Translated by Sufyan Jan for Fort Russ
27th January, 2016
Damascus seeking to claim Latakia “As the first Liberated Governorate”
Russia is not in a hurry to reach a negotiated settlement in Syria.
Russian special forces reinforced by “Howitzer Artillery” and aerial support, collaborating with Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) alongside the National Defense Forces (NDF), participated in fierce battles in and around the cities, heights, and hills of Latakia. The importance of this area is not only down to protecting the Syrian Coastline in which Russian positions and Naval bases are located, Russia can use the Latakia Governorate to track the movements of NATO forces on the Turkish-Syrian border; in case an advance occurs these posts will be to warn the Russians.
Sources inside the joint operation command consisting of Syria, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, confirmed that “The Russian joint chiefs of staff made significant changes to military strategies, by transitioning the Syrian army and its allies from a defensive to an offensive strategy, to reclaim crucial positions, ten strategically important positions were identified, and these are; to the east, south, and north of Aleppo, also in the Latakia countryside, Dara’a, and Sheikh Miskeen, and on the outskirts of Damascus, Homs, and the Kuweiras Airport, new positions will also be taken that will come as a surprise to many, soon an announcement will be made to the effect that the main crossing point of Bab al-Hawa (Gate of Winds), that is used by Al-Nusra and their allies in the “Army of Conquest” will be liberated, along with Bedama the next target which is 8 Kilometers from Bab al-Hawa, the entire Bab al-Hawa will be under the control of the SAA after loses incurred by the insurgents in Rabi’ah and Kensba”.
The Source further explains that “The Russian forces are using Howitzer artillery, having proven to be more effective than aerial bombardment in killing the insurgents, thus allowing the SAA and Hezbollah to advance from city to city, and from town to town without facing strong resistance from the insurgents, it also helps that strategic blunders have been made by the insurgents, foremost is the decision from Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al-Sham to conduct a counter offensive in the town of Salma having lost it to SAA, the failure of the counter offensive cost them heavy losses in moral and men, instead they should’ve fortified their positions that they were in to prevent further advancements by the SAA, this caused a collapse across the entire front after further aerial and ground shelling, the few who survived fled to other areas”.
The source considers “The fall of Rabi’ah and other towns so quickly, is an indication that other fronts will also fall as fast since the highlands of Latakia are the most difficult in this war as one Russian General says, participating in the war effort on the ground, its difficulty is in the ability of the insurgents to dig holes, and trenches, and to use caves which are more readily available than in any other area”.
The source continues “the SAA and its allies are advancing in Khan Tuman southwest of Aleppo, and is waiting for further forces to arrive from the Latakia countryside to encircle the Ghab Plain in the Jisr ash-Shugur area, first priority lies in taking the highlands overseeing the Ghab plain and Hama’s northern countryside, to be in a better position to besiege other targeted areas. It is expected that not only Jisr ash-Shugur but also the Ghab plain fronts to collapse since Al-Nusra are lacking in man power to continue fighting, Al-Nusra alluded to the possibility that it will adopt guerrilla warfare tactics especially after the disintegration of the “ Army of Conquest”, since Al Qaida and Ahrar Al-Sham cannot build nor sustain an offensive made by a regular army backed by its air force, infantry units, and an elite special forces on several fronts, and because guerrilla warfare against an Arab army is futile, because the reaction is usually different from that known to western armies, especially towards citizens and cities that the guerrillas use as a base. So a quick and resolute collapse of the fronts will follow after aerial and ground bombardment”.
The source ends by saying “Russia is not in a hurry to reach a negotiated settlement in Syria, they have insisted on the inclusion of the Kurds into the main body of the opposition along with the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) that was formed in Riyadh, also Moscow asked for the inclusion of Hatham Manna’a and Qadri Jameel along with others, it is also relying on the kurds because of their presence in Al-Qamishly which is 50 Kilometers from the Americans, which is a sign that the American presence in Hasakeh is not welcome, no matter how small and insignificant it is, Syria is now the Kremlin’s backyard”