Eastern desert: ISIS, government consolidate positions; NSyA operations come to a standstill

7/7/16: With Eid al-Fitr drawing to a close, hostilities in eastern Syria have cooled down, but have not ceased completely. After repelling two disastrous offensives directed at its strongholds, the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Shaam has been consolidating its defensive positions and attempting to gain small pieces of ground; the New Syrian Army, having suffered moderate losses in its failed offensive on al-Bukamal, has not made any further attempts at attacking ISIS beyond regular skirmishes and reconnaissance operations.

The Raqqa frontline has seen almost no action recently. The Kurdish front is quiet with the exception of a brief skirmish near Shaddadah on 7/6, and the government front has seen only sporadic fighting, with ISIS attacks on several Ithriya checkpoints failing and costing them 20 fighters overall. The regime has not made any attempts to restart their failed Raqqa campaign, and will likely be focusing more on Aleppo and Latakia in the coming days.

Rural Tadmur and Homs have seen a set of violent clashes over the past week, with both the government and ISIS gaining small amounts of territory. ISIS has seen more success in Tadmur, where they regained ground in Sha’er and Arak Oil Fields, captured Talilah, and seized a couple of checkpoints near the Palmyra Grain Silos. SAA casualties were relatively light (30-40 overall) but many vehicles and heavy weapons were abandoned; Amaq News Agency reported the capture of at least eight tanks in Sha’er Field, and unconfirmed news reports state that two BMPs and several technicals were seized in Arak Field. However, government forces have been on the offensive in Homs, capturing multiple important points and advancing on Jubb al-Jarrah while repelling an ISIS counteroffensive against defensive lines in Abu al-Allaya village. Neither group has gained significant territory holdings in the past week.

Deir-ez-Zor has also seen some combat, although the situation there has been relatively calm despite occasional airstrikes. ISIS and the SAA both attempted to gain ground, but failed to attain their objectives. ISIS attacked government positions in the al-Sina’a district but were repulsed with light casualties (reports of 20-30 killed), and another SAA attempt at advancing on Thayyem Oil Field failed with an unknown number of soldiers killed. No attempts at retaking Jabal Thardah, a strategic sector of SAA-controlled high ground overlooking the city’s military airport, have been made lately.

SAA Republican Guard soldiers in combat near the military airbase, Deir-ez-Zor.

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