Battle of Al-Shaykh Maskin (2015–16)

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Battle of Al-Shaykh Maskin (2015–16)
Part of the Daraa Governorate campaign of the Syrian Civil War
Southern Front Sheikh Maskin 23-1-2016.jpg
Southern Front tank during the battle.
Date27 December 2015 – 25 January 2016
(4 weeks and 1 day)
Location
Result Syrian Army victory
Territorial
changes
  • The Army captures Al-Shaykh Maskin town[4][5] and the Brigade 82 base[6]
Belligerents
Free Syrian Army[1]
Al-Nusra Front[1]

Syrian Arab Republic

Hezbollah[2]
Emblem of the Palestine Liberation Army.svg Palestine Liberation Army[3]
 Russia

Commanders and leaders
Unknown
Abu Mohammad Al-Hafizh [7]
Brig. Gen. Samir Uasilya[8]
Mohammed Fares  (WIA)[8]
Units involved

Southern Front[1]

  • 19th Brigade

5th Armoured Division[1]

  • 15th Mechanized Brigade
7th Armored Division[1]
Strength
2,500[8] Unknown
Casualties and losses
210 killed,[9]
250+ wounded[10]
98 killed[4]

The Battle of Al-Shaykh Maskin was an offensive by the Syrian Army to capture the town of Al-Shaykh Maskin in the Daraa Governorate and secure the Daraa–Damascus highway.

The battle[edit]

Brigade 82 captured and town stormed[edit]

Map of the battle for Shaykh Maskin

Early on 27 December, the 15th Brigade of the 5th Armoured Division of the Syrian Army launched the operation to capture Al-Shaykh Maskin, attacking its northern and eastern flanks.[11] Over the following two days, the Russian air force conducted over 80 air-strikes on the town.[12]

On 29 December, the Army captured the Brigade 82 military base, on the outskirts of Al-Shaykh Maskin, as well as the northern part of the town itself.[6] Government forces then temporarily lost the base due to bad weather, but retook it again overnight.[13] The following day, government forces continued with their attempts to take full control of Al-Shaykh Maskin[14] and captured the eastern part of the town.[1][14] This left them in control of half of Al-Shaykh Maskin.[15] They reached the town's main square,[16] as well as the Al-‘Umari Mosque (north of the city center), while the rebels issued a distress call for reinforcements.[17] The Army's advances were supported by another 15 Russian air-strikes.[18]

Further attempts by the Army to advance were made between 2 and 4 January,[19] as 43 more Russian air-strikes hit the town.[20][21]

Failed rebel counter-attack[edit]

On 5 January, the rebels launched a counter-attack towards the Brigade 82 base. At the same time, the 15th Brigade, supported by NDF units, continued making attempts to advance to Tal Hamad hill, west of the town, but were unsuccessful. By this point, the military was in control of 55–60% of Al-Shaykh Maskin.[22] By the evening, the rebel counter-attack stalled.[23] The next day, the rebels renewed their counter-assault and stormed the southern perimeter of the Brigade 82 headquarters.[24] However, eventually, this second assault failed as well.[25] The Russian Air Force conducted 12 air-strikes throughout the day.[26]

A third unsuccessful rebel assault was launched on the morning of 8 January, against the walls of the Brigade 82 Housing Facility. Rebel fighters were hampered by poor weather, fierce resistance and Russian air-strikes.[27] Opposition sources confirmed that since the start of the battle for Al-Shaykh Maskin the rebels had suffered ”major material and human losses”, but reported they were still preparing to make new attempts to regain the base.[2]

The Syrian Army captures Al-Shaykh Maskin[edit]

Between 9 and 10 January, 33 air-strikes were conducted against Al-Shaykh Maskin.[28]

On 11 January, government forces captured a total of 17 buildings in the southern part of the city[29] and two days later, another 35 buildings, thus seizing the southern part of the town, and leaving them in control of 80 percent of Al-Shaykh Maskin.[30]

Between 23 and 24 January, the military captured Al-Zaheriyah school and its surrounding area, as well as the town of Al-Burj on the outskirts of Al-Shaykh Maskin, after more than 40 air-strikes were conducted.[31] However, the rebels were able to recapture the school.[32] Still, Army advances continued as they took control of more positions in the town,[33] which included the Al-Bassam Mosque, parts of the Al-Diri neighborhood and large sections of the Saydaliyat road.[34]

During the night before 25 January, when the final Army assault was supposed to commence, a military detachment was sent to capture a height overlooking the town, from which the rebels could detect the military's planned attack from the north of the town. The fighting was heavy, but a heavy rain helped the Army unit climb up the height without being detected. The unit was then attacked from three sides, during which its commander, Mohammed Fares, was wounded. The detachment managed to hold the height until reinforcements arrived.[8]

The next morning, the Syrian Army launched its operation from the north side of the town and rapidly advanced, linking up with troops coming in from the east.[8][35] The fighting started 08:30 am, and shortly thereafter the SAA's 15th Brigade captured the Al-‘Umari Mosque.[4] The military made gains in the northwestern neighborhood of Al-Shaykh Maskin, as well as other parts of the town, while they were covered by 25 air-strikes.[36] The heaviest fighting of the day took place in the Al-Diri District.[37] However, after seizing Al-Diri, the rebels were left with only two building blocks under their control.[4] The Army's advances also enabled them to monitor all roads leading from the town to other nearby areas.[38] Many rebels started withdrawing from the town, mainly towards Ibta' and Nawa.[39] By 10:30 pm, the military had cleared Al-Shaykh Maskin of all rebel resistance.[4][5] By the end of the battle, 70% of the city had been rendered uninhabitable.[40]

Aftermath[edit]

On 27 January, the Army captured the strategic hilltops of Tal Hamad and Tal Koum.[41][42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Syrian Army captures the east district of Sheikh Miskeen". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Forces fight for strategic Syrian gateway to south - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East". Al-Monitor. Archived from the original on 27 January 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Islamist rebels issue distress call for help as Syrian Army advances in Sheikh Miskeen". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Syrian Army captures strategic city of Sheikh Miskeen in northern Daraa". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b Edward. "The regime forces backed by Iranian and Hezbollah officers fully control Sheikh Meskin and the clashes continue in its vicinity". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Syrian troops advance in south and center, drive back rebels - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Two prominent Nusra leaders have been killed in the last 48 hours". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e Sputnik (28 January 2016). "Sheikh Miskeen: Syrian Army's Most Important Southern Front Victory to Date".
  9. ^ Paul Khalifeh, Syrie: de nouveaux rapports de force favorables au régime Assad, RFI, 30 January 2016.
  10. ^ "TASS: World - Syrian army eliminates 50 militants south of Damascus". TASS. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Breaking: Syrian Army storms town of Sheikh Miskeen in northern Daraa". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  12. ^ "Syrian army recaptures strategic town from IS". Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Syrian army backed by jets clashes with rebels holding southern town". Business Insider. 30 December 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  14. ^ a b Edward. "The regime forces keep on trying to take complete control of Sheikh Meskin town". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  15. ^ "@deSyracuse Syria civil war (3 Jan 2016) - uMap". Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  16. ^ "Syria conflict: Troops battle rebels for key southern town". BBC News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  17. ^ "Breaking: Syrian Army reaches the Al-Umari Mosque inside Sheikh Miskeen". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  18. ^ jack. "15 airstrikes target Shekh Meskin and continued clashes around the town". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  19. ^ Edward. "Clashes in Sheikh Meskin and in the vicinity of Burj al-Qasab in the countryside of Latakia". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  20. ^ Edward. "More than 50 airstrikes on areas of al-Qaryatayn and Sheikh Meskin town in the countryside of Homs and Daraa". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  21. ^ jack. "More Russian airstrikes target Shekh Meskin". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  22. ^ "Battle for Sheikh Miskeen intensifies as Islamists counter at Battalion 82 HQ". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  23. ^ "Islamist counter-offensive at Sheikh Miskeen stalls: several militants killed". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  24. ^ "Breaking: Islamist rebels storm the Battalion 82 Headquarters in Sheikh Miskeen". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  25. ^ "Islamist rebels defeated at Battalion 82 in Sheikh Miskeen". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  26. ^ Edward. "12 airstrikes target Sheikh Meskin and bombing the countryside of Al-Quneitra". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  27. ^ "Islamist rebels fail to capture Battalion 82 base for the 3rd time in 72 hours". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  28. ^ Edward. "About 45 airstrike target Sheikh Meskin and other towns and cities in Daraa". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  29. ^ "Syrian Army seizes several building blocks inside of Sheikh Miskeen". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  30. ^ "Syrian Army captures a large part of Sheikh Miskeen in northern Daraa". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  31. ^ "Syrian Army make advancements in Sheikh Miskeen (Video)". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  32. ^ Edward. "11 fighters killed in Sheikh Meskin clashes and intensive raids". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  33. ^ Edward. "19 raids target Sheikh Meskin amid continued offensive by the regime forces on the town and its outskirts". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  34. ^ "Battle update from Sheikh Miskeen (Photos & Video)". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  35. ^ jack. "Clashes in Shekh Meskin and Lattakia countryside". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  36. ^ Edward. "25 raids target Sheikh Meskin and cover the advancement of the regime forces in the town". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  37. ^ "Syrian Army continues to advance in Sheikh Miskeen: Al-Umari Mosque captured". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  38. ^ Edward. "The violent clashes continue in Sheikh Meskin and in the Western Ghouta". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  39. ^ "Syrian army advances in strategic city in southern region". Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  40. ^ Edward. "Clashes in the vicinity of the strategic town of Sheikh Meskin". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights.
  41. ^ Edward. "Advancement for the regime forces in the countryside of Sheikh Meskin and controlling hills there". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights.
  42. ^ "Islamist rebels suffer more setbacks in northern Daraa as the Syrian Army advances west". Al-Masdar News.

Coordinates: 32°49′37″N 36°09′40″E / 32.8270°N 36.1612°E / 32.8270; 36.1612



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