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CONFIRMED: Syrian army resumes advance in Aleppo

Following end of ‘humanitarian pause’ Syrian army resumes attack on Jihadis in south west suburbs of Aleppo.

Alexander Mercouris

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Though inevitably it has been overshadowed by the US election, the situation on the ground in Syria continues to develop with further advances by the Syrian army being reported on all the fronts in western Syria in which it is engaged.

In the key battle ground of Aleppo the Syrian army, having repulsed the latest attack by the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis, appears to be preparing for a major advance in south west Aleppo. 

Following the end of Friday’s ‘humanitarian pause” – which as expected the Jihadis ignored – the Syrian air force has been back in action, bombing Jihadi positions in south west Aleppo.   The Syrian army has also made inroads in the strategically important 1060 apartment complex (the very latest reports suggest it may have captured it entirely). 

There are also reports – so far unconfirmed – that the Russian Aerospace Forces have been in action again, attacking Jihadi positions in south west Aleppo in conjunction with the Syrian air force (the Russian Defence Ministry is however denying reports that the Russian Aerospace Forces have been in action against Jihadi supply lines west of the Aleppo battlefront in Al-Qaeda controlled Idlib province).

The Syrian army’s Chief of Staff – Lt. General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub – has recently inspected Syrian army positions in Aleppo, apparently in preparation for the offensive, and the Iranian news agency Fars is reporting that it will take place within the next few days.

The Syrian army’s battle strategy in Aleppo is dictated by one overriding factor – its lack of any decisive numerical advantage over the Jihadis it is fighting.

According to the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura there are 8,000 Jihadis trapped inside eastern Aleppo (though he claims absurdly that only 900 of them are Al-Qaeda connected Jabhat Al-Nusra fighters).  According to Russian, Syrian and Iranian news agency reports, around 16,000 Al-Qaeda led Jihadis attacked south west Aleppo during the last two Jihadi counter offensives.  That would make for a total of 24,000 Jihadi fighters fighting the Syrian army in and around Aleppo during the recent fighting.

No similar breakdown of the total number of Syrian and allied troops in Aleppo has ever been provided, save that a few weeks ago there were reports that 8,000 Shia militia for Iraq had joined the Syrian troops there.  A Daily Telegraph report in September however put the number of Syrian troops in Aleppo at about 15-20,000. 

It seems therefore that the two opposing forces fighting in Aleppo have roughly equal numbers.  If the highest estimates for the number of Jihadis (24,000) and the lowest estimates for the number of Syrian troops (15,000) are both true, then it is not impossible that the total number of Jihadi fighters fighting in and around Aleppo actually outnumbers the total number of Syrian and allied troops fighting there.

Compare this situation with the one in Mosul, where US intelligence claims that there are between 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters in Mosul itself supplemented by a further 1,500 to 2,000 ISIS fighters in a zone outside the city, pitted against a coalition force consisting of Iraqi troops and anti-ISIS forces whose total number is put at anywhere between 40,000 to 100,000.

It is this lack of a decisive manpower advantage that explains the incremental strategy the Syrian army has been obliged to follow in Aleppo.  Quite simply, the Syrian army has never had the numbers to storm eastern Aleppo in a single operation.  Its strategy, undoubtedly planned with the help of the Russians and the Iranians, has instead been to advance to its goal step by step: first by re-opening and securing its supply lines to government controlled western Aleppo, and then by isolating the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo until their position becomes so untenable that they can put up little resistance when the Syrian army eventually attacks them. 

What that means in practice is a strategy of first surrounding the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo, then of repulsing Jihadi counter-offensives to break the siege of eastern Aleppo, whilst at the same time pursuing a strategy of continuously recapturing more and more of the countryside around Aleppo in order to isolate even further the Jihadi controlled pocket in eastern Aleppo to the point where it loses all connection to its hinterland.

It is the Syrian army’s steady recapture of the surrounding villages and strong points in the Aleppo countryside which explains why each successive Jihadi counter offensives is having diminishing success.  As the Jihadi fighters during the intervals between their offensives incrementally lose positions in the Aleppo countryside, they lose the bases from which they launch their attacks.  As a result their attacks are increasingly failing to gain traction.

In time, as eastern Aleppo becomes completely isolated, the expectation is that cut off from all hope of supply or reinforcement it will fall easily into the Syrian army’s hands like a ripe fruit when the moment comments for it to be stormed. 

That is the strategy.  What it involves in practice is gruelling attritional warfare, with long pauses – which the Syrians and the Russians make use of politically by calling them ‘ceasefires’ and ‘humanitarian pauses’ – as each side replenishes and consolidates in preparation for the next round.

The planned Syrian offensive in south western Aleppo is a continuation of this strategy.  It is in this area that the Syrian army is most vulnerable since it is there that its main supply lines to southern Syria are located. 

By gradually driving the Jihadis away from this area the Syrian army is not only securing its main supply lines, but it is further isolating the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo by reducing the prospects of a Jihadi breakthrough there.

Ultimately, since there is little to no prospect of the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo ever giving up, the area will eventually have to be stormed.  However until its positions in south west Aleppo are fully secured, the Syrian army is not in a position to do this.

The fighting in western Syria is of course not only confined to Aleppo. 

Reports of the fighting elsewhere speak of the Syrian army making rapid advances.  In recent months it has cleared most of the countryside around Damascus of Jihadi fighters, with just a few pockets of resistance left in eastern Ghouta, whilst the Syrian army is now reported to control 85% of the territory of Hama province. 

As I have discussed previously, the Jihadis’ transfer of fighters from other Syrian fronts to Aleppo is causing their positions elsewhere in western Syria to collapse.

As to why the Jihadis are doing that, it was recently again explained by no less a person than Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, who the Iranian Fars news agency reports as saying

“If we succeed, having won Aleppo, which I’m sure we will do, the West will have to rethink its mistake.”

In other words if the Syrian army recaptures Aleppo any possibility of regime change in Damascus is gone.  For that reason that the Jihadis in Aleppo will hold on in eastern Aleppo at any cost, even if by doing so they are hastening their eventual defeat in the war.

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Via RT


Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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