Featured image: Pro-government forces hold the Syrian flag as they pose for a photo in the village of al-Sahel, near the rebel held town of Yabrud, nearly 80 kilometres north of Damascus, on March 4, 2014.
Three maps of Syria show the immense progress the Syrian government forces and their allies have made over the last few month.
During the last half year the Syrian Arab Army not only liberated al-Qaeda held parts of east-Aleppo city, but also the Islamic State held eastern part of Aleppo governate. The closing move happened yesterday when the last ISIS held area in the governate was cut off and the enemy retreated. The area north of the arrows is now free of ISIS fighters. Mines, IEDs and sleeper agents still need to be searched for.
In a next step the Syrian Army will move simultaneously from north and south to connect the red areas between (roughly) south of Al-Thawrah and Palmyra. This will enclose and clean the ISIS bulge in the west and secure Homs governate as well as the supply line to Aleppo city.
The Russian rearming, retraining and reorganizing of the Syrian Army has really helped. Russian air support delivers the necessary protection and interdiction capabilities for large movements. De-conflicting zones in the western part of the country as well as the cleanup of several pockets of “rebels” near the big cities freed up ten-thousands of Syrian soldiers. The reinforcements provided through Iran created the additional temporary manpower needed to regain and clean the liberated areas. A total of 40,000 men are engaged in the eastern campaign. When the local Syrian government structures are re-established in the liberated areas the additional forces will no longer be needed.
On a larger scale the immense progress of the Syrian government during the last six month becomes even more obvious. The (red) government held areas were enlarged considerably:
Note that most of the (grey) ISIS area in the east is uninhabited steppe or desert. ISIS is concentrated in a few villages and cities along the Euphrates river. The south-eastern green area, currently held by U.S. supported “rebels”, is also mostly empty space. To liberate these areas still requires some diligence and time to prevent ambushes and to remove the few enemy strongholds along the way.
The above maps put to rest the often repeated propaganda about a presumed “unwillingness” of the SAA to fight ISIS. According to IHS Janes the forces of the Syrian government coalition, not the U.S. supported “rebels”, are the most engaged in defeating ISIS in Syria:
Between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, 43 percent of all Islamic State fighting in Syria was directed against President Assad’s forces, 17 against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the remaining 40 percent involved fighting rival Sunni opposition groups — in particular, those who formed part of the Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield coalition.
Without external hostile interference the legitimate Syrian government will be back in control of all significant parts of its country by the end of this year.