south front

Dangerous Circles On Donbass Front Line
South Front, Feb 3 2023

On the fronts of Donbass, the encirclement of Ukrainian garrisons in Bakhmut and Ugledar continues. In its turn, the Ukrainian command traditionally does not rescue the soldiers remaining in the cities, but sends reinforcements to the regions, trying to slow down the advance of Russian forces to the west. On Feb 3, DPR officials confirmed that the Russian artillery was in full fire control of the roads to Bakhmut. Russian troops are close to taking the city into an operational encirclement. Russian troops continue to push through the Ukrainian defensive lines near Krasnoye and Stupochki, located on the south-western outskirts of the city. Their further advance will allow to establish full control over the road to Chasov Yar and threaten the entire Ukrainian garrison in Bakhmut with destruction.

Western media recognize the inevitability of the defeat of the Ukrainian military in the city. Senior US military officials say that Ukraine will most likely have to withdraw the military city in order to gain strength for the active phase of hostilities in the spring. Washington advises the Ukrainian forces to gain some time until they receive more western weapons. However, the command of the Ukrainian Army seems unwilling to save the lives of its fighters and continues to send reserves to the city, which risks being surrounded soon. The MSM are already assuring the public that the defeat in Bakhmut allegedly will have no strategic impact and the retreating Ukrainian units will build a new line of defense as close as possible. In fact, Bakhmut is an important transport hub for the supply of the Ukrainian group of troops in the Donbass. Loss of the city will entail the destruction of the strategic Ukrainian defense line along Seversk-Soledar-Bakhmut.

The Russians are already approaching Seversk from the south, east and north. On Feb 2, the press service of the Wagner PMC announced its control of the village of Nikolaevka. The day before, the village of Sacco and Vanzetti came under Russian control. After the Battle for Bakhmut, the city of Seversk will be surrounded by the liberated Russian forces. The Ukrainian command will be forced to retreat to a new line of defense, which lays along the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk-Konstantinovka line, located more than 30 km to the west. The situation on the Ugledar front also remains tense. Heavy positional battles and artillery duels continue. On Feb 3, DPR officials said the city of Ugledar was taken in a semicircle from the east and southeast. Judging by the directions of Russian advance in the Donbass, they are encircling the Ukrainian Army on a strategic level. Advancing from the north and from the south, the Russians are trying to take the whole Ukrainian grouping in the Donbass in a pincer grip and destroy it.

Attacks On Iran, Syria Ignite Tensions In The Middle East
South Front, Feb 2 2023

The US and Israel have been both blamed for a series of attacks that targeted Iran and Syria late in January, igniting tensions in the Middle East. Escalation began late on Jan 28 with a drone attack that targeted a military industrial complex in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. The Iranian Ministry of Defense said that the complex was attacked with “small drones,” but its air defenses successfully repelled the attack. One of the drones was downed by the complex’s air defense fire, while the other two were caught in its defensive traps and exploded. The ministry said that the attack did not cause any loss of life and only led to minor damage to the roof of a workshop. The complex, it added, continues its ordinary operations following the attack. Suicide quadcopter drones were used in the attack. The drones were reportedly launched from within Iran territory.

On Jan 29, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported that the US and “one other country” were behind the attack on the Isfahan military industrial complex. Citing American sources, the news channel said the attack, which took place late on Jan 28, targeted a depot of ballistic missiles. Al-Arabiya’s sources said that the attack was meant “to demonstrate to Iran and Russia” US readiness to combat the construction of plants “on production and export of weapons.” The sources were likely referring to an alleged Iranian plan to supply Russia with ballistic missiles for use in the military operation against the Kiev regime. US officials were quick to deny the reports of Al-Arabiya, which revealed credible information on American military activities in the past. Iranian news sources affiliated with the IRGC blamed Israel for the drone attack on the Isfahan complex. Some observers speculated that Israel was the “other country” Al-Arabiya referred to.

Tensions reached a new peak when three waves of strikes targeted the Syrian side of the al-Qa’im border crossing with Iraq between Jan 29 and 30. The strikes, which were unofficially blamed on Israel, targeted a convoy moving goods and humanitarian aid into Syria near the town of al-Bukamal, where Iranian-backed forces maintain a large presence. As usual, Hebrew and Arab news sources said that the convoy was moving Iranian weapons, with the final destination being Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition war monitor with questionable veracity and unclear funding, 11 people were killed in the strikes. The recent attacks on Iran and Syria could lead to a new military confrontation in the Middle East. The IRGC and its affiliates will likely attempt to respond by targeting the US, Israel or both, as they have done on many occasions in the last few years.

Iran Officially Blames Israel For Attack On Isfahan Military Industrial Complex
South Front, Feb 2 2023

Iran has officially blamed Israel for the Jan 28 drone attack that targeted a military industrial complex in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. On Feb 1, Tehran filed a complaint with the UNSC about the “terrorist attack” orchestrated by Tel Aviv, saying it reserves its “legitimate and inherent right” to retaliate. In the complaint letter, Iranian Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani said he wanted to draw the UN’s attention to “further instances of the Israeli regime’s acts of terrorism and sabotage as well as violations of international law against the Islamic Republic of Iran.” the letter reads:

An attempt was made to launch a terrorist attack against a workshop complex of the Iranian Defence Ministry in the city of Isfahan. Early investigations suggest that the Israeli regime was behind this attempted act of aggression.

The Iranian Ministry of Defense said that the complex was attacked with three “small drones.” One of the drones was downed by the complex’s air defense fire, while the other two were caught in its defensive traps and exploded. The attack caused minor damage to the complex’s roof. The letter calls on the UN to condemn “Israel’s warmongering statements and acts of terrorism.” It also says Iran reserves “its legitimate and inherent right to defend its national security and respond resolutely to any threats by the Israeli regime, wherever and whenever deemed necessary.” Some reports said that the complex is a production facility for Shahed-136 suicide drones, which were allegedly supplied to Russia for use in Ukraine operation. However, other reports alleged that the complex was hosting ballistic missiles, possibly also destined for Russia.

An initial report by the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV said that the attack was carried out by the US and “one other country” as a warning to Iran and Russia. Nevertheless, another report by the NYT said that the attack was carried out by Israel to protect its own security interests, and not to prevent the export of Iranian weapons to Russia. According to the newspaper, the attack was carried out by the Mossad. The Iranian letter to the UN is the first official accusation to Israel. Previously, unnamed Iranian officials told Al Jazeera that Tel Aviv was behind the failed attack. The officials warned that Tehran would seek revenge, saying:

Israel knows very well that it will receive a response, as happened in the past.

Any Iranian response could lead to a military confrontation with Israel, and possibly the US. Despite the risk, Tehran will likely strike back in order to maintain deterrence against Tel Aviv. The lack of response could encourage the Israeli and US intelligence to further expand their overt operations within Iran.

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