08:20 GMT +322 October 2016
    Syrian government troops and allied militiamen walk inside the key town of Salma in Latakia province, Syria.

    Syrian Army’s Secret Weapon That Helped Liberate Salma

    © AP Photo/ SANA
    Middle East
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    As the Syrian Army battles militant groups, it relies partly on the strength of Russian airstrikes. But to recapture cities littered with narrow alleys and debris-ridden streets, it also relies on a secret weapon: motorbikes.

    Last week, the Syrian Army retook the town of Salma. Located in northeastern Latakia, roughly 15 miles from the Turkish border, the city became a terrorist stronghold in 2012, a terrorist bastion in a province otherwise held by the Syrian government.

    The city’s narrow alleyways and surrounding forests made Salma particularly difficult to recapture. While Russian jets accomplished their goals from the air, the Syrian government found it almost impossible to move in tanks, troops, or armored vehicles.

    Last week’s success relied on new strategies.

    "The way we fight has changed since the beginning of the war, and we have developed our offensive methods," said Hany, a 25-year soldier with the Syrian Army. "Nowadays, we use motorbikes for their speed and mobility."

    The bikes offer a number of advantages. Maneuverability lets the driver adjust course more rapidly to avoid sniper fire, while the lightweight frame allows it to sail over mines intended for larger vehicles.

    "My bike is harder to track and is too light to set off landmines," Hany said.

    The tactic was inspired by the very militant groups that the Syrian government is fighting, but it’s proven so effective that motorbikes may become a permanent fixture of the Syrian Army.

    Supporters of the Free Syrian Army ride a motorcycle with a rocket-propelled grenade in Kafar Taharim, Syria.
    © AP Photo/ Rodrigo Abd
    Supporters of the Free Syrian Army ride a motorcycle with a rocket-propelled grenade in Kafar Taharim, Syria.

    "It was the use of more than 80 motorbikes in the last battle for the town that had the greatest impact in terms of winning in the final 72 hours," one field commander said. "The motorbikes allowed us to transfer the wounded, carry light ammunition and food and were used by fighters carrying machine guns and night vision binoculars.

    "We don’t deny that we learned the tactic of using motorbikes from the militants," he added. "We’ve come up with an advanced course on street fighting and guerilla warfare, and fighting on motorbikes may become a tactic that regular armies come to rely on."

    The Syrian Army first implemented the new tactic nine months ago.

    "We were divided into groups,with each group assigned three motorbikes that were used to move food and ammunition and transport the wounded from areas that ambulances couldn’t access” said Haj, another Syrian soldier.

    "It’s fun to ride in times of peace, and in times of war they are useful. Eventually they’ll become an essential piece of equipment, like a gun or ammunition."

    While Salma has been liberated, civilians have not yet returned to the city. Still, the successful operations, in coordination with Russian airstrikes, has dealt a major blow to Syria’s militant groups.

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    guerilla tactics, airstrike, Daesh, Al-Nusra Front, Salma, Syria, Latakia
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    • Whatever makes a significant advance is welcome.
    • innocappuccinno
      Hollywould could launch a new wave of motorbike movies on this
    • peaceactivist2
      Why Russia jets are dropping bombs that looked very small, very thin skin, and old design. Doesn't look modern or scarey bombs at all. Are they powerfully?
    • michael
      yes, that's what it is all about - use what is available most effectively. I wonder how long it will be before civilians return to what is left of the city?
    • Huh?in reply to (Show commentHide comment)
      Jet fuel can't melt steel beams, The motorbikes worked because the terrorists tried to get away on skateboards....nobody said they were smart.
    • Mother Gorilla
      Bikes are great, both in war and in peace as well. Remember, in 2015 Russia sent the Nightwolves to help the Germans remember 1945.
    • tony pin reply toinnocappuccinno(Show commentHide comment)
      innocappuccinno, The idiots in Hollywood did that already in Vietnam called *The Losers*. Like its title it was a load of rubbish.
    • Alexey Yarmolenko
      anglo saxon terrorism will be defeated
      Secularist will win
      I vomit on anglo pigs
    • ron
      The Palestinians need to set that up in Gaza.
    • in reply topeaceactivist2(Show commentHide comment)

      Why waste a $50.000 precision guided bomb on a few taker trucks that are spread apart or a Toyota pickup truck when $1000 old fashioned bomb landed 5 feet further of the target and still destroy it. Bombing accuracy for unguided munitions have been great improved from the WW2 days. What counts better 5x $1000 bomb on one target to destroy it or 1 $50.000 precision guided bomb. I doubt that the Russian need more then 2 bombs at the most to destroy that Toyota pickup truck. If that many.
    • cast235
      this teaches me one thing. The terrorists, Turks , etc, do not have Javelin missiles. They lock on the bikes and chase them wherever they go and BAM!! But they hard to use.
      Nor they have modern RPG systems. The do the same. They also come with anti personnel, HE and other combinations. The AP one's will explode on top of the bike, usually leaving the bike in running condition. everything arrives but the driver and passenger. Then they can be given to Syrian forces.
      Russian heli's can go to tight spots. The REAL reason that Mujaheedin used Stingers, was because nothing else worked. Stingers payload did the trick. While it lasted, soon Russian heli's had anti missile system that defeated them .
      Same happened with vehicles.
      But HEY, whatever works. NAZIS left the bikes to and RAN...When Russia was on the move into Berlin.
      They ran so fast, that they left weapons and all.. Often passing by Allied forces. screaming " THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!!! RUN FOR OR LIVES!!".. this was told by colums of allieas that witnessed it...
      Now is terrorists. All was good until....
      " The Russian's ain't coming.... " A guy went by the base and saw some movement.... " THEY ALREADY HERE!!! "... Same said the Nazi's. French army . And many others.
      Many think thy have a tunnel to get to Syria. Because no one saw it coming.
      Perhaps, they push them from landing ships. With camo.
      It worked. Is all that count.
    • cmat.wolfgangin reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
      Mother Gorilla,
      did they ever arrive in Germany? I thought they only made it to Austria?

      But anyway, I'm German, and Germans my age remember 1945 without Motor Bike gangs ;-(
    • karlof1
      Motorbikes--horses of the fossil fuel age.
    • Well done! Adapt, invent, absorb, liberate.
    • Mother Gorillain reply tocmat.wolfgang(Show commentHide comment)
      cmat.wolfgang, yes, they ended up in Berlin.
    • jonathandavis909
      The west has no choice now but to admit that the Russian airstrikes in Syria are bringing success against terrorist groups, and move away from the notion that they are only hitting good terrorists and not Isis.
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