Syria Daily: Hezbollah Claims Pro-Assad Advance Towards Kurds-Led SDF


Pro-Assad forces moving from Aleppo Province towards SDF-held areas of Raqqa Province


Hezbollah’s media outlet claims that pro-Assad forces have made a significant advance in northern Syria, setting up a possible confrontation with the US-supported, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

The outlet of Hezbollah, a leading element in the pro-Assad military, said the offensive has moved from eastern Aleppo Province into Raqqa Province, where the SDF has been pushing back the Islamic State and is now attacking ISIS’s central position in the city of Raqqa.

The immediate achievement of a 20-mile move to the south, capturing seven villages, was to reach the road from Ithriya to SDF-held Tabqa and secure a supply route to regime-held Aleppo from ISIS attacks. The route can also be used for a drive into Raqqa Province.

The pro-Assad forces, which also include Iranian-led foreign militia, are also poised to retake al-Rusafa oil field, one of the many taken by ISIS since 2014 to put pressure on the Assad regime over energy supplies.

The pro-Assad forces and SDF, created in late 2015 and led by the Kurdish militia YPG, have largely avoided conflict. However, the advance of both groups against a weakening ISIS has raised the prospect of a fight for territory, as the YPG and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) pursue an autonomous Syrian Kurdistan and the Assad regime tries to block partition or even a federal Syria.

On Monday, Russia tipped off a shift in its line through its outlet Sputnik. The website continued a developing attack on the SDF as “terrorists” just like the Islamic State. It accused the Kurdish-led force of working with ISIS, even as the SDF advanced inside Raqqa city to reach the walls of the Old City.

See Russia Turns Against “Terrorist ISIS” Kurdish-Led SDF

UN: “Staggering” Loss of Life from US Airstrikes Near Raqqa

A UN commission has reported large numbers of civilians slain by US airstrikes near the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s central position in Syria, as the Americans support the offensive by the Kurdish-led SDF.

Paulo Pinheiro, the chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said:

We note in particular that the intensification of airstrikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced….

The imperative to fight terrorism must not, however, be undertaken at the expense of civilians who unwillingly find themselves living in areas where ISIL [the Islamic State] is present.

The committee, drawing from testimony of survivors and witnesses, said at least 300 people have been killed by the aerial attacks near and in Raqqa since March.

The US has only acknowledged 484 civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since June 2014.

The tracking group Airwars puts the number at more than 3,800.

Beyond Raqqa, Pinheiro said violence continues almost unabated across Syria, despite the Russian-led declaration of “de-escalation zones”: “Whether it be the unrestrained use of airstrikes against residential neighborhoods, attacks against doctors and hospitals, or the use of suicide bombers that deliberately target civilians, fighting remains brutal in purpose and reprehensible in method.”

Pinheiro said only one de-escalation zone, in northern Idlib Province and western Aleppo Province in northwest Syria, had seen a “discernible reduction” in violence — although local activists say that pro-Assad forces are continuing attacks even in those areas.

The official said, “The United Nations has only been permitted one humanitarian delivery in 2017.”

The Assad regime has effectively maintained sieges on opposition areas by denying permission for UN convoys to bring in aid.

TOP PHOTO: Claimed image of pro-Assad forces in northern Syria (Mikhail Voskresenskiy/Sputnik)

At Least 8 Killed in Pro-Assad Bombing of Shelter in Daraa Province

At least eight people have been killed in pro-Assad bombing of a shelter in Daraa Province, amid the escalation of bombardment by the regime and its allies.

The former school in Tafas was struck on Wednesday.

TAFAS BOMBING 14-06-17 2

As pro-Assad forces have tried to check a rebel advance in Daraa city and then launch a counter-offensive, they have stepped up bombing, shelling, and rocketing throughout the province in southern Syria.

See Syria Daily, June 12: Pro-Assad Forces Continue Bombardment of Daraa

US Deploys Advanced Rocket System for 1st Time

The US military has moved a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System from Jordan into eastern Syria for the first time, providing more protection for the Free Syrian Army base at Tanf near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.

The US has declared a 55-km (34-mile) exclusion zone around Tanf, where US special forces are present, to deter a pro-Assad offensive. On three occasions, US warplanes have bombed convoys that included Hezbollah fighters and Iranian-supported Iraqi militia.

HIMARS is a truck-mounted system which can fire missiles as far as 300 km (185 miles). It has also been deployed in northern Syria in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces against the Islamic State, as well as in Iraq.

The possibility of a confrontation between pro-Assad forces and the US-backed FSA has risen this spring with advances by both sides against a retreating ISIS. While the US has restrained the FSA from any attack on pro-Assad units, Washington is concerned about the establishment of a ground route for Iranian weapons supplies into Syria.

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  1. #Deraa: 1) “FSA #Southern_Front Youth of Sunna Division destroy regime convoy killing dozens w/ artillery Namer Bridge #Daraa” – badly_xeroxed
    2) “FSA destroyed a Regime tank with a direct hit from an artillery gun on the industrial area’s front line.” – CombatChris1
    Superb. I wonder whether they/rebels also use drone-guided mortar shelling like the rebels in northern Syria? Interesting that the accuracy of their shelling has improved much.
    3) “Rebels pounding with Grad rockets Marj Ruhayyil Airbase, hosting most of helicopters used to bomb Daraa prov” – QalaatAlMudiq
    Targeting strategic targets like this with mass (guided by a spotter?) shelling in order to inhibit regime aerial attacks shows that the strategic thinking of rebel officers is slowly improving.

  2. A interesting pair of articles.
    #International: UAE ambassador in the US states UAE intends to escalate economic blockade of Qatar –
    Excerpt: ‘Even if Qatar does accept the list of demands, Otaiba said they’d have to fulfill specific steps over a period of time to show seriousness before the countries would restore ties to the tiny, gas-rich country. “There will be an escalation of economic pressure” unless Qatar changes course, Otaiba said.’
    #Deraa: This one is how Hezbollah’s growing presence in southern Syria could pose not only a threat to Jordan and the US but also to Israel:
    Excerpt from the above link: “most of Hezbollah’s operations are seemingly aimed at splitting the province in two rather than taking control of it entirely. In doing so, the group presumably hopes to meet three goals: accessing more of the Golan Heights in order to better threaten Israel, cutting lines of communication to rebels in Deraa, and better securing Damascus against potential offensives by these rebels….As with its costly campaigns in Aleppo and Qusayr, the group clearly considers the border to be of strategic import, and its efforts there are supported by regime barrel bombs and Russian air cover. Barring more significant U.S. intervention, it will only be a matter of time before Hezbollah achieves its objectives in Deraa.”

  3. Syriac Christian forces @SyriacMFS and its female wing @HSNB_ fighting IS in #Raqqa ask for equal @coalition support… 6/13/2017

    Among the Dawronoye affiliated organizations in Iraq are the Beth Nahrin Patriotic Union (Huyodo Bethnahrin Athronoyo, HBA)[3] and the Nineveh Plain Forces (NPF) militia.[3][4] 6/3/2017

    Sons of Liberty International (#SOLI) offers to provide free training, advising, and supplies to any Coptic #Christian security force formed in #Egypt. 5/26/2017

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