Showdown; Approaching to Aleppo’s Final Battle

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Articles
Monday, 02 May 2016

The fresh diplomatic and battlefield developments indicate that the different sides of Syria’s war are making the preparations to resume the battle over Aleppo- a fight which could finalize who would win the war in Syria.

The battle for Aleppo has seen a variety of ups and down during the five-year Syrian war. The last major development in the northern conflict was when the Syrian government and its allies broke the siege of two strategic towns of Al-Zahraa and Nobul in early February 2016. As a result, the terrorists active in Aleppo and its western outskirts have lost their supply lines in the Turkish-Syrian borders. Following the triumphant advance, which represented a turning point in Syria’s conflict, Russia and the US have agreed upon a cessation of hostilities between the warring sides. The agreement won support of both sides’ allies.

The truce was expected to grant an opportunity for political dialogue and motivate the Syrian opposition to take part actively in the peace negotiations, however, after approximately two months since the ceasefire took effect, not only the political discussions bore no result but also the terrorist groups have intensified their attacks in some parts of Syria specifically in Aleppo, launching assaults against Syrian government’s allies as well as Syrian civilians. One of their attacks targeted Tel el-Ais town, located in Aleppo’s southwest, killing several resistant forces.

Despite repeated terrorist groups’ offensives, which are in serious violation of the ceasefire deal, the Resistance Axis’ forces along with the Russians, as allies of the Syrian government, showed restraint in a bid to give chance to the talks, which were under way in Geneva, to go ahead.

However, the negotiations failed, and now the reports suggest that the Syrian army and its allies are moving forces and equipment to re-activate fronts in Aleppo to take the city back from the terrorists. Simultaneously, Moscow is working to diplomatically pave the way for restart of anti-terror fight in Aleppo so that the West and some of regional countries would not find the smallest justification and excuse to come against allied forces’ assault on terrorists in the strategic city.

Diplomatic preparations for Aleppo battle

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that Washington failed to fulfill commitments over drawing lines between what it called the Syria moderate rebels and the terrorist group al-Nusra Front in Aleppo. Lavrov added that Moscow was collecting evidences showing there was cooperation between al-Nusra and other armed groups which declared that they stood by the truce’s terms.

“The evidences would be sent to the UN Security Council to review list of terrorist organizations,” the Russian foreign minister continued.

According to the ceasefire deal brokered by the US and Russia, and according to the Security Council’s resolutions, al-Nusra Front, ISIS and other groups linked to them are considered terrorist groups and thus it was legal to hit them.

On Wednesday, Moscow handed an official request, demanding the Security Council to blacklist Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham as terrorist groups.

Jaysh al-Islam is majorly active in Eastern Ghouta in the capital Damascus’ outskirts but Ahrar Ash-Sham is fighting in northern provinces, particularly in Idlib and Aleppo and holds close connection with al-Nusra Front as part of Jaish al-Fatah Alliance.

In addition to Russia’s diplomatic measures, the American officials early this week made remarks, intentionally or unintentionally giving legitimacy to the upcoming anti-terror operation by the Syrian army and its allies in Aleppo.

Colonel Steven Warren, the spokesman for US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq, has referred to the preparations made by the Syrian government and its allies to restart Aleppo front, maintaining that the reports said that Al-Nusra Front was the major dominant force in Aleppo and it was “not party to the agreement” in Aleppo.

At the same time, the US Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that it was too difficult to draw lines between al-Nusra Front and other rebel groups in Syria. Talking to the New York Times, Kerry said that Russia could launch airstrikes on Aleppo due to existence of the group in the city.

Such US officials’ remarks proved unfavorable to the anti-Syrian government analysts. Kyle Orton, a Syrian affairs analysts at Henry Jackson Society, has criticized Steven Warren’s words in a Twitter post, adding that the US-led coalition spokesman implied that the US supported Russian air raids in Aleppo.

The Business Insider website’ headline of an article on Syria read “the Defense Department has a new line that helps Putin and Assad in Syria.” Now that the US admitted that al-Nusra Front held ground in Syria, Washington and allies could heavily challenge an expected attack of Syrian forces, backed by their allies, against the terrorists in Aleppo. When the Resistance forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, launched assaults against the armed groups in Syria in late 2015, the Western officials and media have caused an propagandistic uproar against the move, arguing that Russia and the Syrian government targeted the so-called moderate rebels rather than hitting ISIS terrorist group.

Battlefield signs

The Western Media in past few days have presented reports on massive moves of the Syrian government’s forces and their allies around Aleppo which are bracing for resumption of military operations against the armed groups in the city.

“Russia moves artillery to northern Syria,” the US officials said, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “Deployment is a sign Moscow and the Assad government are preparing for a return to full-scale fighting,” wrote the Wall Street Journal.

The recent Russian redeployments of the units and the forces that operate them has been accompanied by the return of some Iranian army forces to government-controlled areas close to the front lines, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Charles Laister, an expert on armed groups active in Syria and known for his close links to some commanders of the groups, including commanders of Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, wrote in an analysis, published by the Middle East Institute website, that all eyes now must be turned to Aleppo, where the pro-Syrian government forces likely would launch a significant offensive soon.

There has been a redeployment of forces during the past few days as some units from Syrian army, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and a couple of Shiite militant groups moved to Aleppo from the recently-liberated ancient city of Palmyra, according to Laister. Laister continued that the Russian artillery was re-arranged near the city and fresh Iranian forces arrived in several Aleppo frontlines. Laister also said that all these signaled a final preparation for a firm siege of the city.

Talking to Iran’s Javan newspaper, an informed source has confirmed the certainty of Aleppo operation, maintaining that the launching date was unclear and it depended on the daily conditions.

At the same time, the Syrian media reported of Russian fighter jets striking terrorists’ positions in Aleppo- an incident signaling that final Aleppo fight was too close.

Aleppo battle’s strategy

The sources close to the Resistance choose to be silent on the strategy to be adopted by the Syrian army and its allies to restart Aleppo’s upcoming operation.

However, the Western research institutes from now decide to issue speculations on the allied forces’ strategy for the upcoming assault.

“Today, the Assad regime strategy in Aleppo is apparently focused on creating a double belt around the city in order to isolate the eastern neighborhoods held by Arab and Kurdish rebels, which are connected to the opposition stronghold in Idlib province and the western supply line from Turkey via the Castello road,” wrote Fabric Balanche, a Syria geopolitics expert, in an article published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“As for the outer belt, recent troop movements indicate that a broader offensive is brewing west of the city, between Al-Zahraa and Khan al-Asal, which should complete the encirclement of all rebel forces in the Aleppo area. Eventually, in the absence of a political agreement, the army will likely try to isolate the entire Idlib province in a similar manner,” asserted Balanche.

The Syrian army used, during the past few years, successfully the strategy of encirclement of different terrorists-held areas to press them for surrender.

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1 comment

  • Ahmed Asean
    Comment Link posted by Ahmed Asean
    Tuesday, 03 May 2016 11:20

    Iranian force needed must on the field so that they learn how there fighting skills and war machine be effective specially on asymmetric attack, counter attack,

    " To win in hundred battles is not highest point of skill but to overcome the enemy without fighting is the highest "

    - Zun Tsu
    Art of war

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