Saturday, August 6, 2016

Syrian Rebels Claim To Have Broken The Siege Of Aleppo

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BBC: Syria rebels 'break government siege' of Aleppo

Rebel factions in Syria say they have broken a weeks-long government siege of Aleppo, amid scenes of rejoicing in the the crucial northern city.

Sources close to government forces denied that they had been pushed aside and said they had driven the rebels back from an artillery base.

UK-based opposition activists say the rebels have indeed managed to link up with their comrades in eastern Aleppo.

But the rebels have so far failed to establish a secure route, they add.

Read more ....

More News On Syrian Rebel Claims That They Have Broken The Siege Of Aleppo

Intense fighting as Syrian rebels break through Aleppo siege -- Reuters
Syria rebels claim to have broken Assad regime's siege of Aleppo after more than 600 deaths during five days of bloody fighting -- Daily Mail
Syria militants try new attack to break Aleppo siege -- AP
Syrian Rebels Break Through Aleppo Siege -- WSJ
Syria opposition says rebels break siege of Aleppo -- Al Jazeera
Syrian rebels break through after three-week siege of Aleppo -- DW
Syria’s rebels unite to break Assad’s siege of Aleppo -- The Guardian
Syrian civil war: Islamist rebels claim to have broken siege of Aleppo -- The Independent
Rebels claim breakthrough in Aleppo -- Financial Times
Fighters work to break siege in southern Aleppo -- CNN
Rebel Forces Push To End Government Siege Of Northern Syria's Aleppo -- NPR
Syrian rebels say they broke the siege of Aleppo -- VICE News


RRH said...

IN this forth iteration of it's offensive, the Army of Conquest's Al Nusra (the remix), Jabhat Ansar al-Din, have broken through the SAA, Liwa Al Quds and Hezbollah defences at the Artillery School and the Technical College. The "rebels" claim they have subsequently opened a corridor through to their bretheren through the Ramouseh district thus breaking the SAA\allied siege and cutting off government held western Aleppo. The SAA disputes this and declares that the terrorists have been halted in the district and some of the Artillery School has been reclaimed.

This battle appears to be between the best of the best of both sides with Al Nusra/Jabhat Fateh Al Sham for the "rebels", and the government's Tiger Forces, with their T 90s, featuring prominently.

It appears that the "rebels" have thrown a significant amount of armour into this battle (one report states 92 pieces) as well as vbied suicide bombers. They have also taken heavy casualties, 300+ by some accounts.

The Russian airstrikes continue to pound "rebel" assembly areas while the SAA pours reinforcements into the area including elements of at least three armoured divisions.

Even if the "rebels" establish a corridor it is difficult to believe that it can be sustained. They are under constant air and artillery attack, while their armour is taking heavy attrition, with one source saying they have run through their '72s and are down to some '55s. This goes without mentioning their growing losses in manpower.

On the SAA/allied side, the loss of the Artillery School and the reports of booty in the form of weapons and ammunition is an all too familiar one. The abandonment of large caches of weapons to the enemy could arguably be as much help to the enemy as outside support. This being said, the SAA has proved time and again that it is able to retreat when necessary, allow artillery and air power to blast the terrorists,and retake territory when needed.

It appears both sides have decided this battle is decisive but in terms of staying/firepower the edge goes to the SAA and allies.

mlacix said...

Good summary RRH. However I still just cannot understand the rebel motivation fo this whole counter-operation. Whatever the rebels got into is a no-win situation for them. Yes they can achvie things in a very short term, such as capturing some building, but what does it matter? The area they choose to fight is the easiest to attack, and even they controlled this area before, and the Western part of SAA forces were encircled in the past already at least once for a longer time, and even back then SAA could recapture the areas. This area is not fit for defending it, because the S, SW sides of the city is wide open, and easy to cut it off.

But even if we step trough this, what is the main goal to break the siege if you can't hold the corridor? Evacuating from the city? Resuplie the city as much as possible before the corridor close? Making an offensive just to fight and kill the enemy? This operation has no goals, and rebels often get into such operations, and this kind of operations are the most damaging for themself. From SAA view this was not the worst, yes they had losses, but they dealth more damage, and their territorial losses could be fixed easily, and meanwhole SAA successfully advanced on the Northern side of the city. Upcoming days will be interesting, we will see how it turns out.

RRH said...

Good questions.

The motivations could be as such:

After the diagreements between local groups -Fatah Halab- and Ahrar al Sham over the failed battles to re-open the Castello road, a strategy featuring organization and "winable" battles was needed. The southwest, while vulnerable to SAA counter attack, does not feature nearby Kurds (who launched an attack in the north during the Castello road debacle). The artillery school was also the site of SAA artillery positions and the spoils that come with capturing them.

It seems that this may also be a largely political affair. As mentioned earlier, the locals were less than impressed with the idea of following orders our of Idlib. This may be Ahrar al Sham's way of saying "look, we care about Aleppo too but what you were doing in the north wasn't helping anyone but the enemy. Let's try something new in the south, which may bear fruit". The al Nusra name change foils nicely here too (my cantankerous "whatevers" aside) as it shows that the commitment to the national/local cause by the best fighters is there.

RRH said...

Hitting the artillery school especially has a moral boosting effect as it was the sight of the 1979 massacre of Alawi cadets by the M.B. The "rebels" apparently include leadership who are related to the '79 leader,Ibrahim el-Youssef. The M.B.'s actions lead to a siege of Allepo and the Hama massacre. For people who are steeped in history and more than likely had/have relatives from that time, this would provide a powerful unifying motive.

The Government and allies are also highly invested in the fate of Aleppo. Any defeat suffered by them there, however temporary or circumstantial, must be of great interest to the Salafis. Damascus has a bad habit of tooting its horn prematurely during operations. The Russian media, especially the foreign directed RT and Sputnik, suffer from the same malady. So, this offencive may be seen as a way to throw pie in the face of some very loud actors. It has been noted that the Russians are VERY reluctant to commit attack helicopters to the battle due to the Jihadi MANPAD threat and the attendant propaganda nightmare they present.

The terrain may not be the best all around to make this push, but it may be the best of bad options.

The outside sponsor element cannot be ignored either. Without outside assistance, we would not be watching video of well equipped fighters storming SAA posions. This offensive could be in effect a sending up of a flare to sponors such as the Qataris. It was, after all, Qatar who pushed Al Nusra to "leave" al Qaeda and focus on the fight in Syria and greater unity with the other anti Gov. groups. The battle, and subsequent tactical victories are making a statement that the desires of sponsors have been taken into account; continued aid should be a given. There is also no doubt that "the west", despite all its ho humming about "terrorists" this and "re-branding" that, are keenly interested in Salafi victories - recent MSM coverage of the battle quite clearly displays who "the west" is supporting. We should expect the cheering on of "rebel" victories to transform to howls for "humanitarian" ceasefire when the offensive bogs down due to attrition and heavy air attacks on the Salafi logistical train.

Back to the ground,
there could be a numer of things happening right now in the 2+ km Ramouseh corridor. Supplies, fighters may be being funneled into besieged east Aleppo, forces could be being funneled out (highly unlikey),consolidation/fortification with tunnels, ieds etc --very difficult given SAA artillery observation and close air but certainly possible -- I lean toward the first assessment and the tunnels, especially given that SAA and allied forces, including 2000+ Harakat Hezbollah fighters, are being rushed to the area to slam the door shut. There is no way Al Sham Operations Command doesn't know what is coming just as there is no way any part of Aleppo will be abandoned. It's just too damned important to the "rebels" -- and it may end up being their Stalingrad.

On that note, watching the Salafis in Aleppo reminds me of Adolph Hitler's statement to General Paulus that "every day Sixth Army holds out helps our situation all along the Eastern Front".

RRH said...

And now we're seeing The Army of Conquest display hubris of its own with statements of further planned attacks in the south and north.

We'll see....