Battle of al-Qaryatayn (March–April 2016)

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Battle of al-Qaryatayn (March–April 2016)
Part of the Syrian Civil War
Date 3 March – 3 April 2016
(1 month)
Location Al-Qaryatayn, Homs Governorate, Syria
Result Major Syrian Army victory
Territorial
changes
Syrian Army captures al-Qaryatayn[2][3]
Belligerents

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

 Russia

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Units involved

23x15px Syrian Arab Army[1]

  • 11th Division
  • 18th Division
23x15px Military of ISIL
Casualties and losses
7 injured (pro-government claim; last day)[4] 30+ killed (pro-government claim; last day)[1]

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;[5] it fell to ISIL during the previous Battle of Al-Qaryatayn (August 2015).

The offensive

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.[6] The following day, they took control of the western perimeter of Tal Quraytayn hill.[7] Between 7 and 21 March, 16 more hills were captured as government forces continued to advance west and south of Al-Qaryatayn.[8][9][10][11]

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.[12] Over the following three days, the Army effectively surrounded Al-Qaryatayn.[13] 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.[14][15] The following day, military reinforcements arrived in the area,[16] including Russian military advisors.[17]

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[18] then entered the town with artillery support, taking control of two mountaintops and an orchard in the northwestern outskirts.[19] 30 ISIL militants were killed and 7 SAA soldiers were injured.[4] By the end of the day, the Suniyat-Homs mountain range, two kilometers from the town, was secured.[20]

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,[2] including the town's center,[21] with fighting continuing in the eastern and southeastern part[22] where ISIL was on the verge of collapse.[23] According to another military report, the Army was in control of 80% of the city.[20] Later during the day, ISIL completely withdrew from Al-Qaryatayn.[3] Some of the remaining ISIL militants attempted to retreat to the mountains in the north.[24] ISIL forces laid land mines inside the town before retreating.[4]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Syrian Army seizes high ground, prepares to retake Christian minority town from ISIS". RT. 3 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Syrian forces seize Islamic State-held town near Palmyra". Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 The “Islamic State” retreat from al-Qaryatayn city and the regime forces control it entirely
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Syrian Army Takes Control Over Mountain Range Near Al-Qaryatayn". Sputnik International. 2 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Churches burnt, cemeteries desecrated: RT visits liberated Christian city of Al-Qaryatayn, Syria — RT News
  6. Leith Fadel (3 March 2016). "Syrian Army advances on southern Quraytayn in southeast Homs". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Leith Fadel (5 March 2016). "Syrian Army pushes north towards ISIS controlled Quraytayn". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Leith Fadel (7 March 2016). "Syrian Army captures 3 points near strategic city of Quraytayn". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Leith Fadel (10 March 2016). "Syrian Army advances on Quraytayn after liberating more territory from ISIS". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "With Islamic State ousted from Palmyra, the world will learn what's left of its treasures". LA Times. 27 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Leith Fadel (30 March 2016). "Breaking: Syrian Army attempting to enter Quraytayn". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Leith Fadel (30 March 2016). "ISIS repels the Syrian Army assault on Quraytayn City". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Leith Fadel (1 April 2016). "Russian special forces head to Quraytayn". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. El Ejército expulsa al Estado Islámico del desierto|Internacional|El País
  19. "Syrian Army fighting ISIS inside Qaryatayn". Al-Masdar News. 2 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Syrian forces retake strategic Christian town of al-Qaryatain". RT. 3 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Syrian army ′retakes′ al-Qaraytain near Palmyra from IS - News - DW.COM - 03.04.2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Army seizes key IS bastion in central Syria". The Express Tribune. 3 April 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. ABC News. "After Palmyra, Syrian Troops Take Another IS-Controlled Town". ABC News. Retrieved 5 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Syrian Army Takes Control Over Christian Town Al-Qaryatayn in Homs". Sputnik International. 3 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>