Syrian War Report – August 21, 2019: Syrian Army Closing Northern Hama Pocket

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Syrian War Report – August 21, 2019: Syrian Army Closing Northern Hama Pocket

On August 21, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies continued active operations in southern Idlib. Government troops liberated Tall Tamanah and advanced on the town of Tamanah, where an intense fighting erupted.

At the same time, some firefights were reported in northern Khan Shaykhun, which remains de-facto contested between the SAA and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Militants also carried out several anti-tank guided missile strike on SAA positions north of the town.

If the town of Tamanah is liberated, the siege on Khan Shaykhun and the remaining militant-held area in northern Hama will be tightened even further reducing chances of militant groups to fend off the SAA advance and keep control of this territory.

On August 20, the Turkish military started setting up an observation post on the M5 highway, near the village of Heish. The post is being set up by troops arrived with a large military convoy that on August 19 failed to reach Khan Shaykhun and rescue militants there before the M5 highway was cut off by the SAA.

Several explosions hit a position held by the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (an official part of the country’s armed forces) near the Balad air base north of Iraq’s Baghdad on August 20. Mainstream media outlets speculated that the explosion was caused by some kind of aerial bombardment.

The August 20 incident was the most recent in a series of strange explosions that hit PMU positions in the area. A previous such development took place on August 12. After that incident, multiple reports surfaced speculating that it was caused by an Israeli strike.

On August 19, Israeli Prime Minister gave mainstream media outlets a reason to speculate that Israel may have been behind the August 20 explosion in Baghdad.

“Iran has no immunity, anywhere,” he told reporters during a briefing in his Kyiv hotel, responding to a question about recent incidents on military installations in Iraq. Even if Israel is not behind these developments, Israeli politicians will exploit them to promote its capabilities to ‘deter’ Iran across the region.

It should be noted that the US-Israeli propaganda narrative argues that a notable part of the Iraqi military – the PMU – is just ‘Iranian proxies’.

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