Battle of al-Qaryatayn (March–April 2016)

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Battle of al-Qaryatayn (March–April 2016)
Part of the Syrian Civil War and Russian military intervention in Syria
Date3 March – 3 April 2016
(1 month)
Location
Result Decisive Syrian Army victory
Territorial
changes
Syrian Army captures al-Qaryatayn[4][5]
Belligerents

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

Syrian Social Nationalist Party[1]
al-Jabalawi Battalion[2]
 Russia

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Commanders and leaders
Basil Dellah [6]
(Qalamoun Shield commander)
Unknown
Units involved

Syrian Armed Forces

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Military of ISIL

  • Wilayat Dimashq
Strength
4,000–4,500[10] Unknown
Casualties and losses
7 injured (pro-government claim; last day)[11] 30+ killed (pro-government claim; last day)[3]

The Battle of al-Qaryatayn (March–April 2016) was a military operation launched by Syrian government forces, supported by Russian airstrikes, to recapture the mainly Christian town of Al-Qaryatayn from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The town lies in a junction that connects the Iraqi border with Palmyra and from Palmyra through to Damascus;[9] it fell to ISIL during the previous Battle of Al-Qaryatayn (August 2015).

The offensive[edit]

The advance towards Al-Qaryatayn started on 3 March 2016, when the military seized several hilltops on the northern perimeter of the Jabal Al-Mahsaa mountain chain.[12] The following day, they took control of the western perimeter of Tal Quraytayn hill.[13] Between 7 and 21 March, 16 more hills were captured as government forces continued to advance west and south of Al-Qaryatayn.[7][14][15][16]

After the Palmyra offensive that recaptured the city of Palmyra from ISIL on 27 March, Syrian government forces were free to intensify the operation on Al-Qaryatayn.[17] Over the following three days, the Army effectively surrounded Al-Qaryatayn.[18] Early on 30 March, the military attempted to breach the town from the southeast through the Al-Qaryatayn Orchards. However, this attack was repelled by ISIL’ machine gun nests after two hours of fighting.[19][20] The following day, military reinforcements arrived in the area,[10] including Russian military advisors.[21]

On 2 April, the Russian Air Force began using attack helicopters to weaken ISIL defenses in the town. The Syrian Army in coordination with the National Defence Forces and SSNP fighters[22] then entered the town with artillery support, taking control of two mountaintops and an orchard in the northwestern outskirts.[23] 30 ISIL militants were killed and 7 SAA soldiers were injured.[11] By the end of the day, the Suniyat-Homs mountain range, two kilometers from the town, was secured.[24]

The Syrian Army took over most of the town on 3 April 2016. The military declared they captured the whole town, while according to the pro-opposition activist group the SOHR they were in control of about half of Al-Qaryatayn,[4] including the town's center,[25] with fighting continuing in the eastern and southeastern part[26] where ISIL was on the verge of collapse.[27] According to another military report, the Army was in control of 80% of the city.[24] Later during the day, ISIL completely withdrew from Al-Qaryatayn.[5] Some of the remaining ISIL militants attempted to retreat to the mountains in the north.[28] ISIL forces laid land mines inside the town before retreating.[11]

Aftermath – 2017 ISIL counter-offensive[edit]

Amid a collapse of ISIL' forces against the SAA thrust towards Deir Ezzor, on 29 September 2017 ISIL launched simultaneous counteroffensives against the small towns of As Sukhnah, Bi'r Ghabaghib, and Bayt al Juhayshal to disrupt SAA logistics within the Deir Ezzor governate. As part of this offensive ISIL forces deep behind SAA lines attacked al-Qaryatayn and captured it and some surrounding territory after 2 days' fighting, leaving a pocket within SAA territory.[29] SAA forces reportedly recaptured the town almost a month later on 22 October. The Palmyra Coordination Committee reported that 67 bodies, many summarily killed by ISIL, were found in the town. [30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Syria's Army Prepares for Final Storm on Quraytayn". South Front. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  2. ^ Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (19 July 2016). "Kata'ib al-Jabalawi: A Pro-Assad Militia from Homs". Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "Syrian Army seizes high ground, prepares to retake Christian minority town from ISIS". RT. 3 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Syrian forces seize Islamic State-held town near Palmyra". Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b The "Islamic State" retreat from al-Qaryatayn city and the regime forces control it entirely Archived 2016-04-05 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (17 January 2017). "Quwat Dir' Al-Qalamoun: Shifting Militia Links". Syria Comment. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  7. ^ a b Leith Fadel (7 March 2016). "Syrian Army captures 3 points near strategic city of Quraytayn". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  8. ^ Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (2 April 2017). "Quwat Muqatili al-Asha'ir: Tribal Auxiliary Forces of the Military Intelligence". Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  9. ^ a b Churches burnt, cemeteries desecrated: RT visits liberated Christian city of Al-Qaryatayn, Syria — RT News
  10. ^ a b Leith Fadel (31 March 2016). "Large convoy of Syrian Army reinforcements arrive to Quraytayn for offensive, Map update". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  11. ^ a b c "Syrian Army Takes Control Over Mountain Range Near Al-Qaryatayn". Sputnik International. 2 April 2016.
  12. ^ Leith Fadel (3 March 2016). "Syrian Army advances on southern Quraytayn in southeast Homs". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  13. ^ Leith Fadel (5 March 2016). "Syrian Army pushes north towards ISIS controlled Quraytayn". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  14. ^ Leith Fadel (10 March 2016). "Syrian Army advances on Quraytayn after liberating more territory from ISIS". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  15. ^ Leith Fadel (19 March 2016). "Breaking: Syrian Army liberates several sites from ISIS in Al-Quraytayn, Map-Update". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  16. ^ Leith Fadel (21 March 2016). "Breaking: Syrian Army cuts off ISIL's supply road from Palmyra to Quraytayn". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  17. ^ "With Islamic State ousted from Palmyra, the world will learn what's left of its treasures". LA Times. 27 March 2016.
  18. ^ Leith Fadel (30 March 2016). "Zero hour approaches Quraytayn as the Syrian Army prepares to storm the city". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  19. ^ Leith Fadel (30 March 2016). "Breaking: Syrian Army attempting to enter Quraytayn". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  20. ^ Leith Fadel (30 March 2016). "ISIS repels the Syrian Army assault on Quraytayn City". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  21. ^ Leith Fadel (1 April 2016). "Russian special forces head to Quraytayn". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  22. ^ El Ejército expulsa al Estado Islámico del desierto|Internacional|El País
  23. ^ "Syrian Army fighting ISIS inside Qaryatayn". Al-Masdar News. 2 April 2016.
  24. ^ a b "Syrian forces retake strategic Christian town of al-Qaryatain". RT. 3 April 2016.
  25. ^ "Syrian army ′retakes′ al-Qaraytain near Palmyra from IS - News - DW.COM - 03.04.2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Army seizes key IS bastion in central Syria". The Express Tribune. 3 April 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  27. ^ ABC News. "After Palmyra, Syrian Troops Take Another IS-Controlled Town". ABC News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  28. ^ "Syrian Army Takes Control Over Christian Town Al-Qaryatayn in Homs". Sputnik International. 3 April 2016.
  29. ^ Bethan McKernan (2 October 2017). "Isis retakes town 200 miles into Syrian government territory in surprise counter attack". Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  30. ^ "at-least-67-civilians-found-dead-in-syria-town-taken-from-is". AP. October 2017. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.



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