SF Summary of Syria situation


"Now, Syria could be divided into 7 sectors controlled by various parties:

  1. The Syrian government, backed by its allies – Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, controls the biggest part of the country, including the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Deir Ezzor, Damascus, Latakia, as-Suwayda and Tartus. However, the militant-held pockets inside the government-held area pose a significant security threat. The situation is especially complicated in Eastern Ghouta and the Yarmouk Refugee Camp. The pockets of Bayt Jinn, Jayrud and Rastan are relatively calm.
  2. The situation is complicated in Daraa where Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies are in control of a part of the provincial capital. The Russia-US de-escalation zone agreement in southern Syria allowed the intensity of fighting there to decrease. Despite this, clashes erupt from time to time in Daraa city and near the Golan Heights. Militants in southern Syria are mostly backed by Jordan, the US and Israel. Tel Aviv often uses tensions in the area to justify its strikes against Syrian forces and describes its support to local militants as a humanitarian assistance to the local population. It is interesting to note that Israel has no problems with the ISIS-linked Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, which operates near its forces. The so-called local armed opposition does not seek to fight ISIS there either.
  3. The at-Tanf area on the Syrian-Iraqi border is controlled by the US-led coalition and a few US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups. FSA units are concentrated around the US garrison at at-Tanf and in the nearby refugee camp. The US says that it needs this garrison to fight ISIS while in fact it is just preventing Syria and Iraq from using the Damascus-Baghdad highway as a supply line. US forces respond with airstrikes and shelling to any Syrian Arab Army (SAA) attempts to reach at-Tanf.
  4. Northeastern Syria, including the cities of Raqqa, Tabqah, Hasakah and a part of Qamishli, is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Kurdish militias YPG and YPJ are a core of the SDF and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) de-facto controls this area. A notable number of US military facilities and troops in this area are an important factor contributing to the SDF’s confidence. Some aggressive SDF statements against Damascus can serve as an illustration of this fact.
  5. Northwestern Syria is also controlled by the SDF. However, the US influence in this area is lower and local Kurdish militias maintain better military relations with the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance. They also face more pressure from Turkey and its proxies.
  6. Turkey and pro-Turkish militant groups control a chunk of the border area, including al-Bab, Azaz and Jarabulus, in northern Syria. Ankara has a strong position there and pro-Turkish militants have repeatedly clashed with SDF members near Tall Rifat.
  7. Turkish forces are also deployed at the contact line with the SDF in the province of Idlib. However, almost the entire province is still controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). This means that Ankara and the terrorist group have reached a kind of agreement over the deployment of the Turkish troops. Ankara actively uses various militant groups to pressure Kurdish forces, which it sees a part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK operates in Turkey and northern Iraq and has been seeking for a long time to establish an independent Kurdish state there."  SF



This is as good as I can do on an overall summary.  pl 


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28 Responses to SF Summary of Syria situation

  1. Liza says:

    Thank you so much for this update, Col. Lang. This website one of very few accurate sources of information about the conflict in Syria, so you perform an invaluable service.
    I was hoping that you might be able to briefly answer a question: what is the status of Iranian and Hezbollah forces. Basically, 1) what are the sizes of their forces and 2) where are they fighting ?

  2. turcopolier says:

    IMSWAG, the Iranians have maybe 2 thousand men in Syria and Hizbullah 5,00 or so. pl

  3. r whitman says:

    Are these positions static or can we expect significant changes in the next year or so. Would you or any correspondent to this bog hazard a guess.

  4. GeneO says:

    What’s next? If I were king Idlib would be next. Plus close the Mayadin/Bukamal pocket along the Euphrates. Then sniff out the daesh and HTS sleeper throughout the country.

  5. Southfront has put up a really excellent 45-minute long documentary on Hizballah which I advise everyone to view. They analyze the history, organizational structure, and military capabilities of Hizballah including the training of Hizballah cadres and the indoctrination of youth members, as well as the history of its influence in the region.
    SouthFront Documentary about Hezbollah (MUST SEE!)
    Two points:
    1) I was a bit surprised that the total strength of the Hizballah “army” is estimated at over 60,000 including reserves. They also have their own tank regiment now and more extensive artillery units than they had in 2006, as a result of their involvement in Syria. They also have ATGM anti-tank missiles mounted on all terrain vehicles.
    2) They have been restructuring their missile arsenal, swapping out older Russian and Chinese rockets by using them up in Syria and replacing them with more modern Iranian and Syrian missiles. They are estimated to be able to deliver 1,600 rockets a day into Israel as compared with 200 in the 2006 war and probably cover most of Israel with those missiles.
    Due to extensive video buffering, I’d suggest downloading the file from the download button available. Be warned that the file is about 1GB, so depending on your DSL or cable speed it could take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to download.

  6. Mike says:

    The real issue will be, once the pockets within the SAA controlled areas are settled and or controlled, thereby significantly increasing available manpower, what will happen to the eastern bank of the Euphrates Dier Ezzor province. The SDF neither has the manpower nor the will to hold traditionally Arab lands. No amount of American money and promises can prompt them to hold an area they are unwanted in. There is no way the US generals will be able/or willing to train and equip what is basically defeated ISIS troops. Or do I give them too much credit? I see the Russians/SAA cutting a revenue deal with the SDF much to the chagrin to the US. The history of the region is buying loyalty and negotiating the cost. The House of Saud is in no position to dispense such largess that widely.

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And they are 10-feet tall.

  8. turcopolier says:

    r qhitman
    I don’t think the situation is static. pl

  9. eakens says:

    Iran has lost over 1K soldiers in Syria. I would think that the native Iranian contingent is larger than 2K men.

  10. turcopolier says:

    Why? They keep replacing people. I haven’t seen any big actions that were fought by major Iranian units. pl

  11. aleksandar says:

    Maybe this will help to find data
    Fatemiyoun are afghans
    Zaynabiyoun are Pakistanis
    Haydariyoun are Iraqis
    IRGC are Iranians Hezbollah are Lebanese,Syrian,Iraqi

  12. aleksandar says:

    Iranian advisers are in Syria since 2011.An average of 150 KIA each years. Take into account possible multiple KIA due to arty strikes. Not so much. The only case of iranian soldiers heavily involved in action seems to be Al Bukamal liberation.

  13. aleksandar says:

    Operation ongoing in BeitJinn pocket/
    Syria|n Government take control over “Kafr Hawr” village in frame-work of reconciliation with militants. • “Beit Tema” & “Beit Saber” are in process of reconciliation (truce).
    IMO we will see more and more reconciliation process as the demise of HTS will be more and more obvious.

  14. Adrestia says:

    There are more cargo flights from Iran than a month ago. About 180 tons/day now to 140 tons/day before.
    IMO the cause is the increased tension in Lebanon, but it could also be for Syria.

  15. Adrestia says:

    or download it from youtube. The following download is much smaller (169Mb)
    If this doesn’t work:

  16. confusedponderer says:

    that’s an interesting number you mention – 160 or 140 tons a day by air freight? What’s the problem?
    Ah well. It is a problem if one boldly assumes that if Iran transports any freight, then must be a threat, or so I assume. After all, Iran is evil, and whenever they act, they do act evil.
    But then, logistically speaking, is that load you mentioned – 140 to 160 tons a day – so much, and that much?
    Just to get things into perspective – to carry 140 or 160 tons of load … well, I wonder … I assume it would take – what – some 10 to 15 trucks from Turkey to transport an amount like that. To do that, the US would only need to use, say, just three C-17 transports.
    Now, of course, the US would only transport aid, clothing, food and medicine.
    And, of course, since Turkey is so much a NATO partner (who just deliberately dumbly withdrew troops from a NATO exercise in Norwegen) and interested in peace that’s not happening … well, and even if it happens the Turks most certainly would only transport things that Syrians REALLY need – food, cookies, posters of Lord Erdogan, turkish flags, korans, clothing and medicine. To get the idea:
    Now, if Iran transports anything, it’s the beginning of the end of the world. Of course. NATO and the US would never ever do such things.

  17. turcopolier says:

    I judge the Iranian presence in Syria to be about; training, advice and logistics with only a few small combat units present. There seem to be some Iranians engaged in direct combat at Abu Kamal and west of Khanassar. pl

  18. turcopolier says:

    Are these casualties KIA? pl

  19. turcopolier says:

    My estimate on Iranian numbers in Syria is based on IRGC and Iranian Army personnel, not Shia militias. pl

  20. kooshy says:

    Colonel from what I read in Iranian news your estimate is correct, volunteers, Afghans and other shia participants are not officially counted in or considered as Iranian Artesh or IRGC troops. sounds like the south flank attack and capturing of Al Bukamal was commanded /coordinated by General Sulimani, he just visited the troops there.

  21. Adrestia says:

    You assume a lot.
    I don’t imply anything. Its just what I notice. Its more now than last month. BTW part is done by the Syrian Air Force, so IMO military equipment or people.
    These are regular logistical routes by air for high priority freight (or people) I’ve posted this before. BTW its more than the Russians transport each day.

  22. Adrestia says:

    The Russians and the Iranians are ALL the cargo flights that go to Syria. But then again you probably knew that. When they increase structurally in frequency IMO it is significant.
    The Iranians can put everything on a ship. Sail past Yemen, have a friendly tea with the Saudi’s, to the Suez canal past Israel and unload in Lebanon or Syria. Israel won’t bother them.
    Maybe its better when the take the route around Africa. Who cares about a few weeks?
    Or put everything in trucks. Nothing will happen en route. The Turks or the Kurds or the US wont mind. Always handy to get some biometric scans and the ability to inspect and maybe alter the cargo.
    BTW 3 C17s is a lot outside a major US airbase. When there are 3 C17 flights a day to another place, you can bet something is happening or will happen soon.

  23. aleksandar says:

    Agree, they first came to create NDF akin IRCG.

  24. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yup, the Shia Internationale.

  25. outthere says:

    Trump and Putin had a phone chat, covering many topics including Syria. Too much to restate, worth a full read.
    Official Russian report is here:
    Mercouris analyzes the conversation here:

  26. eakens says:

    I recall an article in either tasnim or fars indicating that over 1,000 Iranians had died in Syria. Obviously I can’t verify that number, but I do believe those numbers more so than the much larger numbers put out by VOA and other tainted sources. Nonetheless, I do agree that the number is but a portion of what the overall number of Iranian-sponsored military forces is, which includes many Afghans as Kooshy indicated.

  27. turcopolier says:

    Is this 1,000 number KIA or KIA, WIA and MIA? pl

  28. kooshy says:

    Colonel i have not yet encounter a news indicating numbers on any MIA or WIA.

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