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ISIS gains ground on Assad regime, reconquers Palmyra

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Phantast2k

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Islamic State retakes historic city of Palmyra | World news | The Guardian

Islamic State fighters appear to have reconquered the historic city of Palmyra after days of intense fighting on its outskirts prompted a withdrawal by the Syrian military.

“The catastrophe has happened, I am in absolute shock,” said Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s director of antiquities, in a phone interview. “I am losing hope, it looks like we have lost the city.”

An Isis-affiliated news channel claimed victory in the battle on Sunday, saying its soldiers had reclaimed control of the entirety of Palmyra, once a Silk Road oasis that boasted some of the best-preserved ruins of antiquity.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, confirmed the takeover.

It was the second time Isis has seized Palmyra. In May last year, jihadi militants stormed the city after a week-long siege that ended with the mass retreat of the Syrian military. Militants rampaged through the city’s museums and ruins, blowing up the 2,000-year-old towering Temple of Bel and the Arch of Victory, along with other priceless artefacts, and killed Khaled al-Asaad, Palmyra’s long-serving leading archaeologist.

The group also carried out mass executions in the historic amphitheatre.

The Syrian army, backed by Russian fighter jets, reclaimed the city in March this year in a well-publicised campaign. Moscow organised a musical concert at the amphitheatre shortly afterwards.

The loss of the city will come as a shock, particularly with Isis in retreat throughout Syria and Iraq with the killing of its top lieutenants and facing increasing pressure in its two largest cities, Mosul and Raqqa.

(...)

The loss of Palmyra a second time raises questions about the ability of the Syrian military, worn down after years of fighting, to hold territory even with the backing of its Russian allies. The battles on the outskirts of Palmyra have been ongoing for four days and Islamic State’s takeover was preceded by a night of intense bombardment by Russian warplanes, which carried out more than 60 airstrikes.

It will also come as a shock to observers as Isis is in retreat on multiple fronts. Drone strikes have claimed the lives of most of the group’s leading officials, including its spokesman, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani. Iraqi troops are inching their way through the eastern half of Mosul, the most populous city under the self-proclaimed caliphate’s control, and Kurdish paramilitaries as well as Turkish-backed rebels have been steadily gaining ground against the militants in northern Syria.

The latest conquest also shows Isis still has the ability to rally sufficient troops to its cause to conquer territory.

Like the article claims, Russia had used their success in Palmyra for a PR stunt with the concert in the ruins. That same month, Putin had his mission accomplished moment.
This was their (Assad's) only major move against ISIS.

After some months it became obvious that ISIS would take it back if Russia were to continue to commit their forces to backing Assad's reconquest against the rebels (posted on 07-16-2016):

CHEEZMO™;210080637 said:
It's especially ridiculous as the one place ISIS has been extremely resilient (and even resurgent) has been in central Syria, which is the only place Russian ground and helicopter forces are engaging them directly. The operation to recapture took time to happen and required a broad coalition of all sorts of pro-Assad militias, foreign Shia jihadists, the IRGC and Basij, and heavy Russian artillery, armour, air, and even actual ground combat ops by SOF and reggular ground troops to pull off. Even then ISIS didn't put up too stubborn of a defence and withdrew after some heavy fighting. Of course certain sectors then trumpeted from the rooftops how this was the greatest victory ever scored against the group. You'd think it was Day 0 in the fight against ISIS.

Also lol the RuAF has overwhelmingly bombed areas in Syria that are held by Opposition groups and killed thousands of civilians in the process, along with displacing tens of thousands more and destroying huge amounts of civilian and medical infrastructure.


In retrospect it seems like it was of a lesser importance to ISIS, strategically. Seems like Putin pushed for Palmyra for a PR effect (that dumb ass concert of his), but now it appears they don't really commit to it.

It's telling that ISIS is still capable of engaging Palmyra with VBIEDs:
The moment a terrorists car bomb hit Syrian Army gathering near Palmyra - YouTube
(NSFW aftermath)

They even shot down a Russian / Syrian chopper recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0sXaBlCIiM
Russia confirms helicopter shot down in Syria | IHS Jane's 360

And the supply line to Palmyra also seems very vulnerable:
Isis 'destroys' Syrian airbase and four Russian helicopters | Middle East | News | The Independent



/It also seems like they're stretching themselves thin. Rather than committing to ISIS, they gotta prop Assad & continue to bomb rebel held cities.

Meanwhile Western supported SDF (mostly Kurds) and Turkey / Turkish supported FSA almost completely pushed ISIS out of Rojava (Northern Syria). Iraq is also gaining ground on ISIS under heavy US support. Here's an interactive map of ISIS' loss of territory:
Islamic State and the crisis in Iraq and Syria in maps - BBC News

This begs the (rhetorical) question: Does Russia give a fuck about ISIS? Well, apparently not as much as leveling Aleppo for Assad - not even close...

Western Politicians who say things "Let's work with Russia to fight ISIS", like Trump or Fillon, are either uninformed about Russian intentions in Syria simply dishonest (/promoting Russian agenda).
 

Frozenprince

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Because Russia isn't fighting ISIS, they are fighting the rebels holding Aleppo and Damascus. They've said themselves they aren't worried about ISIS, but about keeping Assad propped up.
 

Linkyn

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Good thing the Syrian military is focusing on bombing civilians out of Aleppo instead of pushing towards Raqqa.
 

Phantast2k

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How recent is this news? I heard Russian strikes drove them out.

About 6h? Amaq is already posting pics & vids from there. Seems like they also snatched tons of heavy weaponry:

@JACM212
For fucks sake. IS claiming 30 tanks, 6bmp, 6 122mm guns 7 23mm mounted technicals and a bunch of ATGMs ammo small arms captured in #Palmyra
(scroll up in the thread for videos / pics).

Because Russia isn't fighting ISIS, they are fighting the rebels holding Aleppo and Damascus. They've said themselves they aren't worried about ISIS, but about keeping Assad propped up.

This would be correct. Yet, swaths of Western politicians claim otherwise.
 

Phantast2k

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I'm assuming those helicopter shots are renders because they make zero sense given the closeness, moving velocity and crash points?!

Edit: They definitely are, not sure why I even asked.

No, this was an unrelated incident to the shot down RU helicopters. Russian analysts tracked down RU media shots of those copters on the ground, prior to the incident: Russian helicopters indeed were at the damaged Syrian airbase — Conflict Intelligence Team
Though they lean towards an accident which set the copters ablaze.

All in all they must've lost 6 so far in & around Palmyra: 4 November 2016: Russian helicopter hit in Syria, crew unhurt - Al Arabiya English
 

TAJ

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I'm assuming those helicopter shots are renders because they make zero sense given the closeness, moving velocity and crash points?!

Edit: They definitely are, not sure why I even asked.

They're parked on an airfield, lol.
 

GSG Flash

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But I thought ISIS was working with Assad?

This doesn't seem to support that narrative...

On the other hand, this actually helps the rebels in Aleppo.
 
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Because Russia isn't fighting ISIS, they are fighting the rebels holding Aleppo and Damascus. They've said themselves they aren't worried about ISIS, but about keeping Assad propped up.

So when they took the city a few months ago they were fighting ghosts right?
And it's shameful and says a lot that there seems to be an almost gleeful response in the west (both media and people) to ISIS retaking the city, guess Russia now being the bigger enemy means others if not cheered on can certainly not be condemned.
 
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I am shocked, their ISIS lines are neglected while they attack the rebels. I've been saying it, but once the non-ISIS rebels are defeated Putin will declare victory and Assad is going to strike a non-agression deal and concede parts of Syria to ISIS so he doesn't have to attempt to rebuild.
 

Shadynasty

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I am shocked, their ISIS lines are neglected while they attack the rebels. I've been saying it, but once the non-ISIS rebels are defeated Putin will declare victory and Assad is going to strike a non-agression deal and concede parts of Syria to ISIS so he doesn't have to attempt to rebuild.

What do you base this on? Assad has nothing to gain by doing something like that. Not to mention giving ISIS international legitimacy in their own eyes. The whole premise is insane.
 

Blader

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But I thought ISIS was working with Assad?

This doesn't seem to support that narrative...

On the other hand, this actually helps the rebels in Aleppo.
The "narrative" is that Assad helped stoke the creation of ISIS, which I think is well-established, not that Assad and ISIS are in some kind of active alliance today.
 
Dec 6, 2008
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What do you base this on? Assad has nothing to gain by doing something like that. Not to mention giving ISIS international legitimacy in their own eyes. The whole premise is insane.

Every other extremist group under a dictator in the middle east? Hezbollah for example. When Putin withdraws Russian forces, who is going to rebuild Syria? Assad and what money or political will? It would make more sense for him to let ISIS rule an area and claim total victory.
 
Dec 9, 2013
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Every other extremist group under a dictator in the middle east? Hezbollah for example. When Putin withdraws Russian forces, who is going to rebuild Syria? Assad and what money or political will? It would make more sense for him to let ISIS rule an area and claim total victory.
Over the oil fields? And with a wing of ISIS now in the Caucasus. Lol, Russia will not let Assad do that.
 

Frustrated_me

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I am shocked, their ISIS lines are neglected while they attack the rebels. I've been saying it, but once the non-ISIS rebels are defeated Putin will declare victory and Assad is going to strike a non-agression deal and concede parts of Syria to ISIS so he doesn't have to attempt to rebuild.
Rubbish.

What good is ISIS to Assad or Russia? Once the moderate rebels have been dealt with Putin/Assad will wait and see a victory in both Mosul and Raqqa. Then once ISIS is just another insurgency group, without any control of land, Assad will most likely go for the Kurds - YPG, SDF and so on.
 

unrealist

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I might be ignorant .. but does ISIS really has an army that is capable of conquering cities? Even the armies of countries like Syria find it tough to hold them off?
 

Shadynasty

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Every other extremist group under a dictator in the middle east? Hezbollah for example. When Putin withdraws Russian forces, who is going to rebuild Syria? Assad and what money or political will? It would make more sense for him to let ISIS rule an area and claim total victory.

I'm pretty sure ISIS isn't going to make a truce Assad. Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy and shiite. ISIS only mission is to create a Sunni caliphate and they can't have that without Assad and Hezbollah gone.
 

Seth Enosh

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I might be ignorant .. but does ISIS really has an army that is capable of conquering cities? Even the armies of countries like Syria find it tough to hold them off?
Syrian army is stretched very thin right now. All their best troops are in Damascus and Aleppo. The army has been ground down by 4 years of civil war.

Palmyra doesn't actually have much strategic importance in comparison. With the offense in Aleppo about to defeat the rebels there, I think the Syrian Army was not able to send reinforcements to Palmyra. The Russians did some bombing in the last few days but the troops on the ground were weak militia (NDF) who are notorious for fleeing battle.

ISIS was able to overrun the Iraqi army too in the past. Even now they are fighting a massive battle to hold onto Mosul in Iraq. They absolutely have an army that can capture cities.

This is disappointing news, ISIS might blow up what's left of the historic ruins now, plus another group of civilians just came under their oppressive rule again. It might take months for the Syrians to regroup and counterattack.
 

Ri'Orius

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I've made some vague attempts at following what's going on with this conflict, but I've never succeeded. Does anyone know of some good resources that start from "I know nothing about what's going on"? Ideally with maps colored over time, etc.?
 

Sijil

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The troops that managed to liberate Palmyra were redirected to Aleppo, while leaving Palmyra in the hands of inexperienced local NDF. Now that Aleppo is done I suspect the government will reallocate resource to recapture Palmyra, even tho it is strategically worthless, especially compared to other areas such as Idlib. But I guess symbolism plays its part.
 

PdotMichael

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If the rebels are done there is nothing to gain for the USA anymore.

So all the ignored red lines by Obama will result in an increase of Assad and Putin's influence in the region.
 
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