Capture of Palmyra increases likelihood of sudden Syrian army withdrawal from Damascus to the Alawite coastal homeland
And so the cancer spreads. The problem with ISIS is that this cancer is contagious.
Hat tip to IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review
Firas Abi Ali – IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review
20 May 2015
The ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site, was taken by Islamic State militants on 20 May, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Source: PA
Palmyra is a key transportation node that gives the Islamic State access to several Syrian provinces.
The group is likely to harass civilian areas and military bases in Damascus, Hama, and Homs, and is in a better position to launch an offensive on Aleppo.
Overstretched Syrian government forces are increasingly likely to focus on the defence of their core area in the coastal mountains, at the expense of regions such as Aleppo or Deraa.
The Islamic State captured the town of Palmyra (Tadmur) on 20 May 2015, following several days’ fighting.
The Islamic State can now link its Syrian administrative centre in Raqqa to Homs, and mount attacks from Palmyra in multiple directions. Homs controls access from Damascus to the coastal mountains that are home to the Syrian government’s core Alawite support base. In addition, Palmyra grants the Islamic State access to Hama Province via the Ismaili town of Salamiyah as the group already has a presence in the area. From Palmyra, the Islamic State will probably engage in multiple skirmishes, with the objective of forcing the Syrian government to disperse its forces, exacerbating its overstretch.
Overall, Syrian government forces and their ally Hizbullah are under extreme pressure. They are struggling to retain control of Deraa, south of Damascus; are almost besieged in Aleppo, with the city having lost its strategic value following the fall of Idlib; and they would be likely to lose the upper hand in eastern Damascus if the 39th Brigade base there is captured. Finally, the capture of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour give the insurgents access to the government’s ‘vital ground’ in Latakia, loss of which would entail its defeat.
Implications for Hama and Homs