Syria Daily: Uncertainty Over Key Battle North of Aleppo


PHOTO: Rebels in the al-Mallah Farms, north of Aleppo city



Special: Laying the Foundations for A “Credible Transition”
Developing: Regime Declares Ceasefire…But Attacks Continue

The key battle north of Syria’s largest city Aleppo has fallen into uncertainty, with almost no information coming out of the area on Tuesday.

Covered by intense Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army and allied Iraqi and Palestinian militia launched their latest assault last Friday. Hoping to seize the last main route into opposition-held areas of Aleppo, the force moved into the al-Mallah Farms.

State media and pro-regime supporters put out a series of claims that the offensive was advancing. At one point pro-Assad accounts said all of the Farms had been taken, with the most enthusiastic asserting that the al-Castello Road had been cut.

However, the Syrian army settled on Monday for the declaration that it has taken the northern area of the Farms and part of the southern section. The pro-regime Al-Masdar News said “65%” of the Farms have been taken, although it admitted that the offensive, including the elite Tiger Forces, was unable to hold territory in the south and faces a rebel counter-offensive.

Pro-opposition outlets said on Monday that pro-Assad forces initially gained ground as rebels retreated under Russian airstrikes; however, they maintained that the rebels soon re-established their control over the disputed areas.

Opposition supporters also claimed that regime attacks to the east near Handarat and in western Aleppo city were repelled, while pro-regime accounts declared that building blocks in Layramoun in western Aleppo were occupied.

This morning the pro-regime sites merely say that the Russian air force carried out more strikes overnight, offering no assertions about the situation on the ground.

The Syrian military and its allies, enabled by Russian bombing, have tried for months to close off the al-Castello Road but have been repeatedly pushed back. Before the latest offensive, several attempts to advance into al-Mallah and near Handarat were foiled in June.

Video: Injured Journalist al-Abdallah Speaks from Hospital

Journalist Hadi al-Abdallah, seriously injured in a bombing in Aleppo city in mid-June, speaks from his hospital bed in Turkey:

Marking the Eid holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Abdallah offered wishes and prayers for colleagues who have been killed. The victims include his friend and cameraman Khaled al-Issa, who died of injuries suffered in the bombing that wounded Abdallah.

Friends said the journalist, prominent for his frontline reporting in the Syrian conflict, is likely to need six months for recovery.

Abdallah said he would return to work, ”We’ll continue even we get hurt 1000 times.”

Video: President Assad at Eid Prayers

Footage from pro-regime al-Ikhbariya TV of President Assad at this morning’s prayers marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan:

The channel said Assad was at the al-Safa Mosque in Homs.

Islamic State Kills 16 in Suicide Bombing in Hasakah

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on Tuesday night that killed at least 16 civilians and injured dozens more in Hasakah in northeastern Syria.

Announcing three days of mourning, the local council in the mainly-Kurdish city has cancelled all ceremonies for the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Civilians have been advised to avoid public areas and cooperate with Kurdish security forces in the city.

The bombing was in front of a bakery in the Salihiya neighbourhood. Three children and a woman are among the dead.

The Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said that the attack, carried out by two bombers, killed “35 Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units [YPG]”. However, local sources and Kurdish officials denied the death of any YPG forces.

The suicide bombing follows two days of clashes between pro-Assad fighters and the Kurdish police in Hasakah.

“ISIS wants to use the clashes between the Asayish [police] and the regime, and is seeing a weak point to carry out bombings,” said Amjad Othman of the Kurdish Reform party “We have to be careful as Kurds to have a balance in the fight against ISIS and the tensions with the regime.”

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      • What an incredibile effective fighting force Nusra has become. And without any kind of air support. If JaN would enjoy just half of the airstrikes they would be in damascus for the afternoon tea. Inside bashar’s palace.

        • Yes, they’re the rebellion’s elite units. What Hizbullah is to Assad, JaN is to the rebels. A highly motivated assault force enjoying a level of professionalism that others lack, providing an irreplacable contribution on the battlefield.

            • The flip side is the shiite suicidal jihadists, coming in with their iranian missiles and Hezbolah & Afghani hoards.. best for an Israeli to keep to themselves. Besides, you have enough on your plate trying to convince yourself oppression of Palestinians will work out in the end.-

              • Amir seems not to have a very bright or clear picture of what’s happening in Syria. I think he tend to confuse himself on his country security priorities. Or maybe he is happy shia forces are on its doorsteps more armed than ever. 2006 wasnt enough as a lesson for you Amir? You want hizb ti hurt you more??

    • Why does this video make anyone think nusra is anything? Its a bunch of shooting, without aiming, at nothing and then detonating a car bomb… Then you have the retards who are used as human bombs… Lame… Living is hard, dieing is easy. Always celebrating the cowardice and the insult to god.

      I wish these people had an education. Its truly sad.

  1. Good article by Al-Monitor: Will US, Russia start coordinating against Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria?
    “There are only two ways to pressure Assad,” a senior US official, speaking not for attribution, told al-Monitor. “Directly escalate against him by taking US military action or massively increasing support for the [increasingly extremist] opposition, which would likely make the war worse, cause the Russians/Iran to double down, etc.”
    The US official said, “Or pressure him through the Russians by cutting a deal that serves our own counterterrorism interests.”

    I’d like to emphasize the quoted text above to those of you who are hoping for a Clinton-enabled tip in balance that favours the rebels. Forget “right” or “wrong” in supporting a mass-murdering government. Can you envision a realistic scenario where the US under any administration comes out in support of a rebellion where an Al-Qa’ida-aligned force has established itself as the strongest entity and the only thing actually capable of threatening Assad? Would it go into open conflict with Russia and Iran, and put further strain on a state that’s already teetering on the brink – a state whose preservation is of utmost importance to its interests in the region and beyond? Would it do all this for a rebellion that will likely find itself radicalized a degree or two more by the time of 2017 New Year celebrations? Or do you think it’s more likely that the current trajectory will continue?
    Jabhat al-Nusra “is establishing schools and training camps, recruiting from abroad, launching major military operations and enjoying a sophisticated online presence, all the while providing safe haven for some of al-Qaeda’s most experienced terrorists,” McGurk told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “To end Nusra as a threat, however, we must find a mechanism to de-escalate and end the Syrian civil war, thereby allowing the moderate opposition to take charge of its own territory without threat of Assad’s barrel bombs overhead or terrorists down the street.”
    This will IMO be the policy the US will be pursuing aggressively from now on. Ending the war to the best of its abilities in the shortest possible time frame while preserving state institutions. This of course means securing Iranian and Russian interests in the country and getting their cooperation. Maybe they’ll manage to cease indiscriminate bombing, but ultimately the deep state – the regime – will find itself secured in place. Some cosmetic change in order, but nothing thorough.
    “The US will act with or without Russia,” he added. “They will try their best to talk with the [more moderate Syrian rebel groups] parties to tell them, this is the situation, you have to split geographically from Jabhat al-Nusra. … The Russians are thinking [about it], because the cost is very high.”
    While US officials have expressed understanding for the Syrian opposition’s concerns that more pressure on Jabhat al-Nusra could threaten their position vis-a-vis Assad, the American officials indicate that President Barack Obama feels he has the duty to deal with the threat to US national security interests posed by Jabhat al-Nusra and to do so quickly.

    In other words, “your concerns are worthless to us.”

    • That’s great Tundra man but it’s about a year late. The key moment actually came when Kerry told the opposition – in Vienna i think it was – last winter that the Russians will destroy themall in 3 months. That was a direct explicit statement with specifics from the Secretary of State, not some nameless official. And indeed that’s what the Russians tried over the subsequent months. And it got them nowhere. Do you or anyone else think that the rebels fighting in Syria now give a damn about what the US can or can’t, will or won’t do, with or without it’s allies ? And does the US really think that after those “three months” it can actually do anything ?
      The only question left on the table for the US is direct military occupation a la Iraq to install it’s favoured factions along with the regime – preservation of which was an explicit aim laid out by Leon Panetta at the very beginning of the conflict, not something that grew out of watching Nusra grow. Obama has promised – maybe im biased but it seems to me as the first black president one of his main goals is preserving white American lives – that there will be no large scale deployment. But the door is open for it. And the rebels and factions already know what that means, that some of the factions will be fighting the US directly. Obama will not commit but maybe the next one will.
      And yes, the longer they leave it, the bigger the fight they’ll have on their hands if they do go in, which is what everyone can see. The US relied on the Russians and Iranians for 5 years and they failed. Now they are stuck with this dilemma. Giving Nusra details to the Russians is meaningless, if bombing could have affected them it would have already, there isnt any place left to be bombed. The US knows that already too but right now they are out of ideas.

      • “The key moment actually came when Kerry told the opposition – in Vienna i think it was – last winter that the Russians will destroy themall in 3 months. That was a direct explicit statement with specifics from the Secretary of State, not some nameless official.”
        I’m well aware. However, plenty of those supporting the rebellion here and elsewhere place their hopes in the likely Clinton administration, believing that her hawkish attitude and previous harsh rhetoric towards Assad will result in a major U-Turn in American policy in regards to the rebellion. I, like you, believe this goes beyond one Obama and his administration. Specifics might change, such as more emphasis on the stick rather than the carrot in advancing its policy, but the end result will be the same.
        Also, no large scale deployment of troops will happen. That would be entering another major quagmire for which there is no appetite for. Rather, look at Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq. They keep troops where absolutely necessary, while outsourcing the counterinsurgency to local forces and regional allies and assisting them where needed. This is the template we can count on seeing in the future. And with Axis forces, YPG, and opportunists among the rebels themselves, there’s no shortage of potential partners to employ.

        • There was an article in prof Lucas’s ex paper The Guardian, about Trump’s foriegn policy. I read it when it came out earlier this year and have looked for it a few times for the quote but can’t find it now. Anyway they ask one ex CIA guy if he’s worried that Trump’s policy – such as he says there is one – is so at odds with, well, basic reality. And the guy says something like “candidates all come in with their own ideals and policies, and then we sit them down and go through what’s really going on, and then they get it and go along with the plan. We call it the “oh shit” moment.
          Clinton isn’t going to have an oh shit moment, as former sec. Of state when the crisis broke – and as her husband was president when assad senior died – she knows whats going on already. She was the one who when assad started shooting protestors visited him and claimed he would find a peacefull solution and that he was “a great reformer”. But unlike Obama she might find it easier to commit US troops.

      • I should add, like I wrote here yesterday, that anyway the offer of sharing nusra details with the russians is less to do with Nusra and more to do with Russia.
        First, military cooperation was set up from the beginning of Russia’s presence, there was a comittee formed officially to avoid conflicts in airspace but anyone would imagine that targetting detail would also be shared. Not just nusra but maybe the hospitals too, anything the russians wanted. It would be silly to assume otherwise.
        Secondly, Russia and the US are working together in Syria according to an understanding – how else would Kerry know the rebels would face 3 months of total bombardment, but this understanding is unofficial and under the table..the Russians have no guarantee that the next adminstration will not change this unofficial understanding and have been pushing for some official partnership agreement with the US. Like pigs might fly, the US is offering this semi-official meaningless sharing of info about Nusra to keep the Russians quiet and make sure they get on with their job like they’re told.

        • Being attack by Russia+U.S is like recieving a divine blessing and sufficent to buoy up ANY cause. Even ISIS with all its brutality is enjoying an unprecedent popularity due to its superlative resoluteness against a massive world-wide coallition (mostly composed of degenerated nation-states in moral bankruptcy) bombing campaing so expect JN´s popularity to skyrocket.

          • Divine blessing indeed. Ever heard of the adage “pissing against the wind always ends in disaster”?
            This is pissing in a tornado. As Charles Lister noted in his most recent article, JaN’s recruitment skyrocketed in the last few months, bringing in more than 3000 recruits to the group. US-Russian cooperation in bombing JaN would bring it to another level.

            • “US-Russian cooperation in bombing JaN would bring it to another level”

              US-Russian cooperation only believe in the superiority of technological means but they are unable to grasp the nature of religious and ideological motivations. All those fancy airplanes and treacherous drones are not a sign of strenght but of weakness, they show the degree of exhaustion of the “western” civilization and the lack of motivation of its populace to physically engage in warfare to uphold its interests.

              That´s why iran and the neo-marxists kurdish puppets are nowadays so valuable an asset (of course they are doomed to failure due to its reduced number and the repulsion they generate in the vast sunni majority).

              Former Directors of the Mossad and CIA talks about how that “west” is losing the ideological war:

              ISIS, Israel, and Spymasters: A Reality Check

              “Panelists Tamir Pardo, former Director of the Mossad, and Michael Morell, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, joined moderator Graham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs for a discussion on the global threat posed by Islamic extremist groups. The panelists discussed the evolving presence of the Islamic State in the Middle East as well as U.S. and Israeli efforts to mitigate the spread of ISIS.”


              • Bs As you are spot on. Will to fight trumps everything. Remember how, when US/ Nato forces found a way to deal with IEDs in Afghanistan, the Taliban switched tactics and sent people to join the Afghan army and carry out “blue on blue” attacks. Technology means nothing. They will find a way to kill you even if they only have their bare hands, and they’re not scared of you or you billion allies.

    • I think it is US national security interest not to transform Syria into a J.N. affiliate.
      (and not to allow hundreds of ISIS fighters to move towards J.N…., this phenomenon began to happen)

  2. Update:
    #National: An interesting article by warisboring on Syrian missileers,
    Excerpt from above link: “While the JAI does not lack suitable personnel — this insurgent group includes thousands of defectors from the former Air Defense Force and has its own military education facilities, too — such employment requires plenty of training … and lots of skill. Such tactics would further require a functioning network of ground observers trained to report the type, approximate speed and altitude of enemy aircraft. The existence of such a network would explain why most of the recently-reported losses have taken place roughly in the area around Maydaa and Al Bahariyah. If the JAI has restored a network of skilled air-defense observers, it is surely concentrated in a smallish area.”
    There’s been alot of IEDs placed outside mosques in rebel-held areas which all indicates Daeesh involvement.
    #Deraa: “FSA find an explosive device placed in front of a Mosque in #Yadouda set to blow during Eid Prayers.” – CombatChris1
    And another in Idlib.
    #Idlib: “Jaish Al-Nasr dismantled several IEDs in S. #Idlib countryside.” – QalaatAlMudiq
    #Aleppo: “A big convoy of regime forces was seen moving from Aleppo to Salamiya, probably heading towards Lattakia” – bdrhmnhrk
    An ambush target if there ever was one.
    #Damascus: JaI offensives in the area highlights the importance of launching raids in order to become more self-sufficient in arms production “The site where Jaish Islam seized several #Osa Systems: from Air Defense Base to agricultural settlement, E. #Ghouta” – QalaatAlMudiq


    Several sources report A big convoy of regime forces was seen moving from Aleppo to Salamiya, probably heading towards Lattakia. That should leave opportunities elsewhere.

    Al Qaeda Reaps Rewards of U.S. Policy Failures on Syria.

    Warfare and diplomacy are intrinsically linked, except when it comes to the Obama administration’s policy on Syria. While a negotiated settlement remains the only viable pathway out of the Syrian crisis, currently existing facts on the ground do not in any way allow for a meaningful process, let alone a solution. As things stand, there is no reason for Bashar al-Assad to view a political process as anything less than a game in which to taunt and kill his adversaries, while compelling his allies to double-down in defense of his regime.

    Nevertheless, the principal benefactor of Assad’s survival is not Assad, nor Russia, Iran, Hezbollah or even ISIS—it is Al-Qaeda. Having spent the past five years embedding itself within broader revolutionary forces and strategically choosing to limit and very slowly reveal its extremist face, Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra is reaping the rewards of our failures to solve the Syrian crisis. According to sources close to the group, al-Nusra has accepted more than 3,000 Syrians from Idlib and southern Aleppo into its ranks since February alone. That is an extraordinary rate of recruitment from within a territory roughly the size of Connecticut.
    3. Hezbollah accounts crackdown raises tensions in Lebanon

    Jan does 100 times more than Obama or the uSA when it comes to protecting Syrian civilians from attacks by Assad and his genocidal allies.
    That in no one way is an endorsement or approval of JAN on my part (that Angela DeAngelis will try to twist things that way).


    I try to look at the situation in terms of how it must look to Sunnis. Who looks more untrustworthy to Sunnis? JAN or the USA and West? Who does more to fight Assad: the moderate rebel fools who put their trust in a backstabbing US president, or JAN? Hasn’t Obama catered to Assad, Khamenei and Putin all along and done all he can to keep the moderates disarmed and deter them from attacking Assad, especially in Damascus?
    Remember how excited most Muslims were when Obama got elected? How much has that changed due to his backstabbing, his Red Line backdown and his drooling over Putin, Khamenei and Assad? Obama kneels at their feet and supports all their genocidal crimes.

  5. Considering how badly the enemy treated our POWs in Vietnam (torture was routine) Donald Trump insists those men deserve no respect because they got themselves captured. Seriously injured, unable to move and armed only with a pistol, John McCain supposedly should have shot his way out of North Vietnam. This dictum from a millionaire draft dodger who was living the high life while McCain was undergoing five years of torture.

    By Trump logic, victims of the horrific Japanese army in WW II would also deserve no special respect–survivors of the Bataan death march or men like Olympic Sprinter Louis Zamperini. Trump needs to read Laura Hillebrand’s terrific “Unbroken” to grasp the kind of treatment many of any POWs got. The book, which I just finished and could not put down, describes how Louis Zamperini survived weeks at sea followed by two horric years in Japanese camps featuring almost daily beatings. “No hero!,” Trump would say. .

    Seriously, how can any current or former serviceman, or any former POW or family member vote for such a candidate? How quickly we forget some of Trump’s most embarrassing positions!

  6. U.S. jets abandoned Syrian rebels in the desert. Then they lost a battle to ISIS:

    “American warplanes were diverted from an offensive launched against the Islamic State last week by U.S.-backed rebels in Syria in order to bomb a more enticing target in Iraq, withdrawing air support at a critical moment and contributing to the failure of the rebel operation, according to U.S. officials familiar with the incident.”

    “A large convoy of Islamic State fighters had been seen trying to escape across the desert after the city was recaptured by the Iraqi army, and U.S. commanders decided that the convoy represented a “strategic target,” according to U.S. military spokesman Col. Chris Garver.”

    “The convoy was destroyed by the U.S. and British planes along with gunships and aircraft from the Iraqi air force, which began striking the long line of Islamic State vehicles before the U.S. Air Force arrived. Hundreds of Islamic State fighters were killed and scores of their vehicles were destroyed in one of the more spectacular single assaults against the militants in the nearly two-year-old war against them.”


    Of course those “hundreds of Islamic State fighters” were killed only in the feverish mind of the hilarious state-controlled iraqi media (whose lies are constantly cited by the careless western mainstream media thereby contributing to the irredeemable mass disinformation of the average populace).

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