All-out military engagement of the Syrian government army against the scattered but still combat-ready armed groups of the Islamic State (an international terrorist Muslim group banned in Russia), became an urgent necessity for the Syrian leadership and the command of the Russian group in the spring of 2021.
Conducting private special operations, limited both in scale and in forces engaged, not only failed to yield a positive outcome, but also entailed a diversion of forces and resources, as well as unjustified personnel losses. By this time, the enemy managed to strengthen itself across a fairly large area in a remote desert encroachment in the east of Hama, Homs and Deir ez-Zor governorates, at the junction of Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa governorates, as well as to entrench themselves in the province of Aleppo.
The terrorists mainly used snap attack tactics against individual vehicles of the Syrian army, oil production facilities, small, poorly fortified and remote military garrisons and checkpoints. The militants descended to killing representatives of local authorities and taking hostages, even women and children.
The special operation that began on April 23 involves some 15 thousand soldiers of the Syrian regular army and militia formations. Ground-environment warfare is supported by aircraft and helicopters of the Russian Military Space Forces. The Russian military establishment has already reported the annihilation of up to 200 terrorists in early May, as well as dozens of warehouses with weapons, ammunition and explosives.
Head of the London-based Observatory for Human Rights in Syria Rami Abdel Rahman provided the Arab regional news outlet Asharq al-Awsat with some data on actions by the Russian air force and the Syrian army. Thus, he reports that on May 14 to 15 alone, the Russian aircraft carried out over 180 sorties and more than one thousand strikes on ISIL locations and facilities. East of the city of Tadmor (Palmyra), more than 10 tons of explosives and over 20 terrorists were destroyed (who counted them and will count them further?) in a major underground shelter. Taking place here is the main phase of the operation to destroy the militants, who are fueled by personnel, weapons and ammunition from the nearby US At-Tanf military base and from the territory of Iraq.
According to the terrorists themselves, 13 militants were killed in the province of Aleppo. Muslim extremists are suffering heavy losses from the actions of Syrian artillery and Russian army helicopters at the junction of the Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor governorates, the blockade of which is gradually shrinking: the Syrian troops, along with the Palestinian formations, are adamantly cleaning up the grounds.
According to Rami Abdel Rahman, starting March 23, 2021, ISIL has lost more than 950 people, while the losses of the Syrian government army and militia units account for 1,423 people. Those of Iran and its loyal detachments are 149 soldiers.
According to the Syrian SANA news agency, 44 ISIL fighters were captured, who were interrogated to admit that their command had planned to launch active subversive warfare in the territory of Syria ahead of the presidential elections set for May 26. Attacks on the military and civilians, the detonation of mines and improvised explosive devices were planned in the country's major cities and, especially, in Damascus at large gatherings of local population and at administrative facilities.
The military establishments of Russia and Syria have so far refrained from official reports on the counter-terrorist operation's outcome, stepping up actions to destroy terrorist gangs in hard-to-reach areas of the country. However, even the initial results of the operation point to a humiliating loss inflicted upon the terrorists. Especially in the eastern desert areas of Homs and Hama governorates.