DEBKAfile: Jan.31, 2017 – UPDATE: “Iran can no longer doubt that the two powers, America and Russia, have ganged up to push the Islamic Republic out of their way. Trepidation in Tehran was articulated on Monday, Jan. 30, at a convention staged in the Iranian capital to celebrate 515 years of Iranian-Russian relations, an anniversary that would not normally be marked by a special event.
In his opening remarks, Foreign Minster Mohammed Zarif Javad said: that Iran and Russia “need to have far more extensive relations,” and “few countries in the world have relations as deep and historical as Iran and Russia.”
This sounded like an appeal to Moscow for protection against the new US president. It most likely fell on deaf ears. Putin is fully engaged in promoting his new relations with Donald Trump.”
An order to remain stationary was issued Thursday night, Jan. 26, by the Russian Commander in Syria Lt. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlev to the high commands of the Syrian army and of Iranian and Shiite forces positioned in Aleppo, as well as Hizballah units in all parts of Syria. This order has so far been obeyed. It followed the Trump-Putin deal for joint action in Syria, which has caused alarm in Tehran.
Russian heavy bombers again strike Deir ez-Zour to break ISIS offensive
DEBKAfile January 31, 2017
Six Tu-22M3 long-range Russian bombers went into action again over the eastern Syrian town of Deir ez-Zour Monday, to break the back of the fresh offensive ISIS launched last week (first revealed by DEBKAfile on Jan. 28) to seize parts of the key town and air field still in Syrian government hands. The Russian defense ministry reported that the “precision strikes targeted and destroyed two ISIS command centers, weapons and ammunitions depots and jihadist manpower”
Sukhoi-30SM and Sukhoi-35S fighter jets from the Khmeimim air base provided protection for the Russian bombers.
The first Russian Tupelev bomber strike last week at Deir ez-Zour, an important Syrian oil center and ISIS link to Iraq, was escorted by US Hornets, also the first Russian-US joint operation of the Trump administration.
DEBKAfile – January 26, 2017 – Syria stands on the threshold of dramatic changes that will directly impact on the strategic and military situation along the Syrian borders with Israel and Jordan, DEBKAfile reports exclusively.
They derive from a deal struck this week by US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish US, Russian and Turkish security zones in Syria. This scheme will transfer military control of the country to those three powers. Each of them will be responsible for a zone whose borders will be defined and agreed upon by Washington, Moscow and Ankara.
As part of this arrangement, all forces from the Iranian military, the pro-Iranian Shiite militias and Hizballah will be required to leave Syria.
The US military is to have two security zones – one covering the entire area east of the Euphrates River up to the Iraqi border including Kurdish areas (see attached map). This arrangement will partly resurrect the accord reached in late 2015 by US President Barack Obama and Putin, for the division of Syria into areas of influence. All territory east of the Euphrates was allocated to the US, with Russia taking responsibility for all areas west of the river until the Mediterranean coast. .
Under the new deal, the Turkish area is to stretch about 650 kilometers along the entire Syria-Turkey border and extend between 35 and 50 kilometers into Syrian territory up to Al-Bab, the town where the Turkish military is engaged in its third straight month of fighting for its capture from ISIS.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that the overriding change on the ground will be the establishment of a second US security zone adjacent to Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan. It means that the approximately 7,500 US special operations forces troops currently in Jordan will be shifted northward into southern Syria.
Russia had originally planned to deploy Syrian military, pro-Iranian Shiite militia and Hizballah forces in battles for the capture of land around the cities of Derra and Quneitra on the Syrian side of the Golan. That plan has been dropped and will be superseded by the deployment in southern Syria of US troops accompanied by Jordanian special forces and Syrian rebels, trained by American instructors in Jordanian military camps.