Battles around Deir-az-Zor

The regime's Tiger Forces have finished their bizarre expedition to the north, capturing Maadan and eliminating the last ISIS position northwest of Deir-az-Zor. The Kurdish SDF has reached and mostly surrounded the city of Suwar, thereby effectively securing most of the Khabur river. They also took the Conoco plant, and are approaching the Jafra oil field. Once it falls, ISIS will no longer control any oil fields north of the Khabur (except the Derro oil field, which is way to the north). The regime's ISIS Hunters, who crossed the Euphrates from Deir-az-Zor a while back, have finally almost secured the town of Khusham (though it sounds like that's where the ISIS forces at the Conoco plant retreated to, so the battle may not be over yet). The Tiger Forces have stated that their next target will be the Omar oil fields south of the Khabur.

There's basically no way for the regime's ISIS Hunters to take the Jafra oil field. They would need to immediately secure Khusham and then sprint across the open desert to the Jafra Central Processing Facility, leaving their flanks badly exposed. I also don't think the regime's Tiger Forces will do it either, because I don't think the Regime would be willing to risk them like that.

Instead, I think it's more likely that the Tiger Forces push south (possibly through the desert, though the villages in the area don't look especially challenging) and then cross the Euphrates at Shahil. From there, it's a relatively short distance to the first of the Omar field's Central Processing Facilities.

What the Kurds do depends on how quickly the Tiger Forces are able to do all of this. If their progress is slow, the Kurds will likely cross the Khabur after they take the Jafra oil field, head south to the Omar field's Central Processing Facilities, and then continue along the Euphrates for as long as they can. If the regime gets to the Omar CPFs first, the Kurds will probably cross the Khabur farther north to take the Ghewari oil field, and also take the Derro oil field to prevent the regime from snagging it from them.

Because the regime needs time, and the Kurds are moving faster than it is, the likelihood of another regime airstrike on Kurdish forces in the coming days is high.

The Tiger Forces have taken the Halabiye crossing and associated archaeological site. This ancient fortress was built almost two thousand years ago by Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra. It's a gorgeous site, with big strong walls and an imposing keep. At this point, it also has zero strategic value.

Meanwhile, the pathetic remnants of ISIS are fighting back the ISIS Hunters' attempts to either expand their beachhead on the left bank or push south along the right bank.
The Kurds have taken another oil field.

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Comments

As expected, the Russians have conducted airstrikes against US-backed Kurdish forces near Deir-az-Zor. It sounds as though there's a decent number of Russian ground forces in the area, too. Maybe they'll be the ones who try to take the oil fields?

The Kurds haven't advanced on the Jafra oil field (possibly because they were getting bombed by the Russians), but they have started trying to take Suwar, and to shrink the pocket containing the Derro oil fields. This is a relatively conservative strategy aimed at securing their territory north of Deir-az-Zor. If the regime (or Russia?) does take the massive Omar oil fields to the south, then at least the Kurds will have secured their southern flank.

The US has also conducted air strikes on ISIS forces in Mayadeen. This is somewhat curious because Mayadeen is a potential crossing site for the regime (or Russia?) to get to the Omar oil fields. This may be our way of saying "Go here please." We'll have to see if anyone gets the message.

As always, red is the regime, yellow is the Kurds, and black is ISIS.

Marshall Lewis, Sep 25