Syria Daily: Rebels Counter-Attack Near Aleppo

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PHOTO: Rebel vehicle bomb is detonated in Amiriya, near Aleppo city, on Monday


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Analysis: The Death of the Southern Front Rebel Bloc?


UPDATE 1400 GMT: Opposition activists claim that 112 people suffered breathing difficulties because of a regime chlorine attack on the Sukkari district of Aleppo city:

Sukkari was hit on Monday by Russian attacks which included the firing of a Tochka-21 ballistic missile. At least six people were killed.

Collection of chlorine canisters after the attack:


UPDATE 0715 GMT: With the restoration of the siege on Aleppo, Russia has returned to its propaganda line of “humanitarian corridors” for residents and fighters in opposition-held areas of the city.

Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Monday, “Each day water, food and essentials are delivered to local residents through seven special corridors. The eighth one is open near Castello Road for armed militants to leave the city.”

Russia initially tried the line in late July, weeks after its bombing enabled pro-Assad forces to close the last route into the opposition-held districts.

However, residents and activists said that the corridors were a fiction and that anyone who neared regime-held districts risked being shot by pro-Assad snipers.

Russian and Syrian State media briefly posted video which claimed to be of civilians moving through regime checkpoints; however, critics said the footage was staged, producing evidence of regime personnel posing as surrendering rebels and civilians.

The PR operation was suspended within days because of the rebel offensive, southwest of Aleppo, that seized territory and briefly lifted the siege.

Antonov insisted on Monday, “The question of providing humanitarian aid to all Aleppo residents, despite the ongoing talks between all parties concerned, has not lost its relevance.”


ORIGINAL ENTRY: A day after losing key positions near Aleppo, rebels have counter-attacked, hoping to lift the pro-Assad siege on Syria’s largest city.

A rebel assault in the Amiriya district began with a remote-controlled vehicle bomb by the Ahrar al-Sham faction. Units from the Fatah Halab operations room then attacked on the ground, taking several buildings.

On Sunday, the Syrian military and foreign allies — enabled by intensive Russian bombing — finally reoccupied an artillery base southwest of Aleppo after waves of attacks for almost a month. The rebel capture of the base in early August had broken a month-long siege on opposition districts.

Control of Amiriya, close to the artillery base, would enable shelling that could lead to yet another rebel offensive to re-open the Ramouseh corridor.

Artur Rosinski’s map:

ALEPPO 06-09-16

Russia and the Assad regime are hoping to close the corridor once and for all to strengthen their hands in political discussions with the US.

On Monday, the Syrian military and foreign allies moved towards that goal with the capture of Mushrifah and nearby quarries.

Moscow has proposed that aid to Aleppo, under 48-hour truces, come only through the al-Castello road from the north of Aleppo. Russian bombing ensured that pro-Assad forces took control of the route in July, establishing the initial siege.

The Syrian opposition and rebels had countered with the proposal for the use of Ramouseh to ensure that assistance reached opposition-held districts of the city.

Russia stepped back from a deal with the US last weekend as the artillery base was retaken.

After confirmation of the military success, Russian officials again spoke of the possibility of the 48-hour truces. President Vladimir Putin said, after meeting Barack Obama for 90 minutes in China: “Against all odds we have a certain rapprochement and understanding of what we might do to ease tensions in Syria and achieve mutually acceptable solutions.”

Obama said that, while there were “some productive conversations”, an agreement was being hindered by “gaps of trust”.

Footage of rebel ground operations in Amiriya on Monday:


2 Turkish Soldiers Killed, 5 Wounded by ISIS

Three Turkish soldiers have been killed and four others wounded by ISIS missile strikes on their tanks.

The Turish military announced the casualties during clashes with the Islamic State in Wuquf village, near the town of al-Rai.

Two members of the Free Syrian Army were also killed and two others injured

Wuquf was among the villages seized by the FSA, supported by Turkish armor, near al-Rai in the second phase of the offensive that began on August 24 along the Turkish-Syrian border.


Obama’s Envoy Met Kurdish Forces Inside Syria Last Week

The State Department has confirmed that a senior US envoy met Kurdish militia inside Syria last week, as tension rose over a Turkish-rebel offensive taking territory from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Brett McGurk, the special Presidential envoy to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, met the SDF representatives to pledge “ongoing US support for the SDF in the fight against ISIL [the Islamic State], while emphasising the need for strict adherence to prior commitments”.

Initially after the Turkish-rebel offensive along the Turkish-Syrian border began on August 24, the US called on the Kurdish militia YPG — which leads the SDF — to withdraw east of the Euphrates River, Turkey’s “red line” for Kurdish-controlled territory.

However, the offensive moved south from the border and the fight against the Islamic State into areas held by the SDF. Washington then criticized the operations as unacceptable. The US then said a truce was in place — the claim was denied by Turkish officials, but the Turkish-rebel offensive stopped at the Sajur River, ending clashes with SDF units.

The spokesman said McGurk had also visited Turkey: “In all of his meetings, he encouraged unity of effort and de-confliction between all forces fighting ISIL in northern Syria.”


Putin: “Turkey’s Intervention Was No Surprise”

President Vladimir Putin has assured that Russia was expecting Turkey’s military intervention in northern Syria, without saying whether Moscow had endorsed the operations alongside the Syrian rebels whom Russia is fighting.
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“As for surprises, we have the foreign ministries and special services working to this end, so that we could have less surprises,” Putin said at a news conference at G20 summit in China:

We understood what was going on, where the things were coming – as the movement and objective are visible.

The problems Turkey was facing over the Syrian events were also visible. We see all this very well and generally speaking, this comes as no surprise to us.

There is widespread speculation that Turkey reached an agreement with Russia before its August 24 intervention, with airstrikes, tanks, and special forces supporting the rebel takeover of a 55-km (34-mile) corridor along the Turkish-Syrian border from the Islamic State.

The Turkish-rebel offensive has also moved south, capturing areas held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Days before the intervention, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met Putin.

The speculation asserts that, in return for Russia’s acceptance of the rebel control in northern Aleppo Province, Ankara is assenting to Russian-enabled advance by pro-Assad forces that has imposed a siege on Aleppo city.

Erdoğan appeared to point at an arrangement when he said at his news conference in China on Monday:

We cooperate with the [US-led] coalition, more with the NATO countries. But we also develop cooperation with Russia, especially on the region of Aleppo. The work is underway to urgently ensure the ceasefire regime observance in the region. The Russian, US and Turkish foreign ministers discuss this topic.

I hope that before the Eid al-Adha holidays [September 11] that this will be done, and the Aleppo population will be saved from the bombs. We want to achieve this goal.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. @Scott:
    .
    How is it ‘Russian propaganda’ to state that food, water, medical supplies, etc. are being fed into E.Aleppo sufficient to sustain the civilian population until they can be evacuated and the JI-Joes safely extirpated, or NATO’s Contras stop using the civilians as human shields and take up the generous-to-a-fault offer to be allowed leave alive, saving everyone concerned a lot of bother?
    .
    Are you trying to imply these corridors are not open and working? Fact is that the joint Syrian/Russian humanitarian relief efforts into E. Aleppo are ongoing since Castillo Rd was sealed almost two months ago, and it is you who wilfully conceal this and pretend otherwise.

    • There is no evidence that Russia and the Assad regime have provided any assistance to opposition-held areas of Aleppo city, or that they have opened corridors.

      There is substantial evidence of bombs and missiles on those opposition-held areas.

        • This “evidence” is….

          1. The Russian-Syrian State TV photo-op just after the Defense Ministry’s announcement (referred to in the article)
          2. A distortion by RT of De Mistura’s statement which called for the UN to be in charge of the humanitarian operation.

          Do you have anything besides this?

          • Whether the UN is in charge was not at issue. De Mistura welcomed the Russian/Syrian initiative even though it is not under UN auspices. Your blank assertion of ‘no evidence’ is demonstrably false.
            .
            Moreover, if there were really no humanitarian deliveries into E.Aleppo since late July there would surely have been thousands dead from starvation by now. As this has not been reported, I think it is safe to presume there have been and continue to be, as advertised.

            • Barbar that is not true. The UN did not welcome the corridors, it called for UN control of the corridors.
              .
              By the way, I am surprised to see an arch-cynic such as yourself quote RT, as if it were a real news outlet, rather than a fiction channel directed by the Kremlin.

              • I didn’t say the UN welcomed anything, but it’s perfectly true that De Mistura did, as you can hear from his own mouth, while opining the program should be brought under UN control.
                .
                Do you really believe that the inhabitants of E.Aleppo have survived for >40 days on these 3 utes of watermelon? Even adopting for a moment the most extreme gullibility, I cannot:
                https://twitter.com/Souria4Syrians/status/772804956072120320
                .
                As for the evidence from RT quoted, the way to refute it with better evidence, not generic gripes about its provenance and the nature of the sender. As for any other, when they are right, they’re right.
                .
                Obviously the JI-Joes in E.Aleppo [and their NATO wranglers] desperately want to prevent civilians, their precious meatshields aka last thing standing between them and a crushing defeat, from evacuating the area as recommended and facilitated by the government, so they spread agit-prop about how the escape routes either don’t exist or anyone approaching such points will be shot [quite probably by them], exactly as Scot does above.
                .
                But even such low tactics do not change the reality that Russian/Syrian relief/evacuation operation has been in place since late July.
                .
                This NATO propaganda is also completely incongruous, as these crocodile-tear-stained ‘humanitarian’ sirens are effectively urging the civilian population to stay put and starve or die under the military necessity of an onslaught which will be required to winkle out the remaining JI-Joes if they do not surrender first.
                .
                My conclusion is that the purveyors of said propaganda sincerely do not give a single shit about the civilians of E. Aleppo [or anywhere else in Syria to be precise] but cynically use them as leverage in a last-ditch attempt to save their assets and the otherwise hopeless position.

              • Here’s confirmation from no less an authority than the Reverend Sheikh Muheyseni [Osama 2.0] himself that 4 evacuation/relief points to E.Aleppo were in operation by early August, which is when he is seen here exhorting his Joes to break through at Ramouseh and, NB, he does not mention they are racing to rescue anyone threatened with starvation but rather to reserve the modest veiled sisters for themselves [that’s his raging hormones speaking, as usual]:
                https://twitter.com/walid970721/status/762627577139884032

              • Not exactly. He says that, behind the claim of four crossings, the pro-Assad foreign militias are detaining people at checkpoints.

              • Setting aside whether people were arrested or not [quite likely, I’m sure, that JI-Joes hoping to escape the Kessel draped in long flowing burqas bulging in all the wrong places would be], are you suggesting Osama 2.0 was somehow fooled into believing that the crossings existed whereas in fact, according to you, they never have?
                .
                Because that is getting into the realm of CT nonsense, IMHO.

  2. Erdogan – read his words carefully – “We cooperate with the [US-led] coalition, more with the NATO countries. But we also develop cooperation with Russia, especially on the region of Aleppo. The work is underway to urgently ensure the ceasefire regime observance in the region. The Russian, US and Turkish foreign ministers discuss this topic.”
    .
    It means that the Turks will try to prevent the rebel route from being reopened and to persuade the rebels to accept a ceasefire in Aleppo and that the Castello Road corridor to be the only corridor into Aleppo. Maybe this explains the absence of JAF in the recent action around the artillery school.
    .
    This statement comes after various statements from the turkish government about restarting the transition talks sponsored by the US and Russia. So in a snapshot, the Turks are now employed in putting pressure on the rebels to accept the talks allowing them to restart before Obama leaves office. The loss of Aleppo to the regime will leave the rebels in a considerably weaker position if talks restart.
    .
    It’s been pointed out here before by Barbar that the Turks would let the rebels down, but not all the factions are under Turkish control so the outcome isn’t certain yet. The rebels have to basically keep going in Aleppo until Obama is out of office.

  3. A message from Vladimir Putin: I’ve humiliated Obama and undermined Europe’s leaders. My plan is working
    In yesterday’s New York Times I told Americans what I would like them to believe about my aims. Today, for readers of The Times in London, I would like to explain what I’m really up to.
    My offer to oversee the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal is of course bogus, but it has been a gratifying success.
    First, I have humiliated the West. I have exposed the divisions between European countries, between Europe and America, and also within your political systems. Your leaders can no longer act quickly when national security or principle is at stake. They will have to think about me and my reaction.
    Barack Obama, a man I despise, is now at the mercy of his Congress, just as the toadying David Cameron tripped up over his ill-judged vote in Parliament. In particular, your carelessly drawn “red line” about the use of weapons of mass destruction is a fiction. The world can see that you have lost the the will to act, even when you make solemn public promises.
    In Syria, your inaction and gullibility has opened a vacuum that the Islamist extremists will fill. That suits me fine. I believe in divide and rule and thrive when I have enemies that I can demonise (you can ask the Chechens). You have demoralised those foolish rebels who believed that the West was on their side. And you have further undermined your credibility with Turkey, a large and useful country that is increasingly run along lines of which I approve.
    I have bought time for the Assad regime. I do not actually care about Syria or Syrians. Our arms contracts there are small by the standards of what we sell elsewhere. Russia’s naval base there is symbolically important (and useful for electronic snooping on Britain’s base in Cyprus), but until I have finished rearming and have regained a proper fleet, it is of no military use.
    I do not want the Assads to fall, and especially not at your hands. Toppling authoritarian regimes could easily become a habit and I like authoritarian regimes. I want the civil war to continue. because instability in the Middle East keeps the oil price up — which is a boon for my annoyingly uncompetitive economy.
    Did I mention that the chemical weapons offer was bogus? So are most things I say. As a proud former KGB man, I know that words are merely servants of ideas. We were good at disinformation and bluff then. We are even better at it now.
    I do know a lot about Assad’s chemical weapons, because much of it was sold by my Soviet predecessors, and we have been secretly selling delivery systems via Belarus in the meantime. There is a great deal of it. You do not seriously believe that we, or anyone else, are going to collect, verify and destroy it, and in the middle of a civil war? I thought not.
    What my diplomatic theatre does achieve is to soak up the remnants of Western will power. It will drag on interminably and nobody will have the courage to speak out against it again. You are all privately relieved that you do not have to deal with the Syrian crisis and I’ve given you an excuse for inaction.
    The biggest benefit for me is that nobody will want to confront me. My record as a diplomatic spoiler has been whitewashed. So has all the talk from America about “recalibrating” the relationship. From now on, “Russian goodwill” will be essential for the farce to continue.
    So don’t criticise me for locking up dissidents (or letting them die in prison). Don’t object if I bully my ex-Soviet neighbours (I start a big military exercise on the borders of the Baltic states and Poland next week, by the way). Don’t investigate the billions of dollars that my friends and I launder through Western banks. Don’t attack my manipulation of the European gas market. Don’t try prosecuting your citizens who get caught selling secrets to my spies. Don’t complain about my attitude to gay Russians. In short, don’t do anything to offend me. Otherwise I will stop “helping” you in Syria.
    Your bumbling is particularly gratifying because times were tough before this happened. People mocked my manly torso when I appeared in public. Economic growth had stalled. Several former Soviet republics were about to sign important deals with the EU. One of my most troubling rivals, Alexei Navalny, had done rather well in the Moscow mayoral election.
    Now those troubles are behind me. You have put Russia back at the centre of world decision-making in a way it has not been for years. I will continue to watch your mistakes and will exploit them ruthlessly. I have no doubt that the callow and poll-driven politicians you elect will make many more. In the meantime, please accept my thanks. Russian interests are in better health today.
    Yours sincerely, Vladimir
    Edward Lucas
    September 13/2013

    • No, my friend, that’s just a clumsy effort at reverse-psychological manipulation from some whinging NATO pole-greaser, not a message from Putin.

  4. Replying the the bullitin: Putin: “Turkey’s Intervention Was No Surprise”

    I read this as:

    Turkey has informed Russia about an eminent campaign in Northern Aleppo against enemies of TR (ISIS & PKK/YPG/SDF). To be able to ensure a victory over TR’s enemies Turkey required a substantial force. A force which would not be bombed by Russia (like the New Syrian Army). So to not give any reason for Russia to bomb the substantial force, Turkey only works with non-jihadist FSA-related groups for this campaign. Jihadist like JFS or other extremist groups were not allowed to participate, giving no reason for Russia and USA to bomb and/or object the move byTurkey.
    Russia, knowning that:
    1) Turkey will anyway pursue it’s plan
    2) Russia has no valid arguments to bomb the non-jihadist rebel force
    3) Turkey/Rebel intervention against ISIS/SDF will cause many WIA & KIA at the rebel side (front line army). Any rebel WIA/KIA is good news for Assad.
    4) FSA-related rebels will be drawn from the Southern Aleppo front, weakening the defences of the Ramousah area + preventing any new attacks in Aleppo because of manpower shortages. The TR plan would mean the end of the Fateh Halab’s ‘Next phase, liberation of the whole of Aleppo’ plan.

    Based on abovementioned consequences of Turkey’s plan, Russia agreed to that plan knowning that it would enable a successful counterattack to reclaim Southern Aleppo due to a significant withdrawal of defensive forces in Ramousah… which eventually happened.

    My speculation is that:

    The FSA-related rebel groups (forcefully) agreed to fight in the Northern Aleppo countryside hoping to regain as much as possible of the Northern Aleppo countryside, with protection (against aerial bombardments) due to the presence of TR-forces. Rebels know that – to capture Al Bab – they might have to follow the Manbij encirclement approach, bringing a significant rebel force less than 40 km from downtown Aleppo. Eventually this allows rebels to open another route to Aleppo via the East.

    Russia got thanks to Turkey excellent intel on the actual strength of the Southern Aleppo defences and used its force to bomb the remaining jihadist opposition forces, knowning that the USA could not object against an attack against the JFS (and others). So, yes, Russia enabled a victory thanks to Turkey’s Intervention (plans).

  5. Oil-rich Russia taps into reserve funds
    .
    The Reserve Fund, which peaked at $142.6 billion in 2008, fell to $32.2 billion last month, a decrease of 16 percent from July, as the government converted foreign currency into rubles to cover the deficit.

    Empire Questing by brute force or proxies very expensive these days and can’t continue– thanks tosanctions, stubborn resistance by those targeted, direct costs and the need to update military with a Italy-sized economy. Two-thirds of Russia’s wealth is concentrated among millionaires, which shows how most Russians get suckered by nationalism and dreams of old, out-of-date em[ores/

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/0b6c116b-e0a7-3f8e-bcd8-3eb7e5bfaee8/oil-rich-russia-taps-into.html

  6. Now that regime is going on the offensive against rebels now would be the time for rebels to start preparing (ie organising resources, training the men in marksmanship and mortar/artillery techniques, digging two layers of trenches/berms/tunnels, rigging buildings and roads with IEDs, making sure rebels have at least a brigade of troops in reserve, training machine guns how to do interlocking fire etc) for the regime offensive. The biggest mistake the rebels made after breaking the siege the first time round was to bother with Huwayz instead of pushing eastwards towards Harbel.

    • @K9. I’d disagree with you somewhat. The regime reinforcements in Southern Aleppo hurt the rebels more than the regime in Western Aleppo city. The regime were able to regain fire control from the south. My #1 strategy is what I think the rebels wanted to do the first time around. Break the siege further south. I don’t have a lot to back it up but I think the rebels broke the siege at Ramouseh simply because the offensive there had more success than the offensives further south.

  7. Been seeing the comments last few days about Eastern Aleppo being besieged again. Had a few thoughts.

    1. Initially, a goal of the offensive was to draw lots of regime and allied troops to Aleppo and Southern Aleppo. This goal worked as the regime and allies brought up lots of troops and armor to Southern Aleppo to counter the rebel offensive. It’s obvious that much of this came from Hama.

    2. After the regime brought reinforcements and rebel progress was stifled after lifting the siege. The rebels launched the big offensive on Northern Hama. One of the main objectives was to get the regime to withdraw troops to Northern Hama. This obviously didn’t work as the regime/allies stuck to their offensive in Southern Aleppo and Ramouseh.

    3. However, the rebels did capture a huge chunk of territory in Northern Hama and a number of weapons. These towns appear to have been mostly defended by militias who did not put up much of a fight. I heard that Jaish al-Izza only lost one person in the Northern Hama assault. I don’t think the regime wanted to give up all that territory but I also think the regime holding these sizable Sunni towns in Northern Hama would be difficult in the long run. The regime are now defending more defensible positions in the Mounts north of Hama and Qomhana. That being said, it was worth it for the rebels to launch the Northern Hama operation.

    4. For argument sake, let’s say the rebels did not choose to launch the offensive on Northern Hama and continued in Aleppo. I’m not sure the outcome would have been any better and long-term may have been worse. Surely, they would have held the corridor longer but the constant bombing and regime reinforcements were already stalling the rebel offensive when it was underway. The main thing I am critical of is the division in the rebel groups at a time like this, not the military strategy of Jaish al Fatah.

    5. What to do next in Aleppo? The Ramouseh military college is now practically a wasteland much like Castello Road. Probably very difficult to break the siege again in the same area. The siege will probably last longer than a month this time but the rebels are well equipped to hang on in Aleppo. I’ll list my ideas from my favorite to least favorite.

    a. Last time I mentioned this along with others. The rebels should have broken the siege further south and not at the artillery academy. This would require an assault on Tel Azzan and the surrounding area. Tough task but has many benefits as it has more foreign militias in the area and high points in which to maintain fire control over the surroundings.

    http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=36.092251&lon=37.192669&z=13&m=b&gz=0;370955085;360394524;269508;446833;671195;500935;1431655;470416;1376724;0;0;0;255775;482901;255775;482901&search=aleppo

    b. Break the siege in the urban areas north of the military colleges. Combined assaults from inside the city and outside. Fatah Halab would assault Ameria which they are doing now. Jaish al-Fatah would assault Hamdaniyah and hope to meet up. The supply route would go through a very built up area.

    c. Reopen the supply route through Ramouseh. Simply recapture Ramouseh Artillery college and the high points to the south.

    d. Get Turkey to help. Rebels in Northern Aleppo would break through to Al-Bab and continue on to Sheikh Najjar. If Turkey could help protect the flanks then these rebels would be free to launch an offensive. Besides the obvious part about the rebels still being a long way off. There is also the problem that this supply route would not connect with Idlib.

    e. Get some kind of an agreement with YPG in Sheikh Maskin. Break the siege at Castillo road again. A big downside is that this was never a great supply route to begin with as it doesn’t connect to Turkey. This requires getting the YPG to switch sides again which usually means making Assad the common enemy. Nothing brings two enemies to become friends more than another person they despise even more.

  8. It doesn’t matter if the rebels break the siege again. Ultimately, they can not hold ground due to the bombing. This is a real problem for the rebels. Anytime they take something, the regime( and really the ruskies ) will just turn it into rubble. The rebels need to do something dramatic, if they want to get out of the current cycle.

    I’ll be curious now to see what the Turks allow in to the rebels. Been a lot of rumors of supply cutoffs. I wonder if it matters, given the spoils of the artillery college.

    I think the purpose of all those suicidal assaults by the regime was to keep the rebel forces in place.

    • Haha, it turns out the preacher being slated is Sheikh Muyheseni’s Dad, but what is really being attacked is the Saud Wahhabi Establishment in general, an omen that Sisi will welsh on his loans if he is now turning the tightly controlled Egyptian media fire on them.

    • Who really give a shit what Damascus thinks? The regime is now a puppet of Russa & Iran and it matters more what those 2 think then some irrelevant leader of Alawite & criminal gangs/militias.

  9. Wonder if Soleimani who is said to be in Aleppo,has been given enough men to maybe make that push to Kafr Fua.Jihad sunnis will have burnt through a few K trying to hold that narrow corridor.Would be pointless excercise if could only open narrow corridor to k/f.Not enough food and supplies for towns people would get in.Depends how many Shia can be flown in daily perhaps.

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