Syria Daily: ISIS Fights Back Near Raqqa

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Members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, inspect the Tabqa dam on March 27, 2017, which has been recently partially recaptured, as part of their battle for the jihadists' stronghold in nearby Raqa. US-backed Syrian fighters paused their offensive on a key dam held by the Islamic State group to allow a technical team to enter the complex, a spokeswoman said. / AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN

Kurdish-led SDF says it repelled ISIS attacks at Tabqa Dam and on Tabqa airbase


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The Islamic State has tried to fight back near its center of Raqqa in Syria, attacking the US-supported, Kurdish-led forces who are trying to take a major dam 40 km (25 miles) west of the city.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said they repelled the counter-attack at the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River.

The SDF — backed by US airstrikes, weapons, special forces, and an airdrop of troops — seized the northern part of the 4.5-km (2.8-mile) dam last weekend, but ISIS fighters continue to hold the southern portion.

US airstrikes damaged control rooms at the dam last weekend. ISIS and local activists said the structure was in danger of collapse, but the US military and the SDF denied there was any “imminent danger”.

See Syria Daily, March 29: Is Taqba Dam in Danger of Collapse After US Airstrikes?

The Islamic State also attacked the Tabqa Airbase, captured just over a week ago by the SDF, and northeast of the ISIS-held town of Tabqa.

After months of political disputes, the SDF is planning to move on Raqqa, controlled by ISIS since late 2013. The US appears to have resolved or put aside Turkish objections to the offensive — Ankara considers the Kurdish militia YPG, which leads the SDF, as part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK.

Families continue to flee the area, both because of the fighting and of US airstrikes which have killed scores of civilians as they tried to hit ISIS targets.

The SDF said at least 7,000 people have been displaced and taken shelter.

Free Syrian Army to Join Kurdish-Led Offensive on Raqqa?

About 6,000 Free Syrian Army fighters from the Turkey-rebel Euphrates Shield Operation will join the SDF’s offensive on Raqqa, according to the opposition outlet Zaman al-Wasl.

Haytham al-Afisi, an Euphrates Shield commander and former Syrian army colonel said the US has requested the commanders of the FSA groups ensure unity to receive weapons and funding. He claimed pressure from Washington had made Turkey lift its objections to the Kurdish-led operations.

TOP PHOTO: Syrian Democratic Forces fighters on the northern side of Tabqa Dam last week (Delil Suleiman/Reuters)


Pro-Regime Paper: Democratic Congresswoman Visited Assad with Offer of Trump Cooperation

The Lebanese pro-Assad newspaper al-Akhbar claims that Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii brought an offer of cooperation from the Trump Administration to President Assad.

The article from editor Ibrahim al-Amin is based on a range of sources who appear to be close to the regime.

Al-Amin claimed that Assad presented documents confirming the involvement of US security officials in “terrorism”.

Gabbard, supposedly told by Trump that Assad’s removal is no longer in US interests, said to Assad, “My boss is asking if you will answer your phone if he calls.”

Assad’s claimed reply: “Yes, this is my phone number.”


Supported by Airstrikes, Pro-Assad Forces Take Village in Northern Hama

Supported by scores of airstrikes, pro-Assad forces have regained another village in northern Hama Province.

Pro-opposition activists say Maardas was lost on Monday. That leaves the town of Souran as the remaining significant gain from the rebel offensive that was launched two weeks ago.

Some activists report more than 200 airstrikes today, including sustained bombing of the town of Halfaya.

Regime forces have also bombed intensively to try and retake parts of Jobar in northeastern Damascus after a rebel offensive last month, with 66 strikes reported on the area and nearby suburbs.


Free Syrian Army Criticizes “4 Towns Agreement” Between Other Factions & Iran-Hezbollah

The Free Syrian Army has condemned an agreement for removal of people from two regime enclaves and two besieged opposition-held towns, arranged between the factions Ahrar al-Sham and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and the Assad regime’s allies Iran and Hezbollah.

The agreement, reached last week through Qatari mediation, provides for movement from the enclaves of al-Fu’ah and Kafraya, north of Idlib city, and the towns of Madaya and Zabadani in Damascus Province, besieged by the Assad regime and Hezbollah since July 2015. The regime will also release 1,500 detainees, including as many women as possible, and nine-month truces will be established for other towns in Idlib Province and suburbs south of Damascus.

The FSA says the agreements “establishes a dangerous phase of ethnic and sectarian cleansing in preparation for redrawing the borders of the Syrian state”, calling the removals a “crime against humanity”. It called on the UN Secretary General and Security Council to condemn the deal.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition and High Negotiations Committee have also objected.


Russian Warplanes Knock Out Hospital in Idlib Province

In their ongoing attacks in northwest Syria, pro-Assad warplanes have struck the national hospital in Maarat al-Num’an in Idlib Province.

Ten people were injured, including a member of hospital staff. The hospital, supported by the Syrian American Medical Society, is now out of service.

The White Helmets civil defense organization indicated the strikes were by the Russians, with three attacks using thermobaric bombs.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Maardas taken back by regime. Just Souran to go and the disaster is completed. Another op another huge failure. Worst times ahead i fear.

  2. “The SDF — backed by US airstrikes, weapons, special forces, and an airdrop of troops”

    Like in afghanistan, the yankees will have to stay forever to prevent the collapse of another artificial status quo.

  3. Maybe. Forever is a long time. The ignorant mistake the Bush administration made was attempting “nation building” in a region of the world that defines dysfunctional. The Russian/Iranian strategy of using proxies seems more likely. We will see whose proxy is more “macho”.

    • I never seem to remember historically a time were a civilian population was bombed both from the US and Russia at the same time and last but not the least bombed by its own airforce too. Immagine beeing a civilian in the “wrong areas”.

      • IS did not pop up out of thin air. IS was created in a friendly environment, and was heavily supported by the locals. Same locals that now pay the price for their adventurism and recklessness

        • “IS was created in a friendly environment, and was heavily supported by the locals”

          Yes. But there´s a taboo in western journalism and they don´t dare to make that claim (automatic excommunication would follow). Most government officials and international “analists” also uphold the fantasy of an ISIS popping up “ex-nihilo”. Clever people should expect a ferocious insurgence as never seen before, knowing that western might was useless against the taliban the prospect is not good at all.

        • ISIS was heavily supported by Assad, because he wanted to tar all the opposition with the brush of “terrorism”. It was supported to some extent by the anti-Assad Syrians because of its claim to be a pure religious movement — the same claim that led Europeans to support the Crusades.
          .
          You can sell a great deal of rubbish if you stick a “Muslim” or “Christian” label on it. Think of the TV preachers in the US.

  4. #Aleppo: “6 weeks after takeover of Al-Bab #FSA still uncovering #ISIS weapon caches, here a bunker with 100s of mortar shells.” – QalaatAlMudiq
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    Rebels in Idlib better start doing this now that there badly thought out Hama offensive has ended.
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    #Hama: 1) “As Rebels face enormous pressure in N. #Hama, call to all groups to bring fighters & equipment to #Hama frontlines.” – QalaatAlMudiq
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    After losing the surprise element? Big ask, most rebels can down now is to resume mobile warfare operations all over eastern Hama with the specific aim of finding route to supply arms/ammo into the Homs pocket and even if rebels do consider this possibility of resuming Hama offensive it should be done on 6 conditions: A) Opening of a 2nd front in eastern Hama. B) Appointment of a general military commander to coordinates defence of positions and with the power to discipline (e.g. punish commanders whose units stay fixed on an inactive section of the front). C) Giving company level (ie units of 100+ men) commanders whose front is idle/quiet the permission to engage in deep-behind-the-lines raids/ambushes/temporary offensives against regime check-points and depots instead of being idle. D) Appoint a general military secretary to provide/organise resources for the general military commander’s plan (e.g. by pooling all captured booty into a depot and then having the means to fairly distribute ammo EQUALLY to all participating rebel factions, making sure gas-masks are created/distributed before an offensive). E) In any new offensive in Hama the elements of covert (e.g. sleeper cells) and mobile (ie small units not fixed to one area but constantly raiding/ambushing behind enemy lines) warfare. F) Most important condition is – HAVE OUTLINED A COMMON STRATEGY and how a general military commander can implement that strategy in their operational (e.g. tactics that’s are going to be used, the areas to be targeted and by what deadline) planning.
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    Can’t be done? What did Zahran Alloush achieve with JaI under even more difficult conditions? What is YPG achieving right now?
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    What’s the damn point creating a common operations-room when you don’t have a centralised committee to create a common strategy? That’s like saying tomorrow we drive to Brazil and here’s the car but we’re not taking any maps, you’d call that retarded no? So how retarded is it for rebels not to have a strategy that is: 1) Not widely shared amongst commanders? 2) Not logically thought out? This is why rebel strategic planning is often so utterly incompetent because it doesn’t go beyond basics.
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    http://eaworldview.com/2017/04/syria-daily-3rd-set-of-forced-removals-from-al-waer-in-homs/
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    2) “reinforcements for Regime keep pouring into N. #Hama countryside. #IRGC/Hezbollah pictured ” – QalaatAlMudiq
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    Unless rebels are going to start launching mass raids across southern Aleppo rebels might as well adopt a scorch-earth policy (e.g. mining every road, booby-trapping every building and destroying the Mahardeh power plant or dam or any other important regime infrastructure etc) across Hama before heading back to Idlib. It’s irrelevant how high the KIA/WIA rebels inflict on Assadists if rebels don’t inflict some strategic (e.g. irreversible destruction of Hama airbase etc) damage.
    .
    #Question: Why didn’t rebels infiltrate some TOWie teams around the Mount Zayn Al-Abideen area first before launching their offensive against Qomhanne like lemminings? Rebels had the sense to do this to Nayrab airbase but why not for Mount Zayn Al-Abideen?

  5. While President Obama’s administration appeared to have a coherent if duplicitous Syria policy, it’s a little harder to say if the same is true of Trump’s.

    ‘”We don’t think the people want Assad anymore,” Haley said at a news conference on Monday, when asked about U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s remarks in the Turkish capital Ankara last week, in which he said that Assad’s status would be decided by the Syrian people.’
    [http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-usa-haley-idUSKBN1752BW]

    • Lets be clear. Obama is despised in the Arab street. One of the ironies in the Arab world, they would settle/accept/support an authoritative alfa leader over an intellectual beta even if it means giving up liberties that are taken for granted in the west. Something that is lost to the naive and ignorant liberal main street media in the west.

      • Bush had no clue when he dispatched Saddam. Obama came very close to repeating a strategic debacle like carter and the Shah in Egypt. If the Muslim brotherhood consolidated in Egypt it would have seriously impacting world security for a generation and set the Egyption people back a generation.. Erdogan is a loose cannon that has manifested indigenously. If the Turks “drink the cool aid”in the April referendum, the Turkish masses, ex Kurds will be in for decades of oppression and stagnation. Sad for them. How did Hugo fair in Venezuela. He took a country with the most potential, less Brazil, in south america and turned into a cess pool.

  6. A strategic dam overlooking the so-called Islamic State’s capital and final stronghold could pose a ‘biblical’ threat to tens of thousands of Syrians.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/31/isis-could-kill-thousands-with-biblical-weapon.html 3/31/2017

    Read Theology’s Prof. Emma Loosely’s article on @ConversationUK: How the West could (and should) have saved Palmyra: https://t.co/Bm09EVlHMp
    https://twitter.com/uofehumanities/status/717335403053916161 4/5/2016

    On November 24th [2016], we were privileged to host an evening in the company of Fr. Jacques Mourad, a Syrian Roman Catholic Priest, who shared his story of life in Syria, and his experience of being held captive by ISIS, and the way in which the local Muslim and Christian communities responded. The event drew a huge amount of interest, and even made its way to the Sunday programme on Radio 4.
    http://www.exeter-cathedral.org.uk/_assets/news/cathedral-news/2016/2016-december-cathedral-news.pdf 2016

    • A Sunday in Solidarity
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      September 8, 2015 / Adam
      .
      Throughout my journey as a Christian and now as an ordained minister, many worshipping Sundays stand out in my memory as particularly precious. I can now count another among them: the last Sunday evening, when our delegation visited the monastery in Sulaymaniyah.
      .
      We sat down with one of the members of the order here, Sister Frederica, originally from Germany, who told us their story. The monastery originated as Saint Elian Monastery in Syria and can trace its history to as far back as the 5th Century AD. It became the home of the Community of Al-Khalil, a monastic order whose ministry uniquely centres around building peace, understanding, and friendship between Muslims and Christians. The name “Al-Khalil” has unique significance for the community, as it means “friend of God,” and is Biblical and Q’uranic title of the patriarch Abraham, in whom both religions find their root. This interfaith ministry thrived in Syria right up until the revolution and subsequent civil war broke out, and in 2011 the community was forced to relocate here to Iraqi-Kurdistan. Since their time away, ISIS destroyed the original site of the Syrian monastery. […]
      .
      The community already lost its founder, Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, whom ISIS kidnapped two years ago while he was in Syria, and his fate remains unknown. Another priest in their order, Father Jacques Mourad, was kidnapped in May [2015.]
      https://theholydisorder.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/a-sunday-in-solidarity/ 9/8/2015

      Reverend Paolo Dall’Oglio, head of the Deir Mar Musa monastery in Syria […] believes that the West should realize that a federal state in Syria is the only way to protect the country’s integrity.
      https://kurdistancommentary.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/an-hour-with-father-paolo/ 8/15/2012

      SDF and PYD say that they don’t want to create a Kurdish state in northern Syria, but a federal region for all ethnic groups.
      http://aranews.net/2017/03/us-led-coalition-has-no-intention-to-create-federal-kurdish-state-in-syria-official/ 3/30/2017

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