Here’s a look at an airstrike map which delineates bombing runs by date, thus giving you an idea of the extent to which the Russians targeted Aleppo last week to soften up the rebels ahead of the offensive:
As Russian fighters destroyed Al Qaeda and ISIS positions around Aleppo, Obama decided to rearmed Al Qaeda terrorists…I mean “moderate” Syrian rebels.
Rebels battling the Syrian army and its allies south of Aleppo say they have received new supplies of U.S.-made anti-tank missiles from states that oppose President Bashar al-Assad since a major government offensive began there on Friday.
Rebels from three Free Syrian Army-affiliated groups contacted by Reuters said new supplies had arrived since the start of the attack by the army backed by Iranian fighters and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
A number of rebel groups vetted by states opposed to Assad have been supplied with weapons via Turkey, part of a program supported by the United States and which has in some cases included military training by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Syrian pro-regime forces backed by Russian airstrikes have expanded their ground offensive to the strategic city of Aleppo, one of the clearest signs yet of how Russia’s recent military intervention has emboldened President Bashar al-Assad and his loyalists.
In the bitterly fought multi-sided war, Aleppo is among the most coveted prizes. Losing partial control of the city, which was once Syria’s largest and its commercial capital, was an embarrassment to the regime. But with the backing of Russian warplanes, Iranian forces and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, Mr. Assad’s forces could now be in position to regain large parts of the city and the surrounding countryside.
“I suspect Assad always wanted to take back Aleppo because it is such an important city and retaking it has such strategic and symbolic importance,” said Emile Hokayem, a Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based military and security think tank. “And it would deny the rebels a foothold in any major city.”
Since Friday, the regime has netted a number of villages on the southern outskirts of the city and thousands of civilians are fleeing fighting in the area. On Sunday, the regime captured one additional village and U.S.-backed rebels destroyed two regime tanks using American-supplied weapons as they tried to stem the regime’s progress.
The regime appears to be advancing westward toward the strategic highway linking Aleppo with the capital Damascus, rebels said.
In a rare move, the offensive is being led by regime-allied Iranian fighters,according to Ahmad al-Ahmad, a spokesman for the moderate Islamist rebel group Faylaq al-Sham, which is involved in the battles.
The city of Aleppo is now divided in two, with an array of rebel factions controlling the eastern half and the regime holding the western half.
The regime’s ground offensives over the past two weeks have been led by fighters and military advisers from Iran and forces from Hezbollah, supplemented by Syrian security forces.
So far the battles in Aleppo are concentrated in the southern countryside on multiple fronts pushing toward the crucial highway that links the city with the coastal province of Latakia and the central provinces such as Hama, rebels said.
One of the goals of the offensive could be to prevent rebel reinforcements from Aleppo being sent to help fighters along other fronts. Rebels also report an amassing of pro-regime forces elsewhere in Aleppo province that could be aimed at cutting off the rebel supply route from Turkey.
Such moves could severely weaken the array of rebel forces in Aleppo, which include Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham and al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front as well as U.S.-backed rebels.
And finally, Zerohedge once again sums up the battle about to take place, which is a proxy war between Syria and the very Al Qaeda guys who once upon a time attacked NYC…
Note how shockingly close this is to an actual shooting war between the US/NATO and the Iran-Russia “nexus.”
CIA-trained rebels are now using weapons supplied by the US to kill Iranian soldiers backed by Russian airstrikes. The fact that the ground invasion is now clearly run by Iran and Hezbollah means that one side of the “rebels vs. SAA” proxy label has been removed. This is now “rebels vs. Iran and Russia“, meaning there’s literally but one degree of separation from an outright NATO vs. Russia-Iran armed conflict. And don’t forget: the nation through which the US is suppliying the rebels at Aleppo (i.e. Turkey) just shot down a Russian drone.
And so, as we wait to see whether the US will finally step in on behalf of its proxy armies before they are routed in the most critical battle yet in the war for Syria, we leave you with a few still shots taken over the weekend in Aleppo.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.