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ISIS in Retreat as Separate Syrian Army Offensives Turn up the Heat

ISIS pushed back on one front, routed on another, and pulverized from the air for good measure


North

ISIS is losing ground in the northern Syria in the eastern Aleppo province. They're being steadily rolled back by Syria's elite Tiger Forces, which have reached the outskirts of Maskanah, the most significant town (pre-war population of 14,000) in this part of Syria.

The Tiger Force offensive against ISIS in eastern Aleppo marked the month of February and March when it was making quick progress but was then interrupted at the end of March 21 as Tigers deployed to check an al-Qaeda-led offensive in Hama in western Syria.

Since two weeks ago the eastern Aleppo offensive was restarted and has advanced some 30 kilometers to date.

By expelling ISIS from this area Aleppo city will be secured further. So far ISIS has been able to threaten the supply route leading to the city from the south and even sever it briefly on a few occasions but this threat may soon be a thing of the past.

The exposed link to Aleppo city

Raqqa

To the east, the US-backed YPG militia has finally closed in on the city of Raqqa. Backed up by 600+ US soldiers (Special Forces and Marine artillerymen) it has been converging on the ISIS stronghold for six months now taking a great deal of land in the process. 

At this pace the battle for the city itself could begin within weeks.

South

In the south, ISIS suffered a dramatic setback. It was forced to concede a whooping 2,700 square kilometers south of Palmyra in just a few days.

The Syrian army routed ISIS in a clever operation where enemy was attacked and squeezed from three directions at once. When their back was threatened ISIS beat a retreat giving up dozens of villages without a real fight.

The area in question is sparsely populated but the victory secures an exposed flank for the expected push from Palmyra towards the encircled city of Deir ez-Zor in the east.

The Russian-trained 5th Corps, and the Russian air force played a big and visible role in the operation.

In an additional coup a massive ISIS convoy was decimated in the adjacent desert from the air. Apparently ISIS planned to stage a counter-attack and recover some of the lost ground and morale. Their plan failed when the Syrian and Russian air forces detected their force and pulverized it from the air. 

Another possibility is that this was a convoy of ISIS fighters retreating from the pocket. In this version the convoy attempting to flee the pocket over mountains as the Syrians had cut off all the roads, and was easy prey due to slow speed in rugged terrain.

Conclusion

In sum we can say the Syrian army is taking full advantage of the Russian-brokered cease fire deal with the Islamist rebellion in the west. The relative calm in the west has allowed it to orient towards eastern Syria instead and ISIS is already feeling the heat and losing ground because of it.


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