Syrian Front: Syrian ‘Desert Falcons’ Ready to Take Back Palmyra From Da’esh

Report of the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides in the Syrian Arab Republic (March 20, 2016)

General information on the application of measures for the reconciliation of opposing sides

Negotiations on joining the ceasefire regime have been held with commanders of two armed formations active in the Damascus province.

The number of ceasefire application forms signed with leaders of armed groupings has remained 43.

Working sessions with representatives of administrations of 4 towns in the provinces of Damascus and al-Quneitra have been held.

The total number of settlements, the leaders of which have signed reconciliation agreements, has remained the same – 51.

Results of ceasefire monitoring

In the course of last 24 hours, 5 ceasefire violations have been registered (Aleppo – 2, Latakia – 2, Hama –1).

Militants of Sultan Murad Brigade opened fire for two times from Ashrafia and Haidaria areas against Kurdish militia detachments in Sheikh Maqsood (Aleppo).

In the Latakia province, fire with mortars and large-caliber machine guns was carried out from Shamruran, which had been controlled by the Free Syrian Army, against Akch Bair and Beit Smairah.

Djurin (Hama province) has suffered artillery shelling.

Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian Air Forces did not make strikes on armed formations, which follow ceasefire regime and informed the Russian or American Centres for reconciliation about their location.

Humanitarian aid to the population of Syria

The Russian Centre for reconciliation has delivered 5.5 tons of humanitarian aid to Kafr Nan and Tesnin (Homs province). The citizens have received food products and bottled water.

Consultations with representatives of the National Reconciliation Ministry of Syria are continued. The parties discussed issues concerning interaction in providing humanitarian aid to citizens of towns, which had joined the truce process.

Recently, the government humanitarian convoys have delivered more than 60 tons of cargos to al-Tell, Mnin (Damascus province), Etbaa (Daraa province), Tleisia, Zabadi, Marzaf, and Zogba (Hama province). Civilians have received food products, medicaments, tents, electric generators, blankets, personal hygiene products, and cylinders with liquid gas for cooking meal.

Additional information

Leadership of the Russian Centre for reconciliation (Hmeymim airbase) and the American Coordination Centre (Amman) held teleconferences. The parties expressed their concern about ceasefire violations in the provinces of Latakia and Hama.

Terrorist take efforts to prevent establishing of the ceasefire regime in Syria. According to the information received by the Russian Centre from citizens of the Hama province, Jabhat al-Nusra formations are being concentrated in northwestern part of the province. The concentration of the formations is the evidence of possible offensive carried out by militants.

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation


Syrian ‘Desert Falcons’ Ready to Take Back Palmyra From Daesh

Fighters of the Desert Falcons self-defense unit during re-stationing of troops near the Syrian city of Palmyra.
© Sputnik/ Mikhail Voskresenskiy
Fighters of the Desert Falcons self-defense unit during re-stationing of troops near the Syrian city of Palmyra

Fighters of the ‘Desert Falcons’ militia will strike with full force in order to free the ancient city of Palmyra.

Sputnik –Middle East

Under the command of the Syrian army, the troops are getting ready to storm the city in the near future, chief of ‘Desert Falcons’ Mohammad Jaber told RIA Novosti.

The Syrian army and militia on Saturday completed the first phase of the operation to storm Palmyra, occupying the commanding heights and destroying command posts, ammunition depots and firing positions of the terrorist group.

“We have received a request and an order to move into Palmyra in order to free it from Daesh terrorists. In the coming battle we will strike in the main direction of Palmyra. Soon we will begin the assault on the city. We will soon report to all of our friends that Palmyra is under our control,” Jaber said.

According to the division leader of the ‘Desert Falcons’, “Russia is assisting the Syrian army in the framework of military-technical cooperation, part of the transferred means of command of the armed forces is being given to us therefore we consider that a victory.”

The attack on Palmyra is coming from west, east and south. The advanced army troops and militia in some parts of the front are located two kilometers away from the city. From the west the elite units of the Syrian army, called ‘Tigers’, commanded by Suhail Al-Hassan, are advancing. From the east, along the Haya ridge the militia from the Arab tribes is headed and from the south the ‘Desert Falcons’ are approaching.

The southern direction is the most difficult one because of a number of heights on both sides of the road which are still under the control of Daesh and the territory between two mountain ranges is completely deserted.

One of the main tasks on the western and eastern flank is to cut off the terrorists’ supply in Palmyra and hold the high ground.

Daesh militants are carrying out mortar and rocket attacks on the strategic heights daily. Small groups of terrorists keep attempting to counterattack observation posts and firing positions of the army and militia.

The command center of the army receives daily reports from the front lines suggesting that dozens of terrorists are being killed.

Taking the town of Palmyra, whose ancient ruins are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, is not only of historical importance, but also of strategic importance.

To the north and northwest of Palmyra there is a desert. As soon as the army takes the city, Daesh will lose control of over 20% of the occupied Syrian territory.

Right after the commanders of the Syrian troops will start a large-scale attack on the Daesh capital, Raqqa, and the operation for de-blocking of the city of Deir ez-Zor, which is surrounded by the terrorists, will begin.

From Palmyra to Raqqa: Syria, Russia on Course to Hit Daesh Where It Hurts

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), assisted by Russian military aircraft and its local allies, has launched a massive operation to free the iconic ancient city of Palmyra, seized by Daesh in May 2015, in what would most likely pave the way for a campaign to push the terrorists out of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the caliphate.

Sputnik –Middle East

Damascus-led forces need this victory because it holds both symbolic and strategic value.

​For Daesh, capturing and partially destroying one of the most recognizable ruins in the world was part of a PR campaign, which was aimed at diverting attention from their battlefield losses. The group was struggling to prove that it was as resilient and powerful as a year earlier, when it shocked the international community with its blitz offensive on northern Iraq in June 2014.

But Palmyra, once a key cultural center of the ancient world, is also a strategically important city today. “It is located at the crossroads in the Syrian dessert and it serves as a junction point for Daesh,” Alexander Khramchikhin, the deputy director of the Moscow-based Institute for Political and Military Analysis, told Svobodnaya Pressa.

It follows then that taking the city, which offers access to major Syrian urban centers, will allow the Syrian Arab Army and its allies to mount a campaign to liberate Raqqa, the de facto capital of the caliphate.

“Returning Palmyra is extremely important,” TV5 Monde quoted a Syrian general as saying. “This city is a gate to the East; it is a crossroads through which we will be able to advance on Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.”

On Friday, a source in the Syrian command told RIA Novosti that the first stage of freeing Palmyra, which involved shelling and airstrikes of militant outposts, was over. The source did not specify whether the second stage was already underway, but confirmed that it will see the SAA engage in face-to-face combat on the outskirts of the city.

​Khramchikhin warned that capturing Palmyra will not be easy, but retaking Raqqa will take the challenge to a whole new level. The Syrian Democratic Forces, manned mostly by the Kurdish fighters, are reported to have reached the gates of the Daesh headquarters.

“Prior to the war Raqqa’s population exceeded 300,000. The Kurds don’t have heavy armaments, including tanks and artillery. They lack the experience needed to storm a major city, which Daesh has turned into a fortress,” analyst Vladimir Evseev told Svobodnaya Pressa.

“I don’t think that they will be able to retake it on the spur of the moment. They will be able to encircle the city and disrupt communication, but nothing more.”


New areas restored by army in Lattakia, many ISIS terrorists killed in Raqqa
20 March، 2016
Provinces, SANA

Units of the Army and Armed Forces on Sunday continued military operations in several areas around the country, restoring new points and thwarting terrorist attacks where scores of terrorists were killed or injured.

Lattakia

The army units, in cooperation with popular defense groups, established control over the Points 287, 397 and 409 and killed members of terrorist groups that infiltrated to al-Sawda village in the northern countryside of the coastal Lattakia province.

The units later dismantled and removed the landmines and explosive devices which the terrorists had planted earlier in the points and the village.

A military source told SANA that the army units, aided by the popular defense groups, also thwarted an attack by terrorist groups on military posts in the direction of al-Qalaa Mountain and Ain al-Baida area in the province.

Later, army units, in cooperation with popular defense groups, established control over Rweiset Rasho, Jouret al-Nahla and the Points 550, 592, 540.5, 605 and 511.5 in the northern countryside of Lattakia.

Army eliminated the last terrorists sites in the area and dismantled the explosive devices and landmines left behind by the defeated terrorists.

Raqqa

In the meantime, many ISIS terrorists were confirmed dead or injured as a result of army airstrikes on their positions in the northeastern Raqqa province.

The military source explained to SANA that the army’s air force carried out in the past 24 hours sorties targeting gatherings of terrorists and several centers and sites for ISIS terrorist organization in the southern part of Raqqa city.

As a result of the intensive airstrikes, the centers targeted were destroyed, leaving dozens of ISIS terrorists dead or wounded, the source said.

Meanwhile, it was reported in the media that the so-called “Wali of Raqqa” within ISIS, who is named Ali Mousa al-Shawakh, was killed in the airstrikes.

Along with al-Shawakh, an ISIS checkpoints official nicknamed Abu Farah was also among the dead.

Deir Ezzor

The army units clashed with ISIS terrorists in the surrounding of Deir Ezzor Airport in the eastern Deir Ezzor province, killing many of them and injuring others.

According to a field source, the army units foiled a terrorist attack of ISIS in the axes of al-Sinaa neighborhood, the villages of al-Jafra and Hweijet Saker and on Hrabish neighborhood in Deir-Ezzor city, inflicting heavy losses upon the terrorists.

Another army unit clashed with ISIS terrorists after two suicide terrorists blew up explosive belts in front of Furat al-Sham Hotel in al-Bogheilia area in the northwestern countryside of the province, killing or injuring many of the terrorists.

Aleppo

Army units repelled in the past hours ISIS attacks on the villages of Kafr Saghir and Babins in the northern countryside of Aleppo province.

A source on the ground explained to SANA that the army units, backed by supporting forces, clashed with the ISIS terrorists who attacked the two villages, thwarting the assault attempt.

Many of the attackers were killed or injured, and the rest managed to flee, according to the source.

Later on Sunday, a military source said that the Syrian Air Force destroyed ISIS’ dens and gatherings along with their weapons and ammunition in Deir Hafir and Maskana in the eastern countryside of Aleppo.

Homs

The army’s air force launched airstrikes against several ISIS sites in Homs countryside.

Gatherings of ISIS terrorists were hit in airstrikes in al-Qaryatain city, 80 km southeast of Homs city.

The air force also targeted sites and gatherings of ISIS terrorists in the area surrounding Tadmur (Palmyra) city and in Khneifis area and al-Sawana village to the southwest of Tadmur, inflicting losses upon them in personnel and equipment.

Hama

The Army Air Force destroyed positions and gatherings of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in Hama countryside.

The Air Force carried out strikes against gatherings and dens of ISIS terrorist organization in Qastal Shamali and Qastal Jounoubi villages and Oqeirbat town in Salmiyeh countryside and destroyed them.

Terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra were killed and their positions were destroyed during strikes that were carried out by the Air Force against their gatherings and hotbeds in al-Inkawi village on the outskirts of al-Ghab Plain 79 kilometers to the north west of Hama city.


 

Seven civilians killed in terrorist attacks on Aleppo and Idleb
20 March، 2016
Aleppo, SANA

Terrorist groups targeted with rocket and mortar shells al-Sheikh Maqsoud and Bab al-Faraj neighborhoods in Aleppo, claiming the lives of four people and injuring twelve others in a new violation of the agreement of cessation of hostilities.

Local sources said in a phone call with SANA reporter that terrorists on Saturday night fired rocket and mortar shells on houses of citizens in al-Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, claiming the lives of four citizens, three of whom belong to one family, and injuring seven people.

A source at Aleppo Police Command told SANA reporter that terrorists positioned in Old Aleppo neighborhood targeted on Sunday Bab al-Faraj neighborhood with more than 3 rocket shells, injuring 5 persons, one of them a little girl.

On Friday, a woman was killed and 6 people were injured in a terrorist rocket attack on al-Midan neighborhood in Aleppo.

In Idleb neighboring province in a new breach of the cessation of hostilities, three civilians were killed when terrorists affiliated to the so-called Jaish al-Fateh attacked civilians in the besieged Foua town in the northern countryside of Idleb on Saturday and Sunday.

Local sources in al-Fouaa said that terrorist groups that are active in Bennish town fired sniper fire on the town’s neighborhoods, killing two civilians while a third one was seriously injured.

Terrorists from Jaish al-Fateh who are active in Bennish targeted with sniper fire al-Foua on Saturday evening, killing a woman.

Terrorist organizations breached the cessation of hostilities more than 249 times since it came into effect on February 27th in an implementation of the Russian-US agreement adopted by the UN Security Council in accordance to statement No. 2268.

Al-Foua which is located 10 kilometers to the north of Idleb has been besieged by terrorist organizations for two years and is being targeted with shells and terrorists try to infiltrate into it, but all attempts were thwarted by the locals and the popular committees. Hundreds of terrorists were killed.

Since the application of the cessation of hostilities agreement on 27th of February, more than 67 people were killed and 65 were injured including children and women due to terrorists’ shelling of residential neighborhoods.

R. Milhem /Manar/Qabas/ Manal/Ghossoun