Syrian Rebels Mount Fresh Offensive on Aleppo

Allied rebel forces broke (NYT) a weeks-long government siege on Aleppo, advancing into the city’s southwest. The rebels seized a government artillery school, tentatively opened a road to rebel-held parts of the city, and cut the supply routes (FT) to government-held districts. Syrian government troops, backed by Russian air power, had encircled the rebel-controlled eastern part of the city last month. Damascus denied the recent gains by the rebels and released footage of air bombardments (BBC) on Monday. Hundreds of fighters and additional military equipment for both regime and rebel forces are said to have arrived in Aleppo (AFP).


“Aleppo is Syria’s most important centre of civil activism. It houses revolutionary councils and emergency healthcare projects, independent newspapers and radio stations, theatre groups and basement schools. Despite years of barrel bombs and scud missiles, 300,000 people remain in the liberated zone. The fall of Aleppo certainly wouldn’t end the war, but it would probably mark the final defeat of the revolution. A few days ago it seemed this course of events was inevitable. Almost every relevant local, regional and global power was working to ensure it,” writes Robin Yassin-Kassab in the New Arab.

“In the two weeks following the encirclement of eastern Aleppo, at least 99 civilians, including 25 children, have been killed, with the majority of the victims dying due to the aerial attacks, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. The airstrikes showed no signs of stopping or slowing down, so residents of eastern Aleppo began burning tires in hopes of confusing government and Russian aircraft. The movement has resonated strongly with the residents of Aleppo, said Shamy, and civilians of all ages are participating,” writes Hiba Dlewati in Syria Deeply.

“In Russia’s calculation, a besieged Aleppo could be far more valuable than an Assad-controlled one, both strategically and diplomatically. As long as a zero-sum fight for the city continues, Moscow plays a key role in the negotiations. All other issues, including Assad’s future in Syria, are pushed to the back burner because Aleppo is perceived as a stronghold of the opposition and its fall would symbolize the victory of Damascus, or, according to some experts, the end of the opposition movement against Assad altogether,” writes Yury Barmin in Al-Monitor.