With al-Suhkanah liberated the Syrian Army is closing off options for ISIS to fall back to Deir Ezzor. But, it is the sealing action against U.S./Kurdish forces to the North along the Euphrates that is the real strategic victory.
The latest update on the progress of the war in Syria from Southfront lays out the tactical situation in the race for Deir Ezzor perfectly.
It’s three minutes of your time well spent.
Moreover, it’s important to understand why the U.S. is pushing on the economic and diplomatic front to repress the Russian government. If the SAA cuts off the oil fields around Deir Ezzor and chases the U.S.-backed rebels groups from the countryside around Al-Tanf to the south of Palmyra near the Jordanian border, we will have achieved neither the original goal (now long in the rearview mirror) of regime change in Damascus, but also the secondary goal of partitioning the country.
The goals of a partition of eastern Syria are two-fold.
- Create a Kurdish buffer zone where U.S. troops and bases can be maintained to move missile systems and materiel in to point at Russia’s southern flank and Iran.
- Cut the Assad government off from its main source of wealth, the oil and gas, to rebuild the country, making this a Pyrrhic victory for the Iran/Russia/Syria/Hezbollah coalition.
This is why the U.S. risked war with Russia over the taking of Resafa in late June by downing that SU-22. It was to stop this current advance east that would cut off the push south from Raqqa towards Deir Ezzor.
We’ve reached another major decision point in the Syria war. Will the SAA link up the forces from Resafa and al-Suhkanah to create a ‘cauldron’ and trap ISIS fighters there or push on the 60 miles to Deir Ezzor?
At some point the front lines have to be consolidated and shortened to concentrate SAA forces and short up gains. But, the oil fields around Deir Ezzor are the key to real victory in this conflict.
With the SDF Kurds making it clear that they are not interested in the U.S.’s plans for taking the whole eastern half of Syria it seems unlikely that we will see a concerted push across the Euphrates River. And even if the U.S. attempts to bribe the Kurdish leadership this will likely fall on deaf ears.
Now think back to the Turkish army’s massing in the north near Afrin to pressure the Kurdish canton there. As I said when it happened, it was done to remind the Kurds that there are consequences to the alliance with the U.S. and that they would have to choose.
Using the Turks this way serves both strategic and tactical purposes, which is why I think it’s the most likely reason why this attack suddenly started and just as suddenly stopped.
Now, everyone involved is under no illusions about what the stakes are. The U.S. cannot hold onto both Turkey as a NATO member and have the Kurds do its dirty work with the end goal being to partition Syria while the U.S. builds military bases to threaten Iraq, Iran and Russia.
This is a non-starter for Erdogan and Putin. So, it makes perfect sense that they would have discussed this plan beforehand. It also means that Putin, who has remained neutral on the Kurdish question, just told them how far he is willing to be pushed before unleashing his attack dog, Erdogan.
We know their answer from looking at how the map has changed in the past few weeks.