Wed 12 Dec 2018

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Now that Idlib’s Deal has Been Sealed, What Battles Are Left in Syria?

A fighter from al-Fu'ah and Kafriya while exiting Idlib under Iran’s deal with “Tahrir al-Sham”- July 2018 (Reuters)

A fighter from al-Fu'ah and Kafriya while exiting Idlib under Iran’s deal with “Tahrir al-Sham”- July 2018 (Reuters)

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The Syrian cause has entered a new phase after the Idlib deal which provided for the establishment of a buffer zone between the areas controlled by the Syrian regime and those held by the opposition, which, accordingly, led to an end to the “massive” military operation that the Syrian regime promoted for in the past a few days.

Discussions are now addressing a “political battle” between the influencer regional states in Syria, on top of which are Russia and the United States of America, which preserve large Syrian territories under their dominance, unlike other international sides, such as Turkey and Iran.

The last months of 2018 might witness the end to the battles, let them be against the “Islamic State” (ISIS) or “al-Nusra Front,” now dissolved in “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS), the destiny of which has been probably agreed upon by Russia and Turkey, awaiting the implementation of the first term of their deal before the 15th of next October.

Enab Baladi, here, presents the areas that are yet witnessing military operations, as they have been restricted to the eastern parts of the country:

The Hajin Enclave

The city of Hajin is located at the left bank of the Euphrates river, which surrounds it from three directions. The city’s farms and houses spread over a floodplain and is considered the last stronghold of the “Islamic State,” based in the areas east of the Euphrates.

The city is 110 kilometers away to the east of Deir ez-Zor and about 35 kilometers from the city of Abu Kama, with an area of 250 square kilometers, with its desert part excluded.

Hajin is classified as a district’s center, including a number of towns and farms; al-Kishkiyah, Gharanij, Abu Hamam, al-Bahra, Hawameh, Abu Khater and Abu Hassan.

The “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) has launched a military operation as to control it under the Operation” al-Jazeera Storm,” which it started to terminate the “Islamic State” in the eastern rural Deir ez-Zor.

In a statement published on September 11, “SDF” declared that the last stage of the Operation “al-Jazeera Storm” aims to control the towns of Hahin, al-Susa, al-Shaafah along with their affiliate villages and areas.

The military operation starts from four fronts, and “SDF” has pointed out that several entities are participating in the operation including, “Deir ez-Zor Military Council,” with the support of teams and formations of the Border Guard Forces, and the massive presence on the part of  the Regiments of the Special Forces under the “People’s Protection Units” and “Women’s Protection Units,” while backed by the US-led coalition air forces, in coordination with the Iraqi army.

 

A map showing the areas where the “Islamic State” has fortified in eastern Syria – September 18, 2018 (LM)

A map showing the areas where the “Islamic State” has fortified in eastern Syria – September 18, 2018 (LM)

Two Enclaves at Rural Homs and Sweida

In addition to the military operations conducted against the “Islamic State” in the areas east of the Euphrates, the Assad’s forces and allied militias are also undertaking battles against “ISIS” in the enclave expanding from the eastern countryside of Homs to the desert of Deir ez-Zor.

They are also trying to control the area of Tulul al-Safa, in which the “Islamic State” is fortified in the Sweida’s eastern desert.

On September 11, the Assad’s forces started a military operation in the Syrian desert against the “Islamic State” affiliated groups which spread in the area.

Back then, the official Syrian media outlets reported that the operation was launched from the desert of al-Sukhnah, from the side of the Talet al-Saroukh, south of Shula, western rural Deir ez-Zor, towards the north-western part of al-Tanf at the Syrian-Iraqi borders.

They added that the operation aims to search the area for the “Islamic State’s” troops, who escaped from Sweida’s desert, pointing out that Assad’s forces have made a progress of about 30 kilometers to the town of al-Nayari.

To the day, military confrontations are taking place between the Assad’s forces and the “Islamic State” in the Sweida desert, the latter has fortified at the rigid area of Tulul al-Safa after it retreated from large areas in the desert.

The “Islamic State” is positioned at an enclave extending between the two governorates of Homs and Deir ez-zor, from the outskirts of al-Sukhnah to the borders of the two cities of Abu Kamal and the Mayadin in Deir ez-Zor.

In the past months, the “Islamic State” has launched several attacks against the positions of the Assad’s forces in the area and declared the death of dozens of troops, including Russian personnel. The last of these attacks took place last May.

 

The area of Tulul al-Safa in which the “Islamic State” is fortified in the Sweida desert – September 18, 2018 (LM)

The area of Tulul al-Safa in which the “Islamic State” is fortified in the Sweida desert – September 18, 2018 (LM)

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