Syria - Ready To Start The Daraa Campaign
19 June, 2018
There are signs that the long expected liberation of the Daraa region in southwest Syria is about to begin. After a month of negotiations between Russia, Israel, Jordan and the U.S. no peaceful solution has been found. The various terrorist forces in the (green) area, including al-Qaeda aligned HTS and groups loyal to the Islamic State, have rejected all negotiations. For over a month Russian negotiators tried to convince locals to give up and to reconcile with the government. But the hardliners under the rebels have killed anyone who talked with the Russians. The U.S. government has warned against a Daraa operation and threatened to intervene.
First airstrikes were launched by the Syrian government today against villages in the eastern part of the Deraa area. Some local fighting is ongoing. This is not yet the expected all out attack on the 'rebel' held areas but the testing of enemy forces.
The Syrian army has assembled a large force to liberate the southwest. It includes ten thousands of soldiers, more than 100 tanks and lots of artillery. Short range air defenses have been moved into the area to protect the Syrian troops. A well coordinated attack on several front and multiple axes should allow for a quick victory.
Israel, with U.S. backing, might intervene in such an operation even if it makes little sense to do so. The current state can not continue indefinitely. Any intervention might well lead to a war for which Israel is unprepared. The Syrian army is willing and able to hit back into Israel. After seven years of war it is not afraid of a fight.
The Russian military is warning of a false-flag "chemical incident" in Deir Ezzor governorate. The Syrian Observatory reports that Islamic State remnants in the southeastern desert and in the Rukban camp, both under cover of the U.S. occupied zone around al-Tanf, prepare for a large attack on Syrian government forces. It claims that such an attack is an attempt to occupy the zone between al-Tanf and Albu Kamal at the Euphrates. Both operation would be planned diversions intended to draw Syrian forces away from Deraa and could provide excuses for U.S. intervention on the opposition side.
Late Sunday an airstrike destroyed a building in the Harri area near Albu Kamal directly on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The building was used as a headquarter for the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) who are securing the border in coordination with the Syrian army in the fight against the Islamic State. More than 20 fighters were killed and more than 10 were wounded. This may have been in preparation for the reportedly planned large ISIS attack.
The strike makes otherwise little military sense. The PMU are nominally under command of the Iraqi government. They used a house on the Syrian side, some 200 meters from the border, as there was no adequate space on the Iraqi side. While they may have Iranian support and may help the Syrian army in some of its operations they are neither Iranian troops nor do they belong to the Lebanese Hezbullah.
The Syrian government accused the U.S. of having attacked the building. One U.S. source claims to CNN that the Israeli air-force attacked the site. I doubt that this is true. The U.S. has previously attacked Syrian government aligned forces in the area. It obviously continues to use ISIS to disrupt Syrian army operations. But as the U.S. needs Iraq it can not admit that it hit Iraqi forces. That would practically guarantee that the incoming Iraqi government would tell it to leave. It might have asked Israel to provide a cover for the strike.
Technically Israel could have done the attack. It would have needed tanker support and Jordanian compliance for overflight. Over the weekend Netanyahoo announced that Israel would hit Iranian forces all over Syria. But even CNN notes that the strike is untypical for Israel and does not make any sense.
Whoever committed the strike did so in an airspace that is controlled by the U.S. military. The leaders of the PMU in Iraq will use it to rally their forces against any U.S. bases in the country.
In north Syria Turkey is continuing its colonization of Syrian towns and regions. Turkish post offices, Turkish teachers, policemen and imans are pushing the population to adopt Turkish culture. It will more difficult to dislodge than the few thousand 'rebels' in the Deraa region.
Syrian Offensive Begins Near Jordanian Border
Israeli News Live
Unexpected Early Syrian Offensive Begins Near Jordanian Border near Daraa. 60 plus tanks have been moved into the area and Russian officers are training extensively their counter parts.