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Tuesday, January 12

Syrian Army Coalition liberates strategic Salma, IS recaptures Al-Dawa

Gah. So many war reports I can't keep up but I have a new love; it's Yemen's Al Masdar news site. Not as many Syrian war reports as FARS -- nobody has as many reports as FARS, not even Syria's SANA -- but they're doing a good job reporting on the bigger battles, and up to this point they're the only site reporting that today IS took Al Dawa back from the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) -- again.  

But now I'm wondering whether SAA just wanted a good look at the present strength of Islamic State's forces in the region because the gossip over at Debkafile is that the army is planning something big. Of course the gossip is mixed with anti-Russian/Syrian propaganda they got off the back of the Pentagon's cereal box, but the kernel is that there's a planned offensive "to seize all the Syrian air facilities to the west of [Palmyra] from ISIS control."

In any case Al Masdar reports that Islamic State is back in control of Al Dawa:
On Tuesday morning in the Homs Governorate’s eastern countryside, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has launched a counter-attack in the western countryside of Palmyra (Tadmur) after enduring a 10 day long offensive from the Syrian Armed Forces.
ISIS began the counter-assault at the small village of Al-Dawa, where they struck the frontline positions of the National Defense Forces (NDF) near the western axis of Palmyra.
Following an intense series of firefights with the National Defense Forces and Kataebat Al-Ba’ath (Al-Ba’ath Battalions), ISIS was finally able to impose full control over Al-Dawa, marking the second time in two months that they have recaptured this village.
In addition to recapturing Al-Dawa, ISIS also seized four checkpoints outside of Al-Dawa and a large cache of weapons, ammunition, and armored vehicles.
The terrorist group has now shifted its attention to the imperative village of Al-Bayarat; this was captured by the Syrian Arab Army’s 67th Brigade of the 18th Tank Division two weeks ago.
[END REPORT] 
 Now to the good news:

Loss of Salma sends rebels fleeing in Lattakia
By Chris Tomson 
January 12, 2016 - 7:37 pm [local time]
Al Masdar

Early this morning, the Syrian Arab Army, National Defence Force, Syrian Social Nationalist Party and Syrian Resistance stormed the strategic town of Salma in eastern Lattakia and quickly forced Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) rebels to flee this vital high ground. Salma, which has long been considered an untouchable Islamist rebel stronghold, has undergone encirclement for weeks as government forces surrounded the town from its eastern, southern and western entrances. 

The offensive at Salma was predominantly carried out by Syrian ground troops due to the area’s mountainous terrain; however, countless air strikes were conducted by Syrian/Russian jets during the night and early morning while Syrian tanks provided necessary cover during the final push.

Contrary to false reports of Islamist rebels recapturing the town during the day, the Syrian Army has created a small buffer zone around Salma this afternoon and evening which effectively has them overlooking neighbouring villages and the all-important Lattakia-Idlib M5-Highway. Meanwhile, government troops further north keep pushing east along the Turkish border. Currently, Islamist rebels control merely a narrow 10 kilometer strip of land in the northeastern edge of Lattakia province.

During the past months, many rebel militants have fled Lattakia governorate as to halt rebel forces from losing ground in southern Aleppo. Thereby, local Turkmen rebel fighters in the Lattakian countryside have seen their positions overrun in dozens of villages. Furthermore, today’s victory at Salma serves as a huge morale boost for the Syrian Arab Army; many analysts had otherwise considered the town impenetrable as it had been rebel-held since July, 2012. 

It will not require many more losses before local Islamist rebels are forced to ensue in an all-out retreat towards Jisr al-Shigbour and Idlib.

[END REPORT]

Heh. The bad guys are going to find it tough sledding in Idlib. See my next post.

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