By: Jennifer Cafarella (ISW) – 25 Oct 2016
Syrian armed opposition groups are preparing a counteroffensive to break the siege of Aleppo for a second time since the regime initially imposed a siege on July 28, 2016. Russia instituted a “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo City from October 17-23 and ceased airstrikes on opposition-held areas of the city. Russia and the Syrian regime called on acceptable opposition groups and civilians to evacuate the city’s besieged eastern districts through six “corridors“. Opposition groups rejected the offer, equating it to a “surrender” to the Syrian regime, and continued their preparations for an offensive to break the siege. The Jaysh al Fatah coalition, an alliance of opposition groups under the leadership of Jabhat Fatah al Sham – al Qaeda’s successor in Syria – and Syrian Salafi-jihadi group Ahrar al Sham, will lead the counteroffensive.
MESOP FLASH “A HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ACTUAL CALL – Call for Inquiry Into Killing of Civilians by Airstrike
25 Oct 2016 – Human Rights Watch has called for an investigation into last Friday’s apparent airstrike, killing at least 13 people and wounded, on the women’s section of a Shia mosque.
The strike on the town of Daquq came as Islamic State fighters launched bomb and gun attacks inside the nearby city of Kirkuk. Daquq’s residents said they heard planes flying overhead just before the bombing. The US denied responsibility. Iraqi Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the Joint Military Command, said the Iraqi government is investigating. He declined to say whether Iraqi or US-led coalition planes were flying in the area at the time of the explosion. www.mesop.de
October 25 – eaworldview – Alaa Nassar, Kholoud Ahmad, Osama Hamidi, and Madeline Edwards of Syria Direct report:
Fatima, pregnant and nearing her delivery date, is starting to worry. When a Russian airstrike reportedly destroyed the only clinic in the 19-year-old’s hometown of Latamneh in rural northern Hama Province last Saturday, she and other residents — many of them women and children—were left with nowhere to turn for professional medical care.
By Jamie Dettmer – 2016-10-25 – (VOA) — Fierce clashes broke out this weekend in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, hours after a three-day cease fire ended with Russian and Syrian government warplanes launching waves of airstrikes and rebel militias targeting western districts held by Assad government troops with Grad rockets newly supplied by Gulf backers.
Syria Daily: Kerry to Lavrov — I Am Concerned About Russia’s Bombing of Aleppo
Reading some US-based analysts writing on #Aleppo & you’d think only JFS & Ahrar alSham existed. Bizarrely no mention of any other actors.
MESOP COMMENT : “POOR SALIH! CEMIL BAYIK (PKK) BLAMES THE EU / YOU ARE BLAMING BOTH RUSSIA & US – WE HAVE TOLD YOU FROM THE BEGINNING NOT TO TRUST ALL OF THEM – PUTIN WILL DO NOTHING FOR PYD/PKK
PYD blames Russia and US for Turkey attack on Syrian Kurds
24 Oct 2016 – The co-Leader of Syrian pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) lashed out at the U.S. and Russia for ‘giving green light to Turkey” in Ankara bombing Syrian Kurds.
MESOP TODAYS Opinions – Will Hillary Clinton deliver on her promise to ramp up U.S. involvement in Syria?
By Josh Rogin Global Opinions – October 23 Washington Post – Throughout the campaign, Hillary Clinton has pledged to ramp up U.S. action not only to fight the Islamic State, but also to end the Syrian civil war. If she does what she’s promising, the risky effort could engulf the first year of her presidency and test the limits of the United States’ reduced influence in the region. The question is whether she will follow through.
By Fabrice Balanche – Fabrice Balanche, an associate professor and research director at the University of Lyon 2, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute. – PolicyWatch 2713 – October 20, 2016
The strategically important Syrian Druze will not be won over unless they are cut off from Damascus, and even then they would need concrete assurances that international forces will protect them from hostile jihadists.Although Syria’s Druze are a relatively small minority community and have sought to avoid deeper involvement in the war, their strategic position in the mountainous southern region of Jabal al-Druze necessarily gives them leverage over those seeking to control the country’s future.
UPDATE 1545 GMT: The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) has declared that the Turkish State is waging a war on Kurds, appealing to “all democratic powers to escalate resistance against the Turkish occupation”.The KCK claimed that the AKP, the ruling Turkish party, has supported the Islamic State in the killing of thousands of people: “Turkey is majorly responsible for the ongoing annihilation war running in Syria because of its policies in Syria and the Middle East, aiming to undermine Rojava [Kurdistan] revolution.”
UPDATE 1530 GMT: The Turkish military says it has hit 70 Kurdish militia and 52 Islamic State targets in the past 24 hours.
The military said five Free Syrian Army fighters were wounded during attack to retake two villages northwest of al-Bab, the key ISIS-held town northeast of Aleppo. It did not say whether the villages are controlled by the Kurdish militia YPG or the Islamic State. It added that the YPG attacked the FSA south of Jarablus, killing two people.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Turkish-supported rebels launched an offensive against Kurdish militia on Friday, further complicating a four-way war in northwest Syria.
The rebel units — including the Free Syrian Army and backed by Turkish artillery — launched the assaults against the Kurdish YPG on a 12-km (7.5-mile) front near the villages of Bir as-Sabah and Umm Housh.The rebel assault began on Thursday with the capture of a few villages that were briefly taken by a YPG-allied Arab faction, Jaish al-Thuwar, from the Islamic State. Friday’s advance was southeast of the town of Tel Rifaat, captured by the YPG in February from the rebels. Earlier this week, FSA fighters promised to retake the town, giving the YPG 48 hours to withdraw.
Map by Yalla Souriya
Turkey carried out its first airstrikes, alongside shelling, of YPG positions on Wednesday. The Turkish military claimed that 160 to 200 Kurdish fighters were killed.On Friday, at least 90 Turkish rockets supported the offensive.
Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia — which leads the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria — as part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has fought Turkish forces for more than 30 years.The PYD accused the US, despite its backing of the SDF, of joining the Turkish-rebel attacks: “Informed sources confirmed that the Turkey-backed attacks on SDF positions today were supported by American officers.”
Rebels Try to Reverse Battle in Northwest
The YPG and rebels have clashed since last year, notably in the Sheikh Maqsoud area of Aleppo city.However, at the start of 2016 the YPG stepped up the battle with the capture of rebel territory in northern Aleppo Province, including Tel Rifaat. The Kurdish militia briefly threatened the important town of Azaz, on the Turkish-Syrian border, before Turkey stepped in with shelling.The Syrian opposition also accuses the YPG of aiding Russia and the Assad regime in the siege of opposition areas of Aleppo city, helping cut off the Castello road to the north in late July.
A few weeks later, Turkey intervened for the first time with airstrikes, tanks, and special forces alongside the rebels in northern Syria. The offensive quickly gained ground against the Islamic State, raising the prospect of an eventual battle for territory with the YPG as well as the Assad regime.Both Turkey and rebels have signaled their intention to capture al-Bab, an ISIS-held town northeast of Aleppo which is within 20 km (12.5 miles) of Kurdish frontlines and 10 km (6 miles) of regime positions.