support which struck militant reinforcement columns coming from Hama. It is expected the opening of both routes is only a matter of hours, and then the path to Aleppo will be once again clear." South Front
I am beginning to appreciate this "cease-fire." In essence the R+6 war against jihadis will continue as will the US coalition struggle with IS. At the same time TTG's favorite Kurds (with the help of our GB brothers) will press forward with efforts as fine as the recent victory at Shaddadi. Politically, the Russian coordination center at Lattakia has hung out the welcome banner for more or less non-jihadi resistance groups. this is splitting off those groups from the jihadis whom, we should remember, are still legitimate targets and objectives for air and ground action. At the same time, a somewhat reduced operational tempo provides an opportunity to rest and refit troops/militias committed too long to continuous combat. pl
"Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Iraqi army and police posts on the western outskirts of Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 12 security forces and seizing positions in a grain silo and a cemetery, officials said.
The largest assault near the capital in months was still raging, said security officials who blamed Islamic State. A news agency that supports Islamic State said the group had launched a "wide attack" in Abu Ghraib.
Suicide bombers in vehicles and on foot attacked government positions 25 km (15 miles) from the centre of Baghdad and next to the international airport, government officials said.
Dozens of militants driving Humvees and pickup trucks fixed with machine guns attacked from the nearby Islamic State-controlled areas of Garma and Falluja, army and police sources added." Reuters
Well, so much for Iraqi government domination of the western approaches to Baghdad. The notion is laughable. IS in Northern Arabia may collapse from defeat in Syria and at the hands of the YPG Kurds. In that event the Iraqi "army" may re-occupy Mosul but that would be problematic in itself since IMO the Shia government in Baghdad will continue to oppress any and all Sunnis available for oppression. Like a leopard they cannot change their essential spots. pl
" … the Saudis may be applying pressure to secure the release of a member of the royal family held in Lebanon since October on drug charges. Abdul-Mohsen al-Waleed Al Saud was detained in Beirut after authorities seized two tons of amphetamine Captagon pills before they were loaded onto his private plane.
On Wednesday, a Lebanese prosecutor indicted Al Saud of dealing and using drugs. Other analysts suggest Saudi Arabia may be seeking to compensate for its declining hold over Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia’s influence has been dwindling in Lebanon since early 2011 when Sa’ad Hariri was ousted. For the past two years, the Saudi-backed March 14 coalition has failed to see one of their leaders elected president. Now they are nominating legislator Suleiman Franjieh, a close ally of Hezbollah, for the country’s top job.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah is boosted by recent victories in Syria. The resistance movement is fighting alongside the Syrian army against Takfiri militants supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies. “Saudi Arabia is feeling for a good reason that its influence in Lebanon is on the decline,” said Ayham Kamel, a Middle East expert with the political risk and consulting firm, Eurasia Group. “The Saudi message is don’t think you can translate victories in Syria and control the system in Lebanon. We have plenty of leverage through our economic muscles,” Kamel told the Associated Press." South Front
The Saudis should stick to their usual practice of the widespread distribution of money in Lebanon for the purpose of buying influence. This is their customary form of action and Lebanese of all confessions and classes are more than willing to participate. At the same time, most Christians, Sunni Muslims, Hizbullah and all the other associated Shia forces in Lebanon are determined to remain free of Saudi political control. This determination will not, of course, prevent the acceptance of Saudi money delivered through various "laundries." pl