Syria – 23 August 2017 – a second pocket in Homs/Hama


"Pro-government forces, led by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces, have liberated the Dahik Mount at the Sukhna-Resafa road and created the second ISIS pocket in the province of Homs. Now, ISIS terrorists are encircled in the two separate ISIS-held areas: in the area of Uqayrabat and in the area northeast of Palmyra."  South Front


Unless HTS (AQ) chooses to attack to open a gap from Idlib Province (green colored on map) or the IS forces in these two large pockets manage to break out to the east, they are doomed,  Good.  Months ago, someone on SST laughed at the idea that the SAA and friends (R+6) could conduct operations on a grand scale like this.  Evidently, whoever claimed that,was wrong.   These decisive battles and maneuvers are destroying IS.  IS forces were severely damaged at Mosul and Raqqa.  The campaign for Homs/Hama will finish them off.   pl

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30 Responses to Syria – 23 August 2017 – a second pocket in Homs/Hama

  1. b says:

    I believe that ISIS forces in Homs/Hama are scarce and insignificant in numbers. Deir Ezzor will be the next place where a large number of ISIS related forces (most probably locals) will be have to be countered. After that comes Mayadin which also has significant numbers. Both are dense cities and to liberate them will require lots of forces and blood.
    Decisive in the cities is the intelligence on the ground an the ability to hit any concentration from the air. The Russian air force is already quite busy doing that.
    A different problem comes up with the Omar oil field east of Deir Ezzor an north of the Euphrates. The U.S. wants to capture that as the economic base for its proxy (Kurdish) state in the north. The Syrian government needs the significant revenues from that field. I expect a severe clash of those interests.

  2. turcopolier says:

    when someone wins decisively, critics always say that the enemy were few or did not fight well. pl

  3. mike says:

    They also advanced down a secondary road past the winter palace of the Ummayyad Caliph al-Malik. If they continue on this route they will meet the M20 highway and cut off Daesh ENE of as-Sukhnah. It would also put them within 50km of as-Shula on the road to Deir ez-Zor.

  4. Huckleberry says:

    Anyone expect a spasm of violence (either directed or from the self-radicalized individuals or cells) throughout the West as it becomes apparent that the territorial caliphate is doomed?
    Or is that what is already happening in France, Spain, Finland, etc. ?

  5. ann says:

    Russia delivers battle tanks. The article does not say where the tanks were delivered (would it matter?). However, with the U.S. apparently determined to have a foot print in northern Syria, and with the generals in control of the U.S. agenda, Assad better move quickly as he did at al tanf to secure the north.

  6. Bill Herschel says:


  7. syria observer says:

    Can anyone explain why the non-IS pockets north of Homs, in Eastern Damascus, and near Al Mu’addamiyah have yet to be defeated? Are they protected by agreements? Or just not militarily important at this time?

  8. turcopolier says:

    syria observer
    I can’t. I would have eliminated them. I suppose the Syrians would have to explain it to you. pl

  9. Adrestia says:

    What about the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan whickh will be held next month?,_2017
    Is it possible that the YPG made an agreement with the US on independence too? They are not the obvious partners and their associations/similarities with the PKK imho cause tensions with Turkey. I keep wondering what the motivation of the YPG is for the partnership or is it just pragmatism.

  10. Red Cloud says:
    It looks like ISIS just overran a SAA camp somewhere in the Humaymah / T2 area.
    It’s hard to gauge exactly how much manpower ISIS has left. Who knows if they pulled experienced guys away from Deir Ezzor for this assault, but they seem to be concentrating more intensely on the T2 airbase and the area around it than central Syria. This tells me that ISIS is more concerned about a potential SAA advance from this area to the Euphrates than from central Syria. My best guess here is that Mayadin is their last stand, and not Deir Ezzor as others have suggested.

  11. Jony Kanuck says:

    In my roundup of Elijah Magnier posts last night he referred to the Syrian Army that started the civil war as ‘being trained in the barracks’ whereas the current army ‘has been trained on the battlefield’. He says the army doesn’t run now & will attack.
    I’d add from reading Col Cassad (machine translations don’t make for smooth reading) that after a lot of defections at the beginning of the war, quite a few units were re-mobbed as militia. Militia are not armed or trained to same level as regular forces. In particular, they’re not fit to lead attacks. The elite & now fewer regular units get moved around a lot.
    Somewhere else I read that Russians were not impressed either & have been wholesale retraining & reequipping the SAA.
    Russian influence may be present in the planning of this operation too. If we believe john Ericksen (the Soviet Russian version), during WW2, the Red Army surrounded elements of the German army 150 times!

  12. mike says:

    British MajGen Rupert Jones, briefed Pentagon press Corps earlier today. Jones is the Deputy Commander for Strategy and Sustainment for CJTF-OIR in Iraq and Syria. This was his last appearance as he will be finishing his tour shortly and returning to the UK.
    Briefing is 50 minutes long, mostly Q&A. Not much revealed that is not already in the news about Raqqa and Tal Afar. In response to journalist question, he did say that the Euphrates River Valley would be the final push against Daesh in Syria and in Iraq down to Haditha. When pressed for number of Daesh in that area he said they could only guess, but perhaps five to ten thousand.

  13. turcopolier says:

    jony canuck
    the various element of what make an army a capable force are not virtue loaded. If it works, it works. Once again I would recommend Clausewitz chapter on the Military virtue of an Army. pl

  14. turcopolier says:

    If you will remember I thought they should take that route rather than straight to Sukhnah. The Caliph al-Malik, eh? Interesting. pl

  15. Cortes says:

    Perhaps the article linked
    dealing with President Assad’s recent speech about his vision of the future of Syria may be of interest?

  16. The Porkchop Express says:

    As I understand it, all male Syrians of military age outside of Syria expect to be conscripted immediately upon return to Syria–depending upon where their loyalties were/are (which you can be sure, the Syrian government kept tabs on who stood where and when). So there are many Syrian males outside of the country who have been waiting on the sidelines to see where the scales tip. I know several in Europe who were outside of Syria in 2011; originally were with the protestors but as Russia intervened and the tables began to turn they became pro-Assad in short order. Some have returned and were conscripted as regular soldiers and some were sent to militias.
    The same goes for SAA soldiers that did defect in country at the outset and then returned–many were given a chance to be placed in militia units as the Syrian command wanted them to prove their loyalty to the SAG. The lack of manpower continues to be the SAA’s largest achilles heel. But as the R+6 continues to gain momentum, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more returning to to swell the ranks of the SAA/militias and take part as “liberators and conquerors.”

  17. Lemur says:

    The manpower problem has been mitigated since the Russian intervention by superior training (see the 5th Corp) and the elimination of certain fronts + ceasefires to permit concentration of forces. Imagine the number of forces the SAA will be able to marshal against a single foe once the entire ISIS occupied East has been liberated. Their are thousands of top tier soldiers (including Republican Guard) in Deir Ez Zor City alone.
    Lets say Assad decides to take East Ghouta after Deir Ez Zor (it strikes me it would be prudent take out this pocket which is a pox on the capital ASAP). He’ll be able to deploy the 5th Corp, Tiger Forces, the majority of Republican Guard units, and most of the 4th Mechanized Division in addition to militia and ordinary SAA divisions.

  18. Henshaw says:

    Masdar News reporting(@ 1.30am) that HTS and ISIS have launched coordinated attacks on either side of the Aleppo supply line between Sheikh Hilal and Al-Saan.

  19. Lemur says:

    Col, seems your caveat was prescient. HTS are double teaming the SAA supply line between Hama and Ithriya. An act of desperation no doubt, but one that will probably require extra SAA units to restore security for the time being.

  20. blowback says:

    “Unless HTS (AQ) chooses to attack to open a gap from Idlib Province (green colored on map)”
    It appears they are in the process of trying to do so.
    BREAKING: Islamist rebels, ISIS begin coordinated offensive on Aleppo supply line
    DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:30 A.M.) – On Wednesday evening, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was attacked by ISIS and Syrian rebel groups at the same time as both targeted the government supply route to Aleppo in a massive seemingly coordinated offensive.
    Briefly setting aside their differences in light of a common enemy, ISIS and rebel forces began attacking SAA checkpoints along the highway between Sheikh Hilal and Al-Saan, looking cutoff the government mainland from the northern city of Aleppo.
    Thus far, the Islamic State’s forces have deployed four car bombs and captured two checkpoints south of the aforementioned road, thereby bringing them within a few kilometers of actually closing the supply line.
    On the northern axis, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (Syrian Al-Qaeda branch) and allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions are shelling government strong points with missiles and field guns. However, their assault troops are yet to breach the SAA’s first defensive line.
    HTS and the FSA reportedly hope to break the siege of ISIS’ eastern Hama pocket after which a pragmatic alliance may take place between the previously hostile parties.
    Meanwhile, Netanyahu is spreading fake news in Moscow.
    Netanyahu claims Israel is defeating ISIL in Syria
    Netanyahu stressed that “with joint efforts we are defeating Islamic State,” which he said “is a very important thing.”
    You have to admire his chutzpah.

  21. Clueless Joe says:

    As the Colonel called it, there was an attack from ISIS on the old SAA supply road to Aleppo in the hope of breaking the encirclement, and many sources report that HTS and a few other Idlib groups made a (probably coordinated) attack from the other side. Doomed to a quick failure, considering the current firepower of SAA and allies, and some said it’s already been repelled.
    Concerning the encirclements, whether there was strong resistance or not, whether there were still many ISIS thugs defending or not, that doesn’t change the fact that SAA from 3 years ago would never have tried something like this, even if they had good reasons to suspect the whole area was empty of any armed group.

  22. mike says:

    Colonel –
    Not the famous Malik. It was his son Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik. He built it in the early 8th Century primarily as a palatial hunting lodge. Apparently there was a lot of game in that area. There were baths as water was brought in by a 3-plus mile canal.
    It was taken over by the Abbasids in the Golden Age of Harun al-Rashid. Not sure when, probably about the time Harun moved his capital from Baghdad to Raqqa.

  23. mike says:

    The attacks on the Aleppo supply line started four days ago with mortar barrages.

  24. Bandolero says:

    syria observer
    These pockets are largely covered by agreements with “rebels” made in Astana. But it’s not the whole pockets. Whereever there is Al Qaeda in the pockets it’s a legitimate target. And in some regions of these pockets there is Al Qaeda.

  25. Poul says:

    Al-Masdar reports that an estimated 600 IS-fighters are surrounded in the second pocket. Better to knock them out in the desert than in an urban setting later on along the Euphrates.

  26. turcopolier says:

    ‘who is basically a paid (often easily recognizable) foreign mercenary-” Not true. You cannot pay men enough to die willingly the way they do. soldiers (including mercenaries) take risks but they are not suicidal. The Japanese in WW2 were willing to die for their emperor because their code of Bushido required it but they would have preferred to live, pl

  27. Red Cloud says:
    HTS and ISIS are coordinating, again. I’m sure this won’t stop some from continuing to claim they don’t coordinate with one another unfortunately.

  28. turcopolier says:

    Red Cloud
    It is a very unusual thing for them to coordinate between them. pl

  29. mike says:

    Colonel –
    After checking Professor Hugh Kennedy’s book on the Abbasids, it seems I mis-spoke. It was Abbasid caliph al Mansur that captured that part of Syria.
    But Harun, Mansur’s grandson is the one that set up his capital in Raqqa and also frequented the Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharki hunting palace.

  30. Laguerre says:

    I don’t want to bother with the issues of Qasr al-Hayr. Both, Gharbi and Sharqi, were built in the reign of Hisham (724-743). There’s no evidence of their being used as a princely residence under the Abbasids.
    Never mind. What I wanted to tell you is that my Syrian visitor this afternoon, daughter of a major rebel, is quite clear that Asad has won. It’s no longer an issue in the eyes of the Syrians.

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