Deir ez-Zor offensive (January–February 2017)

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Deir ez-Zor offensive (January–February 2017)
Part of the Syrian Civil War, Siege of Deir ez-Zor (2014-17) and the
Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War
Deir ez-Zor clashes (january 2017).svg
The situation in Deir ez-Zor, as of 19 January 2017      Syrian Government control     control Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Date14 January – 14 February 2017
(1 month)
Location
Result

ISIL victory

Belligerents
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Syrian Arab Republic
 Russia
Commanders and leaders
Unknown Deir ez-Zor ISIL emir  [3] Syria Issam Zahreddine[4]
Syria Mohammad Khaddour[5]
Units involved

Military of ISIL

Syrian Armed Forces

Russian Armed Forces

Strength
14,000[6] (pro-government claim) 4,000 Syrian soldiers[7][8]
Casualties and losses
241 killed (per SOHR)[9]
500 killed (per SAA)[10]
127 killed (per SOHR)[9]
Hundreds of civilians killed (per SOHR)[9]

The Deir ez-Zor offensive (January–February 2017) was a military operation launched by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against the Syrian Armed Forces, to capture the city of Deir ez-Zor, on 14 January 2017. The offensive came amid the group losing large amounts of territory in the Raqqa offensive as well as the Turkish military intervention in Syria,[11] while Iraqi forces were advancing in its Iraq headquarters in Mosul.[12] It ended with the city being split into two parts.

Background[edit]

Deir ez-Zor is the capital of Deir ez-Zor Governorate and lies in an oil-rich region.[4] The city has been besieged by ISIL since 2015[13] with an estimated 100,000 civilians in the government controlled areas[14] and an additional 50,000 civilians in the ISIL controlled areas.[13] Sources disagree one the exact date when the siege was imposed on the city with some sources claiming ISIL severed all land routes to the city by January 2015[15] while others state that the city became fully besieged in May 2015 following the first fall of Palmyra.[16]

The offensive[edit]

ISIL began the offensive on 14 January 2017, launching its heaviest assault yet on Syrian Arab Army-held areas of the city. At least 12 soldiers and two civilians were killed in the attack, while 20 ISIL fighters were killed in air strikes according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The aim of the attack was to cut the road between Deir ez-Zor Airport and the city. SAA however launched a counter-attack and repelled ISIL's attack.[17] The group advanced around the city's cemetery and in points around the airbase during the day.[18]

ISIL continued its offensive on the next day and launched car bombs on checkpoints controlled by pro-government forces. They then shelled Tallat al-Brouk district and the town of Bagheliya, reportedly capturing both after pro-government forces evacuated. At the same time, they also stormed and captured Sakan al-Jahiziya neighborhood on the highway between the city and Damascus.[19] ISIL also advanced along the Jam’eyyat al-Rowwad[18] and captured a strategic mountain overlooking the city.[20] SOHR meanwhile stated ISIL had captured Assad Hospital,[21] but according to local sources, the army recaptured the Assad Hospital[22] and Al-Masdar News cited local sources stating that ISIL never captured it.[23] The Syrian Army backed by the Syrian Arab Air Force later launched a counter-attack in the following night and managed to repel ISIL away from its frontlines.[24] More than 80 people including 28 pro-government fighters, at least 40 ISIL fighters and 14 civilians were reported killed according to SOHR by the end of the second day.[25]

ISIL launched another attack on 16 January and succeeded in cutting the road linking the airbase to the city,[1] leaving the government enclave split in two.[2] The group also captured the al-Jaryah residential project.[26] Heavy clashes were also reported around the provincial cemetery and a road junction known locally as the Panorama Roundabout,[27] and later this day, ISIL reportedly captured the cemetery.[28] The clashes forced the United Nations to suspend food airdrops to the city.[29]

The Syrian Army and its allies, backed by the Russian Air Force and Syrian Arab Air Force, launched a counter-attack and clashed against ISIL on 17 January.[30][31] On the night of 17 January, the Syrian Air Force managed to transport around 200 reinforcement to the besieged city via helicopters.[32][33]

On January 18, clashes were reported to take place to the northwest of Deir ez-Zor, near Tal Barouk and the university housing area. Meanwhile, the Syrian and Russian airforces were reported to bomb the cemetery area and Mount Tharda.[34] ISIL captured the power plant to the west of the airbase during the day.[35] The group set tires and barrels of crude oil on fire to create a smokescreen in order to prevent airstrikes on their positions. It also executed 10 soldiers it had captured.[36]

ISIL clashed with the Army in al-Rasafa, al-Ommal, al-Mowazzafin, al-Jabilah and Rashdiyyah districts as well in the area around the airbase and the Panorama Roundabout on 19 January. It advanced in al-Mowazzafin, al-Ommal and Rasafa as well as around the airbase.[37]

ISIL carried out a large night-time attack on 20 January, targeting the airport.[38] The next day, the Russian Air Force began using strategic bombers in order to support Syrian forces in the city.[39][40] This enabled the Army to capture several points in the cemetery and Panorama Roundabout in a counter-attack.[41]

An ISIL assault in the Panorama area, south of the city, was repelled by the Army on 22 January.[42] A counter-attack was later launched by them and their allies, helping them to advance around the cemetery and the surrounding hills,[43] including capturing the strategic cemetery hill.[44] Heavy clashes took place in the cemetery area and around the Panorama area with warplanes carrying out many raids around the city on 23 January.[45] On the next day, ISIL reportedly advanced in the vicinity of Brigade 137.[46]

On the night of 23/24 January, around 500 Syrian soldiers were successfully transported to the besieged city in a joint Syrian-Russian aerial operation which involved 22 transport helicopters as well as additional support aircraft.[47]

During 26 January, the Al-Qassem Group together with 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard continued clashing with ISIL over the cemetery, at the end of the day controlling two-thirds of the area.[48]

Aftermath[edit]

On 18 February, an ISIL attack on the Panorama checkpoint was repelled.[49] Three days later, the 104th Brigade of the Republican Guard captured Alloush hill, coming within 1,500 meters of lifting the siege on the Airport.[50]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Josie Ensor (16 January 2017). "Islamic State launches major offensive to take Syrian city". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b Raydan, Noam; Alakraa, Nour (17 January 2017). "Islamic State Gains in Remote Syria Outpost" – via Wall Street Journal.
  3. ^ About 100 airstrikes target Deir Ezzor and 10 days of battles and shelling kill more than 340 of the regime and the “Islamic State” organization
  4. ^ a b "Battlefront Syria: Deir ez-Zor". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  5. ^ "High-ranking Syrian general arrives in Deir Ezzor".
  6. ^ Antonopoulos, Paul (16 January 2017). "ISIS successfully splits Deir Ezzor enclave in two".
  7. ^ Fadel, Leith. Syrian Army, Hezbollah plan to liberate Deir Ezzor after Palmyra. Al-Masdar News. 12 March 2016.
  8. ^ Mulhem, Suliman (1 February 2017). "Elite SAA units deploy to Jobar from Wadi Barada". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  9. ^ a b c أكثر من 470 مدني وعنصر استشهدوا وقتلوا خلال أول شهر من الهجوم الأعنف على دير الزور وقوات النظام تفشل في التقدم وفك الحصارين عنها
  10. ^ Antonopoulos, Paul (22 January 2017). "500 ISIS terrorists killed in Deir Ezzor by Syrian Army: Reports". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  11. ^ "IS gain ground in oil-rich Syria province". Middle East online. 14 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Islamic State surrounds military airport in Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria". The Guardian. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  13. ^ a b "The Stronghold of Deir Ezzor: All What You Need To Know About The Battle Against ISIS In Eastern Syria". 17 January 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Syrian Arab Republic: Deir-ez-Zor Flash Update No. 2, 28 January 2017 [EN/AR]". 28 January 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Two years of siege in Deir Ezzor - en.deirezzor24.net". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  16. ^ "The Stronghold of Deir Ezzor: All What You Need To Know About The Battle Against ISIS In Eastern Syria". 1 December 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  17. ^ "Islamic State assault on east Syria city of Deir Ezzor leaves 30 dead". Middle East Eye. 14 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  18. ^ a b The “Islamic State” advances in new areas at Deir Ezzor and the intense raids on the city and its vicinity continue
  19. ^ "ISIS captures new areas in Deir ez-Zor amidst Syrian Army retreat". ARA News. 14 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  20. ^ The “Islamic State” organization controls a mountain overlooks Deir Ezzor city and gets closer to cutting its airbase’s supply
  21. ^ "رغم عشرات الضربات الجوية والصاروخية.. تنظيم "الدولة الإسلامية" يسيطر على مشفى الأسد جنوب المدينة خلال اليوم الثاني من هجومه على دير الزور، و4 شهداء جلهم مواطنات في قصف طائرات حربية على بلدة موحسن" (in Arabic).
  22. ^ "Joshua Landis on Twitter".
  23. ^ "Deir Ezzor battle reaches tipping point as ISIS attempts to capture airport". Al-Masdar News.
  24. ^ "Daesh attacks the Syrian regime-held city of Deir Ezzor". TRTWorld.
  25. ^ "Syria war: Islamic State advances in Deir Ezzor, scores dead". Middle East Eye.
  26. ^ With the siege’s 3rd year… the “Islamic State” organization cuts the supply roads between Deir Ezzor and its airbase, divides neighborhoods to eastern and western
  27. ^ "Islamic State stage fierce attack on Syrian army enclave". Reuters. Cyprus Mail.
  28. ^ "Russian jets nonstop bombing ISIS in Deir Ezzor City". al-Masdar.
  29. ^ "Fighting Forces UN to Suspend Food Airdrops to Besieged Syrian City". Voice of America.
  30. ^ "ISIS fights to capture new base in Syria". The Australian.
  31. ^ "Embattled Syria troops clash with IS in Deir Ezzor". Gulf Times.
  32. ^ "200 Syrian Troops Arrive Deir Ezzor By Helicopters". 18 January 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  33. ^ Antonopoulos, Paul (18 January 2017). "Syrian helicopters land in Deir Ezzor for first time since ISIS offensive". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  34. ^ "Syrian Army foils ISIS attack on key Deir Ezzor areas". al-Masdar.
  35. ^ The “Islamic State” organization enhances its control and locations in the vicinity of Deir Ezzor airbase with a new advancement in the area
  36. ^ "East Syrian city in the grip of fierce fighting". Agence France-Presse, Reuters. Arab News.
  37. ^ The “Islamic State” organization continues forcing the regime forces to retreat and achieves advancements in Deir Ezzor city despite the Syrian and Russian raids and intensive bombing
  38. ^ Fadel, Leith (21 January 2017). "ISIS launches powerful night assault to seize Deir Ezzor Airport". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  39. ^ "Russian Strategic Bombers Strike ISIS For 3rd Time In Deir Ezzor". 24 January 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  40. ^ "Russian long-range bombers target ISIS positions in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  41. ^ "Syrian Army turns the tables on ISIS in Deir Ezzor". Al-Masdar News.
  42. ^ "قوات النظام تصد محاولة تقدم لتنظيم "الدولة الإسلامية" في دير الزور وارتفاع عدد قتلى الطرفين إلى أكثر من 230 في غضون 8 أيام" (in Arabic).
  43. ^ "Updates from the Front Lines: Dier Ezzor, January 22nd". Lima Charlie.
  44. ^ "Scores of terrorists killed as Syrian Army takes the fight to ISIS in Deir Ezzr". Al-Masdar News.
  45. ^ Violent clash associated with the escalation of airstrikes raise death toll to more than 300 in 9 days of the most violent attack on Deir Ezzor in a year
  46. ^ Continued bombardment raises to 66 at least, the number of civilian casualties in Deir Ezzor and its countryside within 10 days of the most violent military operations since a year
  47. ^ "More Details On The Effort To Insert Syrian Airborne Troops Into Deir ez-Zor". 30 January 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  48. ^ Fadel, Leith (2017-01-26). "Syrian Army makes new push to lift siege on Deir Ezzor Airport". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  49. ^ Antonopoulos, Paul (2017-02-18). "Syrian Army foils ISIS attack in Deir Ezzor, airforces target their positions". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  50. ^ Tomson, Chris (2017-02-21). "Syrian Army on the verge of breaking ISIS siege on Deir Ezzor Airbase - Map update". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. Retrieved 2017-02-22.

Coordinates: 35°20′00″N 40°09′00″E / 35.3333°N 40.1500°E / 35.3333; 40.1500