south front

Northern Syria’s Endless Back-And-Forth
South Front, Jun 17 2021

In northern Syria’s back and forth, it seems as if the triangle of Turkey – Kurdish Groups – Syrian Army are taking turns attacking each other. On Jun 15, two people were killed and four others were wounded in yet another blast in the Turkish-occupied Syrian area of Afrin in northern Aleppo. The blast was reportedly caused by a booby-trapped vehicle that blew up near Kafr Janneh junction to the northeast of Afrin’s city center. The bombing was the most recent in a series of attacks against Turkish forces in Afrin. Just several days earlier, a rocket attack killed 22 people and wounded more than 20 others, mostly civilians, also in Afrin. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, so far. The Kurdish groups are usually the ones blamed for these incidents. These attacks and the on-going escalation are putting every side on edge. In the Hasakah northern countryside, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters opened fire on a civilian gathering between the towns of Amouda and al-Dirbasyia near the Turkish borders. The areas under SDF control are subject to frequent protests from the local population, as they are against replenishing the group’s ranks. On the other hand, the Kurdish group is concerned over various attacks being organized in the settlements under its control. In addition to fighting against the Kurdish groups in northeastern Syria, the Turkish forces are also unofficially assisting the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ in Greater Idlib and fighting against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). On Jun 16, the SAA hammered a Turkish military post in the southern part of the Greater Idlib region. No casualties or material losses were reported as a result of the shelling, which was most likely a response to Turkey’s military support to Greater Idlib militants. In response to the shelling, the Turkish military pounded SAA positions in the town of Kafr Nabil in the southern countryside of Idlib. There were no losses. Later on Jun 16, Turkey-backed factions and Ankara’s forces renewed their shelling on Greater Idlib towns not under militant control. A number of rocket shells hit some villages in Khan al-Sobol, Babbila and Kafir Nabil in the region, causing material damage to properties, infrastructure and public facilities. A larger escalation has been expected for a while, as all sides in northern Syria invariably respond to all attacks by their adversaries. Turkey is likely preparing to renew operations in the region, while the US-backed SDF in one direction, and the SAA in another likely plan to impede those plans.

US forces held live-fire exercise with heavy artillery at key Syrian oil field
South Front, Jun 17 2021

One of several M777 towed howitzers which were deployed by the US Army in northeastern Syria in 2020.

On Jun 14, US forces held a live-fire exercise with heavy artillery at a base located within al-Omar oil fields in Syria’s northeastern region. Soldiers from the US Army 156th Infantry Regiment and 141st Field Artillery Regiment took part in the artillery exercise. According to the US Central Command, the troops trained on the M777 155 mm towed howitzer.

Last year, the US Army deployed a number of M777 howitzers in northeastern Syria to support its allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces. The howitzer has an effective firing range of up to 40 km and can fire GPS-guided munitions and white phosphorus shells. A similar exercise was held in al-Omar oil fields more than a year ago. The fields are the largest and richest in Syria. The US maintains a large base there. Earlier this year, the US-led coalition denied deploying more troops or establishing new bases in northeastern Syria. However, recent developments suggest otherwise. On Jun 17 alone, a convoy of 55 trucks carrying supplies and equipment for US troops entered the region.

The ongoing military buildup in northeastern Syria indicates that the US is not planning to leave the region anytime soon. Washington claims that its troops are present there to combat ISIS remnants and to “guard” the oil.

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