A grand pincer movement against the so-called Islamic State is taking place in central Syria. At both the northern and the southern prongs of this pincer is a seemingly restless force of men – fighting not only the terrorist group, but also time – with one immediate goal in mind: al-Sukhnah.
Everyday, and on multiple fronts, advances are being made by pro-government forces against ISIS to realize this massive encirclement scheme, the latest summary of which is as follows.
In the countryside of southern Raqqa Governorate, the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) elite Tiger Forces liberated almost twenty key sites from ISIS in a single 12 hour period yesterday, whilst at the same time, and in the same battlespace, the Republican Guard’s 124th Special Forces Brigade repelled a large ISIS assault on the strategic crossroads town of Resafa.
In far eastern Homs Governorate, pro-government forces led by the SAA’s 5th Assault Corps achieved a small but nonetheless imperative advance yesterday, capturing a string of important hilltops to the north and east of the al-Hayl gas field. Albeit slow in comparison to the sweeping gains of the Tiger Forces further north, the drive by pro-government forces in eastern Homs is nonetheless steady.
Lastly, the SAA and its allies also achieved a surprise advance against ISIS around two days ago on what had otherwise been a static front for months. The advance was made to the northwest of the T-4 Airbase and resulted in a two kilometer penetration that pro-government forces were able to consolidate.
If and when the jaws of this great pincer do slam shut, then swallowed away will be the hope of ISIS to ever maintain a presence in the heart of Syria. Those jihadists who choose to remain in eastern Hama and not surrender after the completion of the encirclement now taking place around them will most certainly die and, more so, before the end of 2017. In fact, even the hopes of survival for the Islamic State’s moderate cousins further to the west will die with the terrorist group in central Syria, just at a slightly later time.