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



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.
“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.