Aleppo and Palmyra – 11 December 2016 – Keep calm and move on.


Aleppo – "The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continued their large-scale offensive in eastern Aleppo today after taking a brief hiatus in order to negotiate a possible exit for the jihadist rebels.

With no agreement put in place, the Syrian Arab Army launched a powerful assault inside the final districts under jihadist control; this would result in a series of intense firefights that would last for much of the day.

Led by the elite Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army managed to capture most the Al-Sahleen and Bab Al-Maqam Neighborhoods after overpowering the jihadist rebels of Fatah Halab and Jaysh Al-Fateh on Sunday afternoon.

According to a military source in Aleppo, the Tiger Forces and Desert Hawks Brigade are on the verge of seizing the remaining areas under jihadist rebel control, including the Bustan Al-Qasir and Sukkari districts.

In the coming days, the Syrian Armed Forces will likely attempt to negotiate a deal with the jihadist rebels in order to surrender the east Aleppo pocket in exchange for safe passage to the Anadan Plains or Idlib."  AMN


IMO the Aleppo operation is going extremely well in spite of fits and starts caused by Russian desires to see a jihadi surrender that will do no more damage to the city than can be avoided and the fewest numbers of civilian losses that can be managed.  pl


Palmyra – "Earlier this week, a massive offensive was launched by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in the Palmyra countryside, the Al-Masdar news portal reported. Terrorists targeted several sites, located around the city, trying to return the territories, which they lost earlier.

On Saturday, another big offensive was launched by the terrorist group near eastern gates of Palmyra. IS terrorists committed a successful suicide attack on Syrian troops and captured the strategic Grain Silos. After that, terrorists launched an assault on Jabal Tar. It was the first time in the last several months, when the IS has had a presence in this mountain chain.

As a result of these actions, the terrorist group is quickly approaching to Palmyra, as its members surround the city from all defensive flanks.

According to a military source in Tartous, the High Command of the Syrian Army is currently considering redeployment of its elite Tiger Forces to the Palmyra front in order to help to drive out the terrorist group from the area. However, there still has not been any official confirmation of this information."  SF


IMO there is a lot less to the IS attack on Aleppo than immediately meets the eye.  1.  The IS has maintained substantial forces in the eastern Homs Province since the government re-capture of the Palmyra area.  2.  Government garrisoning at Palmyra has been what we "Clausewitzian Grunts" call an Economy of Force operation.  IOW the inadequate manning of the R+6 on the ground country-wide dictated too small a force of too low quality at Palmyra.  This reminds of the inadequacy of the US Army's force in front of the Ardennes in late 1944.  3. The fantastical theories of "underground roads, US weather intelligence, etc., are IMO just bullshit.

The jihadi scum now hold Palmyra City.  OK .  IMO what R+6 should do is get on with the job at Aleppo, and then move enough force to Palmyra to process more jihadis into fertilizer.  My earlier idea to use the new 5th Assault Corps in this effort no longer seems good.  These are volunteers.  They should not be too bloodied too early.  pl  

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21 Responses to Aleppo and Palmyra – 11 December 2016 – Keep calm and move on.

  1. aleksandar says:

    Do they have maintain such forces in east Homs province, or do these forces came from Mossul ?
    It’s just a question, I don’t have the answer

  2. aleksandar says:

    And is it possible that SAA and Russians have decided to retreat and create a new “meat grinder” in Palmyra ?
    How can ISIS keep Palmyra with supply lines pounded everyday ?
    After all the antique city is already destroyed.

  3. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Southfront headline: “Russian Air Force Purges ISIS Forces Near Palmyra: 11 Battle Tanks, 31 Fighting Vehicles, Over 300 Fighters. BUT Terrorist Group Continues Attacks”

  4. robt willmann says:

    At the start of the discussion about Palmyra/Tadmur above, it says: “IMO there is a lot less to the IS attack on Aleppo than immediately….” What was probably meant was a lot less to the IS attack on Palmyra….

  5. turcopolier says:

    Surely. pl

  6. Thirdeye says:

    Looks like the same pattern as before in Aleppo, with heavy, slow-moving battles for strongholds like Bustan Al-Qasir and Sheikh Saeed while the eastern line crumbles. I just wonder how much Jihadist strength can be left on the west bank (Sukkari, Al Ansari) with all that they’ve thrown into defending the east bank.
    Late-breaking news is that Sheikh Saeed now belongs to the SAA.

  7. Chris Chuba says:

    In the most recent story in Al Masdar News, yeah, it looks as simple as that. A small garrison was taken by surprise. This story says that 4-5,000 ISIS fighters swarmed a garrison of 1,000. Given the disparity, it’s amazing that it took them almost 3 days and I hope that it’s true that they were able to evacuate the residents of Palmyra / Tadmur. They probably did because they were discussing evacuation over a day ago and as I recall the population was in the hundreds.
    Well if 5,000 ISIS fighters are occupying territory that is free of civilians, it seems like a good opportunity to use some pretty intense weapons. I know that the Russians have Thermobaric artillery, I wonder if they have Thermobaric missiles or air launched bombs. I have noticed that U.S. cable news has already started the taunting along the lines of ‘while you were destroying Aleppo, you let ISIS run amok because you don’t really care about ISIS’.

  8. Serge says:

    The majority of the ruins were left intact by ISIS, for what reasons I’ll leave up to speculation, but IMO they did it just to show that they could; contrary to all expectations at the time(they only destroyed the explicitly “idolatrous” ruins). I am of the opinion, and others can feel free to dispute with me on this, that the forces used to take palmyra were all very local militants, with the great majority of these being troops already assigned to the frontline since march 2016:the same ones that raided shaer and environs in this past spring, the same ones that continued to harass the outposts up to the silos on a near weekly basis etc. I would highly doubt that they called up any iraqi reserves for this, going by the observations of the ISIS power command structure(of keeping frontlines as decentralized as possible, and the fact that iraq is now very much geographically cut of from syria IS)such a move is very unlikely. At most it would have been a small percentage of the total reinforcements from Homs/Deir Ezzor. This is apart from the specialized stormer troops,numbering in the dozens at most, that IS seems to move around at free will from front to front, depending on need and necessity.I posted about this before, but the claims I’ve seen bandied about in the past 12 hours of a few thousand ISIS militants being involved in this palmyra are pure fantasy. As for how they can keep these lines open, I believe that the power of total air superiority in an open-ended geographical arena(unlike a closed one,say,like manbij or tikrit or mosul) without competent ground spotters, especially in the face of variable weather and an extremely competent adversary with intimate knowledge of the local terrain, is vastly overblown. The amount of footage coming out of palmyra and environs from the past days showing ISIS utilizing heavy armor(tanks,lots and lots of tanks) just proves this point. How would those tanks be able to get there otherwise? It’s all desert, a big desert,but still a desert. Either the means are extremely short or the lack of competent ground spotters makes that much more of a difference. IMO the russians and the US simply do not have the capability to blanket this whole area that ISIS controls with the variability of terrain and the local competence of the militants, ISIS has had since 2014 to learn to adapt to air superiority. their ability to covertly bring in all the heavy equipment necessary for the blitz of ramadi in march 2015,right under US noses with their total air superiority, comes to mind.

  9. Peter in Toronto says:

    The embarrassing route at the hands of a few hundred pick-up truck-equipped irregulars in Palmyra is just more evidence that outside of a select few units, the SAA is nothing more than a collection of roving gangs, as are their adversaries.
    When I look back to other wars in history, the fighting in Syria is closer to some sort of high-intensity gang warfare type activity as opposed to a modern, mechanized war. I’m constantly disappointed.
    The alleged Russian capabilities have also shown their limits, with absolutely nothing comparable to the US’ long range surveillance and strike platforms based on UAV technology. The failure to detect this force moving on Palmyra, after the theatrical victory celebrations, is going to be a source of embarrassment to the Russians for a long time.

  10. Ghostship says:

    Shame the Syrians and Russians allowed ISIS to re-equip on the spot.
    “ISIS seizes Syrian tanks, Russian vehicles left behind in Palmyra”

  11. turcopolier says:

    “heavy, slow-moving battles for strongholds like Bustan Al-Qasir and Sheikh Saeed while the eastern line crumbles. I just wonder how much Jihadist strength can be left on the west bank (Sukkari, Al Ansari) with all that they’ve thrown into defending the east bank.” I don’t understand any of that. What is the “eastern line?” What is the “east bank?” BTWthe fight for east Aleppo does not seem to be “slow-moving” to me at all. pl

  12. turcopolier says:

    Peter in Toronto
    I don’t buy any of that. R+6 performance seem quite adequate to me. As for failure of Russian surveillance to detect movement toward Palmyra, US surveillance did not detect it either. IMO that is because most o those who attacked in eastern Home were already there. pl

  13. para says:

    The pictures on the ground dont support the Russian claims re air strikes against IS armour and casualties. Also no confirmation that IS used a lot of armour in their attack, it seems indeed like Peter in Toronto said, a large number of technicals routed the SAA. The photos released so far (by IS) show a large number of armour left behind scattered all over the place, also MRAPs and lots of trucks. The pictures of the retreating forces show people on foot following a handful of trucks presumably carrying wounded troops and supplies. Overall this was far from an orderly retreat and IS got their hands on some fairly modern equipment in Palmyra. Reports also point to the T4 airbase being under mortar fire now, but not confirmed.
    In unrelated news (?) Turkey just doubled their tank force near Al-Bab. Interesting times.

  14. turcopolier says:

    para & peter in Toronto
    So what? There will be a counterattack at Palmyra that will push the “technicals” back into the desert. The calculation of how small the economy of force group at Palmyra could be was obviously incorrect, but, so what… And BTW the drivel being spouted by people like Mike Lupicka that Russian equipment is no good because the war is not yet over is just silly. when you fight accidents occur and casualties of equipment are commonplace. That’s all folks. pl

  15. Peter in Toronto says:

    IS released some pictures of their loot today, T-55 and T-62 tanks in fighting configuration, left abandoned along with support vehicles, ammo stockpiles etc. All of these signs indicate a hasty route by the unreliable Syrian elements. Reports are that captured are being swiftly executed. I don’t understand the mentality of these folks – if the result of capture is certain, gruesome death, why not utilize the weapons at your disposal and at least attempt a fight?
    Regarding the Turkish effort in Al Bab, interesting to see the Leopard 2A4 in action in desert camouflage; this is a new weapon to this theatre. Would be interested to see if it can shrug off ATGMs.

  16. para says:

    At least one Leo 2 got hit in an ATGM attack yesterday at Al-Bab. No footage of effect yet, but could have been a glancing hit or a top attack, hard to say so far.
    The force at Palmyra is apparently robust enough to proceed to T4. Latest reports are T4 is under attack from three directions, one air defense site seized and everything in flyable condition was removed over the last 24 hours. I will leave it to the more experienced to assess what this implies for the near future. Also interesting that there are no reports so far of Russian efforts to destroy this loot via a/s, if they are indeed active in the area.

  17. para says:

    We’ll see. All I am saying is this move has certainly surprised me. And ppls reaction to it so far is predictable. “They attack the city, but will be repelled, so what. – They are in the city but will be driven out. – Ok they are heading for T4 but no way they can take it” etc etc. This is a general observation, not aimed at anyone in particular. Combined with the Turks doubling down, as I said “interesting times”.

  18. Philippe says:

    Case study : IS storming an outpost, North Palmyra, December 10
    alternative version
    Caveat : youtube videos, so could disappear without notice
    Professional insights welcome, indeed

  19. Thirdeye says:

    I’ll explain, although the situation is looking different now. A river separates the western Jihadi districts (Al-Sukkari, Al-Ansari) from the (now mostly former) eastern Jihadi areas and the lines west of those districts have looked pretty static. Al-Sukkari is now a former Jihadi district as it was recently taken from the east-southeast and apparently without much resistance. The line north of Bustan Al-Qasir was the location of a lot of action but not much movement over the past week. It is, or maybe was by now, the last Jihadi stand east of the river. Sheikh Saeed to the south was also being stoutly defended until it fell a day ago. The rapid advances of the SAA have tended to be from the east or southeast.

  20. Tel says:

    Does anyone see a strategic similarity between Palmyra city and Stalingrad?
    * Attackers take city after expensive assault.
    * Attackers at end of long and vulnerable supply lines.
    * Defenders retreat, regroup and concentrate on blocking supply.

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