Syria military notes – 15 July 2017


1.  The Desert Hawks Brigade has been withdrawn to its base area in Lattakia Province.  IMO this is for R&R, re-fit with new Russian equipment and to receive replacements who have been in training under Russian supervision.  Their future commitments are unknown as yet.

2.  SAA 4th Division has been withdrawn to its base in the Damascus area.  IMO this is for the same set of reasons as in the case of the Desert Hawks.  If memory serves this division was original made up of units from  the "Defense Companies" (saraya difaa')  They are almost all Alawis and well trained.  They are reported to be going to the SW after re-fit, but we will see.

3.  The armor heavy mobile force spearheaded by the Tiger Forces are on the way SE from the Rasafa area (map).  If I were Suheil Basha (humorous historical reference) I would take the line of advance:  al qawm oasis – al tayyibiya – al-khawalliya to emerge onto the M 20 Highway well east of al sukhna.  This would IMO collapse the IS front at Sukhna as the rats try to escape to the east.  pl

This entry was posted in Borg Wars, Current Affairs, Middle East, Russia, Syria, The Military Art. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Syria military notes – 15 July 2017

  1. plantman says:

    Doesn’t the new treaty between the US and Russia mean that the existing occupation of Syrian territory by the Kurds, the Turks and the US will continue indefinitely?
    Doesn’t the treaty basically impose a partition on the country?

  2. SM says:

    in World War I trench warfare in 1916, Canadian brigades took shifts of two weeks or so between trenches and recovery. Seems similar.

  3. mike says:

    The White House is reportedly asking Congress for funds to build new bases is Iraq and Syria. Plus LtGen Townsend has stated to the press that he believes Coalition forces will have to stay in Iraq and Syria for an indeterminate time after the fall of Mosul and Raqqa.
    Meanwhile Iran’s Supreme National Security Council stated to Putin that: “No deal would be allowed preparing situation for disintegration of Syria”.
    Idlib jihadis tried to push an attack into Western Aleppo province yesterday. But were beaten back i believe.

  4. paul says:

    “Syria military notes – 17 July 2017”
    apparently time travel is possible?

  5. Peter AU says:

    What is the wording of this treaty? I believe Russia have some type of deconfliction arrangement in place concerning the destruction of ISIS, but have not heard of any treaty.

  6. turcopolier says:

    Peter AU
    In the US treaties must be confirmed by the senate before they have any forces? What treaty are you all talking about. All I know about is the agreement for a ceasefire in SW Syria, you know the place some of you cannot find on a map. pl

  7. Peter AU says:

    Plantman’s imaginary treaty between Russia and US in regards the eastern/northern Kurd/US/Turk held areas.

  8. Peter AU says:

    Desert Hawks seemed to pulled out of the east Hama/Homs fight very quickly with very little ground taken? I believe that before being sent to that area they had spent several months retraining ect?

  9. plantman,
    That was not a treaty between Russia and the US. It was Putin informing Trump that a ceasefire agreement was about to come into effect in SW Syria which was agreed upon by Damascus, Amman, Moscow and Teheran. The US is just going along with what is happening in that area of Syria.

  10. Al Masdar announced another four villages in Idlib province have agreed to reconcile with the Damascus government in the last 24 hours. The strategy here seems to be to peel away all but the most hardcore jihadis before the R+6 must do what they must to take back the rest of Idlib province. This is a continuation of the longstanding policy of seeking reconciliation when at all possible.

  11. J says:

    On another topic, Chinese spies in the U.S.. Bill Gertz article:
    China’s Intelligence Networks in United States Include 25,000 Spies
    Dissident (Guo Wengui} reveals up to 18,000 Americans recruited as Chinese agents

  12. b says:

    Allegedly the Desert Hawks were pulled back because they failed in their last mission. It is a private militia of relatively old men. Its job near the Jordan border required offensive operations but the unit is more suited to work in a defense role.

  13. turcopolier says:

    It is true that men over 40 decline rapidly in combat utility if in front line roles. Older men break down under the physical stress if the experience is protracted. It will be interesting to see what role is assigned to them after this period out of the line. pl

  14. aleksandar says:

    Seems that Desert Hawks are more a gang than a unit. There were complaints about Desert Hawks behaviour, misconduct,houses looted and so.
    And Imo, posing with severes heads of djihadists is not something SAA JSC want to be seen on internet.

  15. Old Microbiologist says:

    Perhaps this is true but we have a recent example of old timers performing well under duress. Looking at the original forces cobbled together in the Donbass after the US/Ukraine declared the protestors to be terrorists, it was these volunteer forces who had fantastic success due to their long experiences in Afghanistan because the forces were comprised only of men over the age of 40. All the youngsters were evacuated to Rostov for training before being sent back home roughly a year later. Those old farts kicked the living crap out of the Ukrainian Army because they knew how to operate as insurgents and used the fire and move tactics for squad sized units. Snipers were extremely effective and the Kiev forces continued to amass themselves in rear areas. Captured Grad rockets devastated the units all colocated in close proximity. The subsequent captured equipment was then refurbished/repaired and turned back against the Ukrainian forces as the inventory continued to build. Of course, it was Russian directed artillery fire which caused a lot of devastation all fired from within Russian borders and enabled the resistance to succeed.

  16. turcopolier says:

    It is entirely a matter of conditions of service in combat. If engagement is sporadic, shelter from the elements is available, then older men are more useful than if they are serving in really difficult environmental conditions without enough sleep, exposure to a harsh climate, incessant exposure to enemy fire, etc. then the over 40s will break down quicker. There are a lot of US Army studies that support that. pl

  17. BraveNewWorld says:

    Maybe go back to their original purpose of protecting the vast areas of the oil fields after others have cleared them. Or do you think that would be a waste of talent?

  18. turcopolier says:

    More economic determinist BS. pl

  19. BraveNewWorld says:

    To point 3 of the article. I am sorry the attached map is to small for me to be able to read the names of the towns you referenced other than Rasafa. Google and Wikimapia have either never heard of them or more likely are having issues with the Arabic to English translation. So are you suggesting that they join the M20 just north of Ash Shola and head north to Dier Ezzor? That certainly has the advantage of speed as there shouldn’t be much beyond IEDs etc on the way.
    Any escape if they even intend one from Sukhna would have to be cross country or on oil and gas roads as any road leading out of there already leads to the SAA in one flavour or another. I suspect there really isn’t much of a force left there and what is left is more of the 70 virgins variety.

  20. Gabriel says:

    I’m no longer following the SAA oob as closely as I was last year, so the below may well be outdated, but for what it might be worth, a few very brief notes on the SAA 4th Division:
    * The 4th Mechanized is probably best understood not as a single “praetorian” unit, but rather a favored formation within the SAA that fields Brigade- sized units in different areas of the country, which may or may not be concentrated for large-scale offensives. The 154th Brigade, for example, is reportedly composed largely from Sunnis from the Aleppo area, and was at the forefront of the 2015-2016 offensives south and later north of Aleppo city (, which also highlights its relative success in working in combined arms with Hezbollah-led infantry). The brigade that’s reported to be redeploying to Daraa area There’s a 43rd or 42nd Brigade that usually operates in the Damascus area ( There was or is “46nd” Brigade whose home barracks were reported ( to be in Ras al Basit ( in northwest Lattakia. Finally, there’s a shadowy “555th” Special Forces regiment that’s tended to be reported along the Ithriyah-Tabqa axis. To repeat, this information is probably heavily outdated by now (and keeping track of subordinate brigade numbers a nightmare in itself, not least because some seem to exist only as shell HQ units), but in general it might be useful to grasp that to know that reports of “the 4th Armored” being at X or Y location can be as misleading as saying so about “the Republican Guard”–the key information is usually which and how many brigades.
    * Leith Fadel of almasdar (pro-SAA, but in the matters I’ve followed generally reliable) has repeatedly insisted that the bulk of the unit’s manpower is overwhelmingly Sunni, and I’m inclined to agree simply because I’m not sure there are enough Alawis to staff and sustain the number of units the 4th Mechanized has deployed. Stories about its being a sectarian militia tend also to come from the early years of the war (when possibly this the case), but since 2015 even sources not especially friendly to the SAA have acknowledged that Sunnis make up most of the army units, the cleavages in Syria mapping more on class or urban/rural than on “straight” sectarian identity (see e.g. the CTC’s
    * During the 2015-16 Aleppo offensive at least the 4th Mechanized units had first call on newly arrived Russian equipment. In late 2015 its units were the first to be reequipped with the T-90 tank ( as well as with T-72s equipped with modern reactive armor. These units were also *much* better than SAA armor had been in the past at using such equipment in combined-arms teams with infantry and artillery, something that’s been variously attributed to Iranian and/or Russian training efforts and C3 support.
    I hope the above not too long-winded or grossly incorrect, and would obviously welcome any information other SST readers might have.

  21. BraveNewWorld says:

    Well, I’m done here. While I may not agree with what you have to say all the time I do respect the effort you put into it. I think you are doing a service making points that a part of the American population would not even consider possible if not coming from some one with your background.
    Good luck with the site

  22. turcopolier says:

    Adios. I suppose you are yet another America hating Canadian determined to attribute the worst of motives on every occasion. pl

  23. opereta says:

    Donestsk airport to Russian border is 200 km !! No artillery reaches that far !!

  24. Gabriel says:

    As it happens, last week BBC-4 put out a very short report from a journalist who’d been with the Tiger Forces in east Hama.
    Not hugely informative (at least for people who can’t make out artillery equipment and SAA rank insignia), but significant possibly in that this kind of thing shown at all in UK media, given that Tiger Forces’ve otherwise been portrayed as somewhere between the Waffen-SS and the NKVD in terms of sheer evil. (Only reason I knew about this documentary is because Charles Lister complained about it–I follow him online precisely as a kind of contrary indicator to what might be useful to read or watch on the subject.)

Comments are closed.