Phase Three of Operation Big Dawn – TTG


“BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:30 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has kicked off the third phase of Operation Big Dawn, tonight, a source told Al-Masdar News.

According to the Syrian military, the army is going to push from the Hamimah area of southeast Homs towards the border-city of Albukamal in the Deir Ezzor Governorate.

While the Syrian Army has not yet stormed the T-2 Pumping Station, they have begun firing a barrage of missiles and artillery shells towards the Islamic State’s positions.

In the coming hours, the Russian Air Force will begin pounding the T-2 Pumping Station, while the Syrian Army’s infantry storms the Islamic State’s last positions in the Hamimah area.”  (Published on 16/09/2017 by Al Masdar News)


I think the next goal of this offensive is to take the entire Euphrates valley from Deir Ezzor to Al Bukamal. The drive towards the T2 pumping station is only one step in this offensive. SAA and allied forces have linked with Iraqi forces along the border and are coordinating their dual pushes toward Al Bukamal and Al Qaim. IS reactions to these moves now seem to be limited to spoiling raids. A recent IS “counteroffensive” towards Hamimah ended in failure with half their vehicles destroyed by Russian and Syrian airstrikes. The IS is sucking bilge water.

At Deir Ezzor, the SAA has secured the area around the airport. The last pocket of IS jihadis are now surrounded with their backs to the Euphrates. Their only choices are to swim for it or wait for the loving embrace of Issam Zahreddine’s mighty arms. Two large transport planes have already landed with supplies for SAA forces. More are sure to come. 

Saker Island has been captured clearing the way for an SAA river crossing. A Russia24 video shows two pontoon sections being launched in the river and possibly being used to ferry R+6 troops and technicals across the river. The video also shows an old PTS-2 amphibious cargo carrier carrying troops. My guess is that this was part of the operation to secure Saker Island rather than the crossing of the Euphrates. 

However, I do see  the establishment of a functioning pontoon bridge and ferry service to move a large force to the east bank of the Euphrates taking place soon.  I envision a major R+6 advance south on both sides of the Euphrates towards Al Mayadin rather than an R+6 thrust due east to cut off and further YPG/SDF southerly advance. There are reports of the ISIS Hunters already sending a force across the river. Eyes on the prize, boys, eyes on the prize.


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25 Responses to Phase Three of Operation Big Dawn – TTG

  1. b says:

    Some SAA and Hezb Spec Force crossed the Euphrates last Wednesday/Thursday. They prepared the ground on the northern side.
    The pontoon bridge elements are currently used as ferries. That is fine for getting a battalion across but not for an operational force.
    The main crossings (at least two are planned) will be along bridges that were earlier partially destroyed. The destroyed spans will be patched up by some improvised strictures.
    The airport of Deir Ezzor has reopened. That will definitely allow for better air support as the helicopters will only be minutes away from the front.
    I haven’t seen any air-defense yet but that does not mean that it is not there. It would be a good insurance against crazy CentCom ideas.
    The U.S. tried to get a “deconfliction” deal to keep the SAA out of the eastern oil areas north of the Euphrates but was given a polite FU. It doesn’t have the force to anything significant in the area. The re-purposed formerly ISIS-aligned tribal forces only amount to some 1,000-2,000 men of dubious loyalty.
    Amusing – A “western diplomat” was quoted in the Financial Times as saying: “Assad is insistent on moving into the American zone and getting the al-Omar oilfield.”
    “into the American zone”?!? Is that ISIS held area an “American zone”?

  2. mike says:

    Good post TTG, welcome back. Hope the housewright work went well up in Halfmoon. Are you on the Canal there?

  3. Lemur says:

    Great update, thanks TGG.
    Capturing the Euphrates River valley and the main highways on either side heading south east to the crossing at Al Qa’im is probably a greater strategic priority than the oil fields.

  4. mike,
    Thanks. It’s good to be back. Got a lot done this time and the weather cooperated. Got the back porch refurbished and painted and the driveway patched and blacktopped. The house is less than a mile from the Mohawk and some old canal locks. SWMBO fished the area with her brother and father when she was young. Have a couple of hints for anybody. Don’t wear rubber gloves for long periods of time if you have cuts on your hands. The constant sweat bath promotes infection. Use a 12 inch drywall taping knife to mask screens while you paint the frames. Works like a charm, much better than masking tape or those plastic masking tools.
    I saw your comment about the LEER-2 ECM gear on the El Camino a while back. Good find. It does look like it could be a LEER-2 pod in that El Camino. That impresses me even more.

  5. Nightsticker says:

    Keep the good analysis coming.
    Closely related.
    It seems as if every day senior cadre in several bad
    guy organizations in Idlib Province develop what, in PRU days,
    was referred to as “a serious skin condition” [i.e. the skin
    breaks out into 9mm/.45 holes]. Historically this is often
    the fate of persons standing athwart the path of history [which
    now seems to be reconciliation/de-escalation].
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  6. Lemur says:

    addendum: one of the most lucrative oil fields – Omar – is on this route anyway.

  7. Lemur says:

    More trouble out of Idlib against government forces in Hama by HTS and other groups who want to ruin the Turkish-Russian de-escalation plan and buy themselves more time by dividing Syrian forces.
    Fighting is ongoing, with heavy SyAAF and RuAF airstrikes.

  8. LeaNder says:

    The Syrian – Iraqi cooperation is interesting. But I realize that the focus on Syria recently, as nitwit, left me with quite few lacunae concerning Iraq post Mission Accomplished.

  9. turcopolier says:

    What part of “the neocons made us do it” did you miss? pl

  10. LeaNder says:

    None, Pat.
    More worried about the consequences of the narratorial wisdom. …

  11. Barish says:

    Buy themselves more time – for what, one wonders?
    Report on the latest suicidal charge by the brave mujahideen can be read here:
    Via user Yusha Yuseef, who, even with his basic English, I find to be quite reliable in his reports:
    Al-Masdar somewhat more recently published this more triumphantly titled article:
    How well the action initiated by the “moderates” went can be gleamed from how Mr Fadel jr., another commentator, put it here: by announcing the “moderates'” capture of non-existent sites:

  12. b says:

    The McGurk paid (former) ISIS forces to their best to block the Syrian government fight against ISIS:
    Ru mil spokesman:
    “According to the reports that the Syrian commanders have been sending from the frontline, most serious counter-attacks and mass shelling on the Syrian troops come from the north,” he said. “It is the area where units of the Syrian Democratic Forces, as well as the US special operations units, are deployed, …

    Water discharges from the Euphrates dams controlled by the US-backed opposition hamper the advance of Syrian government troops near Deir ez-Zor, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.
    “Thus, the water situation on the Euphrates has deteriorated dramatically in the past 24 hours. As soon as the Syrian government troops began to cross the river, water level in the Euphrates rose within hours and the current velocity nearly doubled to two meters per second,” he said.

  13. aleksandar says:

    Welcome back TTG
    My take is that R+6 will cross Euphatre, more a political and economic move than a military one.Some elements are already on the east bank and probably russian SFs. Crossing rivers has always been a soviet god asset.
    First objective will be to stop SDF going south.
    Second is probably to clean and comb booth sides of the river.
    ISIS is dead,militarily I mean. The fact that after conquering Mount Bishri, R+6 can so easily and rapidly rush to DeZ shows that DeZ was poorly defended ans most important that R+6 know that. Maybe a consequence of that stupid and failed attack south of Raqqah.My guess is that ISIS has no more a military leadership and that lines of command are broken.
    Improvement in collecting intel with the help of Russians was a key, not often noted, but a real one.
    I will try one day to write something about improvement provided by russians on a tactical level, most of us, me too, focus about assets and equipments, but I truly think that Russians have change this war, the tactical game.
    R+6 is moving fast, if they keep up, abukamal will be liberated before Christmas.

  14. aleksandar,
    That all sounds reasonable to me. I fully agree with you about the importance of battlefield intel collection. The SAA has definitely made great strides in this aspect. I note you liked that Anna News video on tactical operations of the Tiger Forces before Deir Ezzor. I noticed how the leaders watched out for the health and welfare of the men. They made sure the men were alert, dispersed, rested and hydrated. It reminded me of the daily foot inspection of the men I performed as an infantry 2LT. Just one of those learned rituals. These little things at the tactical level mean everything as you said. I look forward to anything you write about this.

  15. Jack says:

    TTG, Sir
    On one of videos that was linked to on an earlier thread during the battles east from Sukhna there was a scene when a suicide bomber driving a VBIED came out of the blue at high speed. The SAA gunners had very little reaction time. My question is can drones detect movement in the open desert terrain? And when you compare the Iraq counter-insurgency campaign by our armed forces and the R+6 campaign in Syria, what strikes as you as the big differences in tactics and strategy?
    How do R+6 collect battlefield intel? The rapid fall of DeZ showed ISIS forces were not as well dug in and the R+6 had more and better weapons and as you note significant tactical advantages. What were they?

  16. Jack,
    Sure a drone can detect a pickup moving at 60 mph across the open desert if it happens to be in the right place at the right time. It still won’t give much warning time. The fight in Syria is not a counterinsurgency. The fighting is between conventional forces using conventional tactics. Except for the Russian and Syrian airpower and the jihadis’ VBIEDs, the weapons used by both sides have been fairly similar. The US COIN operations in Iraq were muddled and half-assed in my opinion.

  17. Will.2718 says:

    A person can learn a lot by reading SST. thnx Mike
    “Camels’ pregnancy lasts for a year, after giving birth, they need 5 years to become mature and ready for reproduction for the female. While the male needs 6 years to become fully mature. In the first year, the baby is called a Hawwar, in the second Makhloul, in the third for Lijey, in the fourth Jizaa, in the fifth Thani, and in the sixth Robaa.”
    hmm- the Emir of Qatar

  18. mike says:

    SDF are reportedly moving ENE along route #7 from the Deir ez-Zor industrial zone. They liberated several more villages and farms. As of six pm local time (noon EST) they were approximately 14 km from as-Suwar.

  19. mike says:

    Will –
    I catch your drift about adolescent camels.

  20. JJackson says:

    They can.
    What kind of current can a military pontoon bridge tolerate? I note the R+6 is saying their operations on the East bank are being hampered by IS attacks from SDF areas and the release of water from the Tabqa dam increasing the flow rate to 2m/s (about 4 knots).

  21. Jack says:

    TTG, Sir
    How did ISIS acquire, train and arm a conventional military force?
    I was always under the impression they got jihadis from all over the Muslim world to show up to fight for the caliphate and the got financing from the Saudis and Gulfies. They seemed to me like marauding hordes more than a well trained, organized and led conventional army. I’ve read elsewhere that several former Iraqi military leaders did join them. But I find that difficult to understand as the Baathists were polar opposite of the jihadis.

  22. turcopolier says:

    The old Iraqi Army was a national force not a Baathist force. Just as there were many non-Nazis in the Wehrmacht there were many officers who were members of the Baath Party because you had to be if you wanted to be promoted. And then we deprived these men of their livelihood by disbanding their army and confined many of them at Camp Bucca where they were offered employment by the jihadis when they got out. We have discussed this many times here. pl

  23. Jack says:

    Thank you Sir for the clarification. That explains the military capabilities of ISIS. Good leadership from former Iraqi military personnel.
    I must have missed those earlier discussions.

  24. mike says:

    JJackson –
    Amazing video! Thanks. Looks like that camel herder is on a paddle board.
    On your question re river current, I have no answer. It would depend on the length of the span and the anchoring. But as TTG says above, the bridge pontoon sections are being used as ferries for now.
    I have seen a video of Daesh drone dropping a small bomb on R+6 river crossing. Nothing else.
    As far as the Tabqa dam, I understood that the ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent just recently brought in Syrian and international engineers to repair the the control room that operates the spillways. That was in a Reuters report from a month ago. They may still be working on it?
    The Syrian regime and the Iraqis have more to worry about the new Turkish dams cutting off the flow or letting it just trickle through. That is going to affect hundreds of thousands of farmers in the Euphrates Valley.

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