Further reports of Syrian army advances suggest that the fighting in Aleppo may be drawing to an end with Jihadi resistance in eastern Aleppo close to collapse.
It seems that over the course of the day Syrian troops have recaptured two more districts west of Aleppo airport – Karam al-Jazmati and Karam al-Tarab – bringing them within 2 km of the Aleppo citadel in the centre of the city, which throughout the Syrian conflict has remained in the possession of the Syrian army, as a salient of the western section of the city which has always been under the Syrian army’s control.
Following these latest advances it is now confirmed that the Syrian army now controls more than half of the former Al-Qaeda controlled pocket of eastern Aleppo.
It seems that the Syrian army’s objective is to advance west from the districts it has just recaptured to the Aleppo citadel, slicing what is left of the Jihadi pocket once more in two.
At that point the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo will be forced to withdraw even further into the southern areas of their former pocket, which would however become so diminished in size as to be rendered increasingly indefensible.
On a subject which has been discussed on some of the recent threads in my previous articles about the fighting in Aleppo, there have been no significant supplies sent to the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis in eastern Aleppo since July, when the Syrian army cut the previously Jihadi controlled Castello road in the north of the city.
The hole the Jihadis punched through the Syrian lines in south west Aleppo in August was too small and too fiercely contested to send significant supplies to eastern Aleppo through it. That hole was anyway closed following the Syrian army’s offensive in early September. Since then the Jihadi pocket has become increasingly sealed off from the outside world and from any resupply.
As the pocket has grown smaller over the last few weeks the length of its perimeter has grown shorter, making it possible for the Syrian army to control it more tightly. The result is that with their every retreat the siege of the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo becomes closer, and it is now impossible for any supplies to reach them save with the Syrian army’s consent.
It is precisely because the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo are now cut off from resupply and reinforcement so that they cannot replace their losses in men, ammunition and equipment that they are increasingly unable to resist the Syrian army’s attacks. Their well known ruthlessness and fanaticism cannot substitute for this loss of reinforcements and supplies.
Though many of them are courageous and determined fighters, they are not supermen, and like all other fighters they are subject to normal human and physical constraints. The speed of their collapse over the last few days shows that they are now fighting beyond their physical limits. Inevitably this will take its toll on their morale, and we are likely to see more evidence of this (eg. increasingly large numbers of surrenders and suicides) over the next few days and weeks.
Though some bitter fighting doubtless remains to be done, it is now looking increasingly likely that the predictions that the siege of eastern Aleppo would drag on for several more months are going to turn out wrong.
With the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo left with the stark alternatives of either surrendering and quitting the city, or of dying where they stand, it looks increasingly likely as if the siege will be over, and the Jihadi pocket will be finally extinguished, before the New Year.