Syria Daily, July 10: Insurgent Gains in Northwest and Southwest

Scott Lucas
By Scott Lucas July 10, 2014 06:52 Updated

Syria Daily, July 10: Insurgent Gains in Northwest and Southwest

Story Highlights

  • Insurgents take more checkpoints near regime's main 2 bases in Idlib Province
  • Opposition isolating last major regime position in Quneitra Province

Related Articles

LATEST: Video — Insurgents Push Islamic State Out of Masraba in East Ghouta

THURSDAY FEATURES

Insurgents continued to advance in northwest Syria on Wednesday, while renewing their offensive and putting pressure on regime forces in the southwest.

Sources and videos confirmed that the opposition overran more checkpoints near the regime’s two major bases, al-Hamidiya and Wadi ad-Deif, in Idlib Province in northwestern Syria.

Insurgents attack with TOW anti-tank missiles near the al-Hamidiya base:

Insurgents inside the ad-Dahman checkpoint:

Fighters also overran the al-Tarraf checkpoint. Both al-Tarraf and ad-Dahman are south of Maarat al-Numan.

Insurgents are seeking to isolate the two bases and to clear Syrian forces from the highway from Hama Province to Maarat al-Numan.

In the southwest, insurgents renewed their advance in Quneitra Province, near the Golan Heights and the demilitarized zone with Israel. They are pressing the last concentration of regime forces in Quneitra, the Brigade 90 base (see map).

Insurgents control most of the territory between Quneitra and Daraa in southern Syria, and success in their latet operations would isolate Syrian forces in Daraa Province.


Video: Insurgents Push Islamic State Out of Masraba in East Ghouta

Insurgents have retaken the town of Masraba, in East Ghouta near Damascus, from the Islamic State:

The Islamic State had hoped to hold the town to gain a foothold in East Ghouta, much of which is occupied by insurgents.

More Than 50 Civilian Deaths for 1st Day in Week

After a week of relatively low civilian casualties, deaths spiked on Thursday.

The Local Coordination Committees reported 77 fatalities, including 20 in Idlib Province, 17 in Daraa Province, 16 in Aleppo Province, and 14 in Damascus and its suburbs.

Scott Lucas
By Scott Lucas July 10, 2014 06:52 Updated
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9 Comments

  1. RedTornadoes July 10, 20:15

    GROWING SIGNS OF REGIME ATTRITION ARE VERY HARD TO HIDE

    Thinned and vulnerable checkpoints. Tanks are getting wiped at an accelerated pace. Rebels are in Quinetra and near Maarat Al-Numan.

    Iranian advisors recommended the thinned out checkpoint as a solution to manpower shortages. The downside is that such checkpoints are falling more easily. As The Prisoner tweets: he writes: “many sources say Assad’s lines and checkpoints are getting thinner and thinner as his manpower pool shrinks from losses.”

    Video show rebels have been knocking off tanks at a greatly increased rate over the last two days. Go to Johnny Six on twitter to check it out. He enjoys keeping count of tank losses. Recently a regime propagandist assured us that a drop in ATGMs strikes was “proof” that rebels were running short on such devices. Every pause is interpreted as some sort of regime triumph but, as I noted, they are common even the most successful offensives.

    For now rebels seem to have stopped the regime/ISIS advance in Aleppo. I still favor withdrawing to let the regime and ISIS fight it out there . I wonder if Assad sent too many forces to Aleppo and it is costing them on other fronts.

    SADDAM’S GHOST: Michael Weiss explores how Saddam’s holdovers in Iraq are emerging as Islamic State supporters

    https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentaryanalysis/555169-saddams-ghost

    East Ghouta (Damascus): REBELS KILL 4 ISIS EMIRS

    According to sources 50 ISIS were killed today in Mesraba in Ghouta including 4 emirs during campaign by JA, Ajnad Sham & others. Souce: Al Ghairb. Too bad Al-Maliki’s army can’t do that nor could the woeful SAA assuming it had the slightest interest in fighting ISIS rather than allying with it.

    Report: U.S. Ignored Warnings Before ISIS Takeover of a Key City

    Three weeks before Deir Ezzor fell, the FSA warned Susan Powers that even though they strongly outnumbered ISIS, they lacked the arms and ammunition to hold it off. “I’ll get back to you” said the White House and never did thanks obviously to President Hamlet and the man closest to him among all advisors, his poisonous chief of staff.

    Excerpt: ““She (Susan Powers) is trying, others are trying, but the small cadre around the President, most of whom have no national security experience, are vetoing it and they have been for years,” McCain said….White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough rebuffed Power’s recommendation that the U.S. increase its support to the FSA. When Obama mocks the rebels, he is echoging McDonough’s views. This guy is has a Svengali like and fatal influence on Syrian policy.

    McDouough advocates “letting the regime and Al Queda fight it out” (his words) based on the theory it would drain Iran. He always seems to put political concerns ahead of US national security and gnores four things: First, the regime has never yet fought terrorism. Secondly, the regime allied itself with terrorism ISIS). Thirdly, rebels are not “all Al Queda” as McDouough implies. Finally, if you want to drain Iran, you can’t pick a better way than arming the rebels, not disarming them.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/10/u-s-ignored-warnings-before-isis-takeover-of-a-key-city.html

    NY TIMES TELLS THE DISGRACEFUL STORY OF OBAMA’S BUNGLING SYRIA POLICY

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/world/middleeast/obamas-uncertain-path-amid-syria-bloodshed.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

    WASHINGTON POST: Five Myths About the Islamic State

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-the-islamic-state/2014/07/03/f6081672-0132-11e4-8572-4b1b969b6322_story.html

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  2. James July 10, 18:59

    So it has been a month since ISIS took Mosul and the huge ISIS offensive got started. Mosul fell on June 10th. For the major players I am attempting to identify the overall net gains/losses in territory. My point is how does this translate in the end of the rebellion.

    ISIS:
    Gains – Huge gains in Deir Ezzor. Basically took Deir Ezzor city all the way to Bukamal. Took area North of Aleppo City and now basically control Eastern Aleppo. Some advances into Kurdish territoy in the North and Northeast. Now they have a presense in Eastern Ghouta.

    Losses: They control a lot of populated cities and a lot of people are getting pissed off at their ridiculous rules.

    Regime (lumped with Hezbollah and other pro-regime groups).:
    Gains – Big gains in East Aleppo (Sheikh Najjar). Kassab in Latakia. Where else have they been able to capitalize?

    Losses – Minor losses in Idlib and Quneitra

    Rebels
    Gains – Small gains in Idlib and Quneitra (possible helped by influx of fighters from the East).

    Losses – The entire Euphrates valley (Deir Ezzor to Bukamal).

    Kurds –
    Gains -
    Gains are primarily in Iraq

    Losses –
    Seems that they have some small losses of territory in the North.

    Reply to this comment
  3. RedTornadoes July 10, 17:48

    To James re: SHOULD REBELS STAY OR GO IN ALEPPO?

    You raise some good points for staying. either choice involves tradeoffs and advantages I thing the compensating gains of withdrawing from Aleppo exceed the advantages of staying. Going would place the regime in a lose/lose position. if you assume that ISIS wants Aleppo for military, propaganda and morale reasons–a shocker equivalent to its capture of Mosul in Iraq. Either option gives the rebels a morale boost and gives the regime the reverse.

    If Assad fights, he can’t win due to lousy fighters vis good fighters and supply cutoffs. If he walks away from it out of fear of ISIS, it confirms to everyone in and outside Syria the regime is definitely losing. It draws attention to the regime’s long alliance with ISIS and new “serve you right” consequences.The worst consequence handing over Aleppo to Assad is that Alalawites and other supporting minorities in Aleppo or on the coast.would see it as a massive sellout. Those minorities also would also be driven to review the history of Assad’s ugly collaboration with ISIS.

    THE MANPOWER ISSUE

    As you noted yesterday, Aleppo presently is a source of manpower for rebels elsewhere., especially Hama to Idlib. But letting it go would free up far more fighters for other fronts wjhile not doing the same for Assad unless he chooses to hand Aleppo over. now, the escape routes to south and west contain more rebels than ever. Once the regime is gone–either by defeat or betrayal, you may see local alliances between Sunnis and Alawites unconnected to the regime and driven by hated of ISIS rule. Sunnis will never side with Alawites through the regime regardless of Obama and Ryan Crocker’s fantasies.

    THE SUPPLY ISSUE

    Idlib cannot survive the flood of fighters unleashed ifg rebels simply withdraw from Aleppo. Aren’t there supply roads from Idlib to Turkey to offset the lost Turkey to Aleppo supply route? If so, shouldn’t they be easier to defend than the present ones near Aleppo? Finally if the rebels leave Aleppo, why would they need the latter? If unneeded, where’s the loss?

    New supply routes in the Qalamoun/ Quysar area also seem likely. Already many rebels withdrawn from Deir Ezzor to this area have given Hezbollah too much to handle with avaialble manpower as it admits. Thrown in a reasoable proportion of rebel forces in a total withdrawal from Aleppo and I can’t see the regime holding on t either Qalamoun or Quysar. Rebel capacities would be greatly increased between Idlib and Hama and in the Salimeyeh area as well. The regime cannot do likewise.

    OTHER POTENTIAL ADVANTAGES OF ABANDONING ALEPPO

    #1: At least a half-dozen airports if not more would become vulnerable to freed up assets

    #2: Rebels would have the potential resources to threaten the coast both via Idlib/Latakia and west of Homs/Hama toward Banias and Tartus. Both cities which would be cut off from Damascus and Homs as well. Instead of having to take the offensive inside those cities, this would force the regime to do the reverse as rebels defend in favorable terrain.

    #3: A rebel withdrawal from Aleppo and the prospect of ISIS taking over would blow up in Obama’s face and induce panic in Washington and elswhere.
    Isolationists may be able to sell inaction vs. Assad but not vs. ISIS which is rightly seen as a growing threat to the West and USA.

    #4: Losing Aleppo, whether by abandonment or mlitary defeat would totally undermine we “need” Assad more than we need the rebels to fight terrorism.

    #5: By staying in Aleppo, rebels continue the present “dynamic stalemate” (actually a molasses slow rebel victory). Abandoning it shakes up everything and makes both ISIS and rebels fighting it the big winners. As a two-way loser with a crummny army, I can’t see Assad surviving long in this scenario. When he goes down this becomes an ISIS-rebel contest which gives all of the following no choice but to support pr some cases no longer oppose the rebels: The USA, Europe, Russia, Iraq and Iran.

    Reply to this comment
    • caligola July 10, 20:40

      Abbandon Aleppo and you will never take those areas back. Abbandon Aleppo to fight were idlib and hama? Yeah right conceeding to the enemy at your rear a whole city and its bases. Loosing Aleppo would mean loosing after the whole east the whole north. Without any gains elsewhere. It would be the biggest setback ever militarily, strategically and a blow to morale like any other defeat. There is a reason why they are desperatally trying to resist.

      Reply to this comment
      • RedTornadoes July 10, 23:07

        If ISIS takes it and wipes out regime forces there and moves on to Iraq, while rebel forces elsewhere increase massively the regime is doomed. After wiping out the regime, ISIS would have trouble garrisoning it as well with forces left behind.

        Reply to this comment
    • James July 10, 23:58

      quick response to your reasoning to give up Aleppo. Answering your questions above.
      #1 – Leaving Aleppo would also free up airports in Aleppo. You can’t just throw numbers in Hama and Idlib and expect results. What they really need is better weaponry.
      #2 – Again it’s under the assumption that more troops = more gains. It’s not that simple. I don’t think Latakia/Tartus are realistic goals right now. Maybe another small surprise offensive again (i.e. Kassab) but that’s about it. Idlib looks the most promising right now for the rebels.
      #3 – If losing Mosul to ISIS hasn’t caused huge panic with Washington, how will Aleppo? Fortunately, ISIS does not really pose a serious threat to the US at the moment. I don’t think the US will really panic unless Baghdad falls to ISIS which I don’t think will happen.
      #4 – This doesn’t bother Assad too much it seems. However, I’m curious about the Alawite thinking of not fighting ISIS?
      #5 – I’m really confused by this. If you think there was a slow rebel victory why would they leave. I don’t see any real winner in Aleppo right now and it appears to be a stalement (you can’t just look at the last couple of weeks). As the rebels bring in some reinforcements they probably will be able to take back some of the positions they lost. It’s a back and forth battle.
      #6 – I’m adding this one. It’s much easier to defend a position that to take a position. The rebels are entrenched in parts of Aleppo just like the regime. Just look at Libya. It was important to keep fighting on the Eastern Front (Brega) even though it was so tough to advance. Another example, In WWII should the allies have abandoned the front in Europe just because they were having more success in North Africa advancing to Italy. In Syria, Aleppo is the Brega. Both sides are about even in Aleppo right now.

      Reply to this comment
    • Ivan July 11, 09:14

      Rebels in recent weeks have in fact been following a strategy of using the regime as buffer to ISIS.

      If you observe the pattern of advances the regime made, they have all been towards north. Their attempt to reach the prison via Breij was blocked, and they have yet to make any advance west of the prison. I doubt regime will be dumb enough to move all the way to Azaz, but even now ISIS has almost nowhere left to strike the rebels at. With their Iraq offensive over, they can either hit the Kurds (suicide), press Bagdad (way too risky) attack Asad or stagnate (slow death for the Caliphate).

      I do agree in part with Red Tornado that Idlib is the more important target right now. However, not worth a full withdrawal. Additional forces around Maarat Al Numan are needed to hasten the fall of Hish and checkpoints around Hamidiyah and Wadi Deif, so forces can be freed up.

      The decisive battle for Aleppo will not be in the north-east but in the south-west. The ring road is already severed, and the last lynchpin in the area is Base 552. If that base falls before the Army is able to clear a path from the airport to their forces in the city, game over. The rebels will have a direct supply line to their units in Salaheddine, making the “blockade” in the east moot and the rebel encirclement of regime forces in the city complete.
      I really don’t know why they hadn’t pressed that area more heavily. If I was the rebels commander in Aleppo, I’d throw everything I could spare to that area.

      Reply to this comment
      • caligola July 11, 16:38

        `I really don’t know why they hadn’t pressed that area more heavily. If I was the rebels commander in Aleppo, I’d throw everything I could spare to that area.`

        Answer is : they (rebels) dont really have that much to throw at anybody at this time in aleppo. And deciding to withdraw would be suicidal.

        Reply to this comment
  4. RedTornadoes July 10, 17:14

    To Al-Bistani: AT NO TIME WAS ISIS EVER A REBEL ALLY

    ISIS was never, ever part of the rebels but claimed to be acting on their own and against the regime but never really doing so, except to show up at the end, shoot a few times, grab a big chunk of the spoils and oil resources, then set up is own administration as rebels move on. This wasn’t obvious instantly. Rebels hoped ISIS would behave itself as JAN has.

    As time passed it became obvious that ISIS was aiding the regime by kiilling its favorite targets: eliminating rebel commanders and fighters, killing democratic activists, nurses, doctors and journalists (all favorite regime targets), by giving info for regime attacks on HQs, and by attacking minorities, even Al Alawites to frame rebels, convert the rebellion into a sectarian one and away from its original central goal (democracy) and to splinter minorities away from the rebels.

    Forced to fight from the start against a regime that intiatially had a monopoy of heavy weapons, rebels were in no position to pick a fight with ISIS. The hope was that ISIS would come to its senses and behave itself like JAN. Not only didn’t it happen, but ISIS behavior became worse and its open collaboration with the regime no longer concealed.

    As a reward for such deeds, Assad supplied ISIS with air cover and lots of vehicles, weapons and otherr suppies. ISIS forces moved openly through regime checkpoints. ISIS forces simply abandoned to the positions locaions they had agreed to defend, like Al Safira and a key town in Qalamoun. The backstabbing became non-stop where ISIS had been careful to conceal its intent earliier.

    For full details on regime genocide and mass atrocities and why a havy majority of Syrians hate the regime, I recommend the Revolting Syrian site which includes lots of videos:

    http://www.therevoltingsyrian.com/post/48363197444/leaked-video-assads-forces-abduct-torture

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