2017 Abu Kamal offensive

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2017 Abu Kamal offensive
Part of the Eastern Syria campaign (September 2017–present), the Syrian Civil War and the Russian military intervention in Syria
Destruction of ISIS.svg
SAA and ISF advances along the border
Date23 October – 6 December 2017
(1 month, 1 week and 6 days)
LocationDeir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria
Result Decisive Syrian Army and allies victory
Territorial
changes
Abu Kamal changes hands three times before being captured by the Syrian Army on 19 November[6]
Belligerents

Syrian Arab Republic

Russia

 Iran

Allied militias:
Hezbollah[2]
PMF militias[3][1][4]
Liwa Fatemiyoun[2]

Emblem of Liwa Al-Quds.svg Liwa al-Quds[5]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Commanders and leaders
Syria Maj. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan[7]
Iran Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani[7]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (possibly)[8]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Hani Al-Thalji 
(field commander)[9]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Munzer Al-Shishani 
(field commander)[9]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Mohammad Al-Safi 
(field commander)[9]
Units involved

Syrian Army

Syrian Arab Air Force
PMF militias

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Military of ISIL

  • Wilayat Deir ez-Zor
Strength

Several thousand

  • 8,000 Lebanese, Iraqi, Afghan and Palestinian fighters[10]
  • Tiger Forces: 450[10]
  • Republican Guard's 124th Brigade: 300[10]
  • 4th Division's 42nd Brigade: 300[10]
5,000–10,000+[11][12][13]
Casualties and losses
376+ killed[14][15][5][16][17] 352+ killed[14][16]
269 civilians killed[18]

The 2017 Abu Kamal offensive, codenamed Operation Fajr-3 (translated Operation Dawn 3),[10] was a military offensive launched by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies against members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. The aim of the offensive was to capture ISIL's last urban stronghold in Syria, the border town of Abu Kamal. This offensive was a part of the larger Eastern Syria campaign.

The offensive took place at the same time as the Western Iraq campaign, which was aimed at recapturing the ISIL-held border town of Al-Qa'im and the rest of western Iraq.

Background[edit]

The offensive[edit]

Advance to the border[edit]

On 23 October, government forces started an offensive to reach Abu Kamal; over the next 48 hours, 42 ISIL militants and 27 pro-government fighters were killed as ISIL attempted to halt the military's advance. By 25 October, ISIL managed to push government troops out of the town Al-Asharah, as well as parts of Al-Quriyah, along the western banks of the Euphrates river. Meanwhile, heavy fighting raged at the ISIL-held strategic T-2 Pumping Station in the southwestern countryside of Abu Kamal,[19] with the Syrian Army and Hezbollah reportedly managing to surround the station on three sides.[2] On 26 October, the Army and its allies captured the T-2 Pumping Station,[20][21] after which they set up positions 45 km (28 mi) from Abu Kamal.[22] The government's advances were backed up by heavy Russian air-strikes.[23][24]

On 27 October, as government forces were within 40 km (25 mi) of Abu Kamal,[25] ISIL was preparing the town's defenses.[26] The next day, an ISIL counter-attack pushed back government troops in the area of the T-2 Station and the militants once again attacked the town of Al-Quriyah in the Euphrates river valley, seizing parts of it.[27] On 29 October, government troops re-positioned 65 km (40 mi) southwest of Abu Kamal,[28] while they also withdrew from Al-Quriyah and Mahkan to Mayadin after suffering heavy casualties in several ambushes.[29]

By 31 October, the ISIL attack against the T-2 Station was repelled and government forces were once again within 50 km (31 mi) of Abu Kamal.[14] The next day, six Russian Tu-22MZ long-range bombers that took off from air bases in Russia struck ISIL targets outside Abu Kamal.[30] On 3 November, Iraqi security forces captured the Iraqi town of Al-Qa'im, on the opposite side of the border from Abu Kamal.[31] Late that day, Iraqi paramilitary forces crossed the border from Al-Qa'im and attacked ISIL positions in the Hiri area on the outskirts of Abu Kamal,[23] but were repelled back across the border by the following day.[3] At the same time as the Iraqi cross-border attack, Russia reportedly conducted a massive air-strike on ISIL targets in a residential area of Abu Kamal.[32] On 5 November, government forces pushed within 15 km (9.3 mi) of Abu Kamal,[33] reaching the Iraqi border.[1][34]

First attack on the city[edit]

After the Syrian Army met up with Iraqi militias on the border on 8 November,[35][36] the Syrian military and its allies launched an assault on Abu Kamal,[4] quickly encircling and entering the city.[24] During the fighting, Hezbollah, which had hundreds of fighters take part in the battle, crossed into Iraq from where it then assaulted Abu Kamal along with the Iraqi PMF militias.[4][36] The Syrian Army was also reported to have entered Iraq and then attacked Abu Kamal from Al-Qa'im. The entrance of both the Syrian Army and its allies into Iraq was reportedly with the permission of the Iraqi military.[37] That evening, pro-government sources reported Abu Kamal had been captured,[4] while the pro-opposition SOHR denied this[38] and stated only parts of the town had been seized.[39] The next day, SOHR confirmed the capture of Abu Kamal after ISIL forces withdrew from the city through a northern escape route they managed to maintain.[40] Syrian Army High Command also officially declared the capture of Abu Kamal[41] and issued a statement saying: ″The liberation of the city is of great importance since it represents an announcement of the fall of ISIS terrorist organization project in the region, in general, and a collapse of the illusions of its sponsors and supporters to divide it.″[42] The military subsequently started combing the city[43] as part of demining operations.[44] Meanwhile, pro-government forces continued their operations in the area and reportedly captured the Hamdan Military Airbase, north of Abu Kamal.[45]

Late on 9 November, an ISIL counterattack recaptured 40 percent of Abu Kamal, including several neighborhoods in the northern, northeastern and northwestern part of the town.[46] The next day, the fighting came close to the city center.[47] Meanwhile, Hezbollah reported the leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was in Abu Kamal during the assault on the town.[8] On 11 November, heavy airstrikes were being conducted against ISIL, in an effort by Syrian government forces to maintain their presence in the southern part of the city, and also to push ISIL fighters out of Abu Kamal.[48] At this point it became apparent that the earlier ISIL retreat from Abu Kamal was conducted so to lure government troops into a trap[49] which involved surprise attacks by militants hiding inside tunnels in the city center. The counter-assault involved suicide bombers and rocket attacks. The military and its allied militias suffered heavy casualties[50] and by the end of the day ISIL managed to fully recapture the city, forcing pro-government forces to withdraw to one to two kilometers from the city.[51] Meanwhile, the PMF was reported to had seized the nearby border crossing with Iraq.[52]

Second attack on the city[edit]

On 12 November, Syrian government forces launched an assault towards Abu Kamal from Mayadin, quickly advancing through the desert and reaching positions 25–35 km (16–22 mi) west of the city.[53] On 17 November, Syrian Army forces stormed the city again,[54] capturing it by 19 November.[6]

Fighting in the surrounding countryside continued until 6 December. During the fighting between 15 November and 3 December 447 fighters on both sides were killed.[16] During this time, government forces advanced along the western bank of the Euphrates,[55] so to besiege a pocket of ISIL territory southeast of Mayadin.[56] The pocket was surrounded on 21 November,[57] and in the following days the Army slowly cleared it.[58][59] By 28 November, the pocket was eliminated[60] and the town of Al-Quriyah was captured.[61][62] The military then continued with its operations to link up forces advancing southeast of Mayadin with those at Abu Kamal.[63] By 5 December, they were 10 km (6.2 mi) from achieving this[64] and on 6 December the link-up came,[65] with the whole western bank of the Euphrates cleared[66][67] after IS forces retreated to the western countryside of Deir ez-Zor.[68] During the final push along the Euphrates, large numbers of ISIL suicide car bombers were sent against the advancing government forces, inflicting heavy casualties on the Army.[69][70]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "IRGC, Hezbollah plan to link Baghdad to Damascus through Albukamal crossing". Al-Masdar News. 6 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Breaking: Syrian Army, Hezbollah surround strategic base in west Deir Ezzor". Al-Masdar News. 25 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Clashes between Iraqi forces and IS along Syria border - 11/4/2017 8:00:46 AM - Newser". www.newser.com. Archived from the original on 9 November 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "Syrian army, allies, take last IS stronghold in Syria: commander". 8 November 2017 – via Reuters.
  5. ^ a b Mudiq, Qalaat Al. "E. #Syria: #Aleppo-based Al-Quds Brigade also involved in #AbuKemal battle, releasing list of 5 killed and 7 wounded. Group recently recruited fighters from #DeirEzzor prov.pic.twitter.com/WfbdO4bzPl". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Syria army, allies retake Albu Kamal from IS: military source". Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Leaked pictures: Iranian Major General arrives in southern Deir Ezzor to help defeat ISIS". Al-Masdar News. 5 November 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Hezbollah media unit: Islamic State leader reported in Syrian town". 10 November 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2017 – via Reuters.
  9. ^ a b c "Syrian Army attempts to retake Albukamal after losing city to ISIS". Al Masdar. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Der Syrische Bürgerkrieg - Update 06 12 2017" [The Syrian Civil War - Update 06 12 2017]. Truppendienst.com (Austrian Armed Forces) (in German). 7 December 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Iraqi forces launch battle against Islamic State footholds in vast Anbar province". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ Josie Ensor and Ben Farmer (3 November 2017). "Isil facing endgame after fall of last city in its caliphate". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  13. ^ Loaa Adel (4 November 2017). "Al-Bukamal gathers largest number of IS members in Syria". Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  14. ^ a b c "After absorbing the counter attack of ISIS in (T 2) area…the regime forces advance towards Al-Bokamal and become at 50 km away from it".
  15. ^ "Continuous violent clashes west of Euphrates River and southwest of Bokamal by the regime forces supported by their loyal gunmen and with cover by the intense bombardment".
  16. ^ a b c ISIS fights fiercely to defend its last area remaining on the banks of the Euphrates River against the attacks of the SDF and the regime forces and their allied
  17. ^ Ivan Sidorenko
  18. ^ "With the continuation of military operations east of Euphrates River, the media of the regime, Russia and their loyal media spread false news about controlling the entire both banks of Euphrates". 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  19. ^ "48 hours of Al-Bokamal Battle kill 70 members of the regime forces and Syrian, Lebanese and Arab fighters loyal to them and members of ISIS".
  20. ^ "Syrian army captures Islamic State position, eyes final stronghold". 26 October 2017 – via Reuters.
  21. ^ في الطريق إلى البوكمال..القوات الموالية للنظام تسيطر على المحطة الثانية ((التي تو)) الاستراتيجية
  22. ^ "Battle of reaching al-Bokamal continues and the regime forces with the support of Syrian, Arab and Asian gunmen become 45 km (28 mi) away from the largest remaining strongholds of the organization".
  23. ^ a b AFP (5 November 2017). "Anti-IS forces converge on Syria border town".
  24. ^ a b "Syrian Troops Break Into Last ISIS-Held Town Albu Kamal".
  25. ^ "The regime forces escalate their attack and intensify their shelling and advance to become at 40 kilometers away from Al-Bokamal city and ISIS fights desperately to repel the attack".
  26. ^ "Islamic State shores up last stronghold on Syria-Iraq border". 27 October 2017 – via Reuters.
  27. ^ "After it forced the regime forces to retreat in the T2 area, ISIS re-storms al-Quriyah town and recovers parts of it".
  28. ^ "ISIS resists the regime forces fiercely from Al-Mayadin to T 2 and keeps them about 65 kilometers away from Al-Bokamal".
  29. ^ "Syrian army, allies step up attacks on last militant bastion in Deir al-Zor city". 29 October 2017 – via Reuters.
  30. ^ News, ABC. "The Latest: Russian long-range bombers strike IS in Syria".
  31. ^ "ISIL loses al-Qaim in Iraq and Deir Az Zor in Syria". www.aljazeera.com.
  32. ^ "Russian airstrike hits IS targets in Albukamal - video". Al-Masdar News. 3 November 2017.
  33. ^ "The regime forces reach to the nearest area to Al-Bukamal city, ISIS largest bastion in Syrian and violent fighting to reach to the border city".
  34. ^ "Syrian War Daily – 5th of November 2017"
  35. ^ "scenes of Iraqi forces, Syrian Army meeting at border". Al-Masdar News.
  36. ^ a b News, ABC. "Syrian troops encircle last Islamic State-held town".
  37. ^ "Iraqi military allowed Syrian Army, allies to attack Albukamal from Iraq". Al-Masdar News.
  38. ^ "The news about controlling al-Bokamal city by the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces or the regime forces regime is false".
  39. ^ "Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces and the fighters loyal to the regime storm Bokamal city and violent clashes in the city with controlling parts of the largest stronghold of organization in Syria".
  40. ^ "Subscribe - theaustralian". www.theaustralian.com.au.
  41. ^ "Syrian Army High Command officially announces Albukamal liberated from ISIS – video". Al-Masdar News.
  42. ^ Al-Boukamal city declared fully liberated SANA, 9 October 2017.
  43. ^ "ISIS chased out of last stronghold in Syria".
  44. ^ "The "Islamic State" organization withdraws from Al-Bokamal city- its largest stronghold in Syria- and retreats to the areas remaining under its control in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor".
  45. ^ "Breaking: Syrian Army liberates Hamdan Airbase north of Albukamal". Al-Masdar News.
  46. ^ "IS jihadists retake nearly half of Syria border town: monitor". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  47. ^ "Report: ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may be in Syrian city of Boukamal". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  48. ^ "Al-Bokamal Battle rages and the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Revolutionary Iranian Guards and the Lebanese Hezbollah fight desperately to achieve advancement inside the city". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  49. ^ "The "Islamic State" organization inflicts a great defeat on the gunmen loyal to the regime forces and almost completely restores Al-Bokamal city". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  50. ^ "Iranian-backed militias routed in last Syrian militant stronghold". 13 November 2017. Retrieved 19 November 2017 – via Reuters.
  51. ^ "IS recaptures last Syrian urban bastion in fierce fightback". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  52. ^ "Iraqi forces take over Albukamal border-crossing". Al-Masdar News. 11 November 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  53. ^ "After the failure of the PMF to advance to Al-Bukamal, the regime forces advance to 35 km away from the city, led by Suhail Al-Hassan". Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  54. ^ "SYRIAN WAR REPORT – NOVEMBER 17, 2017: GOVERNMENT FORCES STORM AL-BUKAMAL AGAIN". South Front. 17 November 2017. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  55. ^ After holding their control over Al-Bokamal city…the regime forces and their allied start the last stage of ending the presence of ISIS in the west of the Euphrates River
  56. ^ Syrian Regime Seizes Kashme … And Reach Abu Hamam Outskirts Eastern Deir Ezzor
  57. ^ The regime forces and allied forces achieve a significant advancement on the banks of the Euphrates River and reduce the control of the "Islamic State" organization east of Deir Ezzor
  58. ^ Syrian Army keeps rolling in Deir Ezzor, liberates two towns from ISIS, Al-Masdar News
  59. ^ ISIS faces imminent defeat as their Deir Ezzor pocket shrinks – map, Al-Masdar News
  60. ^ Syrian Army eliminates another IS pocket in southeast Deir Ezzor – map, Al-Masdar News
  61. ^ Breaking: Syrian Army liberates another town along the Euphrates River, Al-Masdar News
  62. ^ More casualties raise to about 400, the number of people who were killed by the regime forces and their allies and ISIS members within 13 consecutive days of intense fighting
  63. ^ Syrian Army is on the brink of splitting last IS bastion in Deir Ezzor – map, Al-Masdar News
  64. ^ Breaking: Syrian Army on the cusp of final victory over ISIS in eastern Syria, Al-Masdar News
  65. ^ Damascus to Baghdad: Syrian Army liberates entire western bank of the Euphrates River, Al-Masdar News
  66. ^ Syria army clears last IS pockets west of Euphrates: monitor, Daily Mail
  67. ^ With the continuation of military operations east of Euphrates River, the media of the regime, Russia and their loyal media spread false news about controlling the entire both banks of Euphrates, SNHR
  68. ^ Complete battle update from southeast Deir Ezzor, Al-Masdar News
  69. ^ "Packs" of ISIS car bombs shatter Syrian Army ranks during final stage of Deir Ezzor offensive
  70. ^ Tens of casualties in the ranks of the regime forces and their allies and the organization in the attacks of the later in Homs and Deir Ezzor countryside to exhaust a confuse its opponents