Idlib Dawn… a Tough Nut – TTG

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The R+6 is finding the jihadi infestation of Idlib to be a tough nut to crack. The SAA is adjusting tactics and operational plans accordingly. I bet some in the SAA now wish they struck right after they liberated Aleppo.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:45 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Armored Division has departed the northeastern countryside of Latakia after a 45-day-long battle at the key town of Kabani. According to a military source in Damascus, the 4th Armored Division, including most of their elite 42nd Brigade (Ghiath Forces), have been redeployed to the Kafr Naboudeh front in northwestern Hama.

The 4th Armored Division will reportedly take part in the Syrian Arab Army’s new push to secure Kafr Naboudeh’s eastern flank, which is currently exposed because the jihadist rebels control the imperative hilltop of Tal Sakher.

When asked if the battle for Kabani is over, the source said the high command has shifted their attention to northwestern Hama, where the Syrian Army is attempting to retake several sites in order to reopen the main road between Sqaylabiyeh and Mhardeh.

The majority of the Syrian military’s casualties during the battle of Kabani were from the National Defense Forces (NDF) and reconciled rebels.

For now, it appears that the battle for Kabani is over, which is a decisive victory for the jihadist rebels. If the jihadists lost Kabani, the Syrian Army would have a downhill battle to the key city of Jisr Al-Shughour in western Idlib.  (AMN)

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Since the Idlib Dawn offensive started in early May, the SAA has had to fight hard to gain and keep every inch of soil. But they fight wisely. They are not risking massive casualties to take or defend an objective. Proof of this lies in the ability of the 4th Armored Division to redeploy to Kafr Naboudeh after several weeks of failed attacks on Kabani. The SAA knows time is on their side. They are proceeding in a determined and methodical manner.

The jihadis, OTOH, are fighting desperately. They are still well manned, well armed and far from broken, but they are taking serious casualties resisting the SAA advances and especially in their repeated counterattacks. An effective SAA tactic is to retreat in the face of determined jihadi counterattacks and then unleash devastating artillery fire on the now concentrated jihadis. 

The jihadis are not alone. Turkey is keeping them supplied with the latest anti-tank missiles and AA missiles. They are also facilitating the movement of jihadi reinforcements. I am curious to learn Moscow’s calculus in balancing their interests in Damascus with their interests in Ankara. “But is a puzzlement.” 

TTG

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-armys-4th-division-heads-to-northwestern-hama-after-kabani-battle-ends/

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12 Responses to Idlib Dawn… a Tough Nut – TTG

  1. Avatar Eugene Owens says:

    It is a tough nut. Since this offensive started 0n 30 April the SAA has hardly made a dent in Idlib. And although they did well early taking Kafr Nabudah and Qalaat al-Madiq plus surrounding villages, those are all in Hama Governate not Idlib. Seems they have perhaps liberated just a small area in Idlib near Qusaybiyah and Wadi al-Jurah. Perhaps 4th Armored can help expand that toehold.
    In addition to the ATGMs and AA provided by Turkey to the rebels, the Tiger forces say the Turks have also given them Panthera APCs. Plus there is a report on Fars News that Turkey has also provided direct artillery fire in support of both HTS and TIP jihadis.
    https://en.muraselon.com/2019/05/syrian-army-destroys-turkey-supplied-panthera-f9-armored-vehicles-in-northern-hama-photos/
    http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980303000181
    As for Moscow’s calculus? My simple mind says they want to pull Turkey out of NATO. Yet they have supported Syria for almost 75 years and had their Tartus port for almost 50. So they walk a fine line. Plus they recognize that HTS and other jihadis are one of the biggest threats to their internal security due to the large (10 million) Muslim population in Russia. They’ll do their best to support Assad and destroy HTS, yet at the same time they will continue to schmooze and coddle Erdogan.

  2. Avatar Walrus says:

    A puzzlement? Perhaps Russia likes the idea of Idlib as a killing jar. The more jihadis sent to Idlib, the less elsewhere?

  3. Very grateful for the update, TTG. I skate around the sites a bit but all sides are fully clued up on the PR now so one can never tell how much is bogus and how much genuine. So I wait for your updates to keep me on the straight and narrow.
    “Turkey is keeping them supplied with the latest anti-tank missiles and AA missiles.”
    Saw some video that, if genuine, showed the artillery the Jihadis were using. You know how you can usually tell if machinery is refurbished or straight from the factory? This didn’t look like stuff that came out of some obsolete East European armoury or captured second hand stuff. Looked formidable and brand new.
    Do the Turks make equipment like this? If not, where’s it coming from?

  4. Avatar Turcopolier says:

    TTG
    Thanks for covering the ongoing war as we discussed. “I bet some in the SAA now wish they struck right after they liberated Aleppo.” Yes. We had it right.

  5. EO, Turkey has a robust defense industry producing a full range of military equipment including howitzers and multiple rocket launcher systems. They export some two to three billion dollars worth of military equipment every year.

  6. Thanks, TTG. The BBC take –
    The President still sees Syria simply through the prism of defeating IS, according to Randa Slim, who leads unofficial dialogues on the Syria conflict for the Middle East Institute. But, she says, his officials have convinced him the fight against the group is not over yet.
    “I’m hearing that his call for a withdrawal from Syria has been shelved,” she says. That is because he has been told IS will be able to return if he pulls the troops out too soon, as Islamist militants did in Iraq after Mr Obama ended America’s military deployment there.

    From an inset to –
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-45401474
    The hell! The biggest and best intelligence apparatus in the world and the President of the United States doesn’t know that if the West pulled out and got its NATO ally Turkey out of it as well the war in Syria would be yesterday’s news?
    But I have to go. One of our politicians – the one with the wispy hair – has just had a row with his girlfriend so we’ve got a lot on our plate at the moment.

  7. Avatar Barbara Ann says:

    Thanks for the update TTG.
    Do you get a sense of the impact the attrition is having on the jihadis? I have read conflicting reports ranging from HTS & friends being overwhelmed with new volunteer recruits to them being so desperately short of manpower they are recruiting in mosques.
    The Russo-Turkish tango is fascinating, but whatever is going on behind the scenes evidently neither side is willing to back down yet. I find the relatively low profile of the operation in pro-Erdogan press particularly interesting. Coverage of ‘rebel’ casualties in Idlib dropped to almost zero for the first few weeks of Idlib Dawn. The narrative of Sultan Erdogan, protector of the Ummah seemed to have been suspended to allow Russia to get on with fumigating the roaches. Yet they are still being supplied, a puzzle indeed.
    Perhaps when the RuAF starts to run short of targets the dam will break and the SAA will on the move again. What will the Turks do once their OP’s are cut off?

  8. Avatar turcopolier says:

    Barbara Ann
    They always recruited in mosques. That is how the Syrian Civil War started in SW Syri.

  9. Barbara Ann, The jihadis are still capable of putting up a strong defense and launching sometimes effective counterattacks, so they clearly are not yet hurting for manpower. However, Idlib Dawn now gives the R+6 the opportunity to kill jihadis and destroy their equipment at a good clip. That’s preferable to the Sitzkrieg situation before the start of the offensive. Until now the jihadis were fairly free to grow in manpower, stockpile supplies and build defenses. I definitely believe the demise of the Idlib jihadis is just a matter of time. Perhaps it will be a long time, but it will happen.

  10. Avatar Johnb says:

    Quote.”they are taking serious casualties resisting the SAA advances and especially in their repeated counterattacks. An effective SAA tactic is to retreat in the face of determined jihadi counterattacks and then unleash devastating artillery fire on the now concentrated jihadis. ”
    I think the above quote is key to the overall strategy in play. Moving the jihadis to Idlib via negotiation saved many civilian lives and now they are concentrated to an area the task now is how do you deal with them without causing significant civilian casualties and gift the propaganda advantage by so doing. The quote suggests how it might be done. Turkey doesn’t want the problem of them crossing its border en mass so needs a strategy to keep them in Idlib province.

  11. Avatar joanna says:

    Sitzkrieg: interesting coinage.

  12. Avatar joanna says:

    Moving the jihadis to Idlib via negotiation saved many civilian lives … without causing significant civilian casualties and gift the propaganda advantage by so doing.
    yes, again civilians around. But, let’s say R+6 had first ‘pacified Idlib’ how w/could they have dealt with the jihadis after? …

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