In Rare Victory, Syrian Army breaks ISIL siege of West Aleppo

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The extensive Russian bombing campaign in support of the Syrian Arab Army of the Bashar al-Assad regime has yielded fewer victories than Moscow had hoped, and some of them have been reversed by al-Qaeda, ISIL or other fighters. But on Wednesday it was reported that the SAA made a strategic breakthrough when it wrested back control from Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) of an important route allowing resupply of regime-controlled western Aleppo and linking it to the cities of Hama and Homs to the south. Daesh took control of villages overlooking the road in early October and cut the regime-held half of Syria’s largest city off from resupply. The army took Khanaser and Ithriya, the towns through which the road went.

Before the war, Aleppo was a city of 4 million, leading journalists to say that the regime-held west has a population of 2 million. But many people have left the city, which has been divided between the SAA and rebels for years. East Aleppo is held by a patchwork of rebel movements. Some of it is held by the Army of Conquest, a Salafi hard line coalition that includes al-Qaeda. But other neighborhoods in the east are held by local militias or units of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The leftist Lebanese newspaper al-Safir reports that the army is attempting to open the road completely and to control about 7 miles on either side of it, and that a bomb defusing unit is removing dozens of roadside bombs left behind by Daesh.

Meantime, a food convoy is making its way to West Aleppo, after 13 days of siege by Daesh. As a result, prices in the enclave abruptly fell substantially. It is also expected that electricity will be restored (West Aleppo has been dark for the two weeks of the siege). Likewise, water service has been interrupted and will be restored.

The army now aims to relieve the military airport at Kaweiris in the north of Aleppo, having destroyed Daesh fortifications in the village of Shaikh Ahmad less than two miles from the airport, which has been surrounded for 3 years. They also have their eye on the village of al-Hadir, the gate to Aleppo.

Daesh launched a fierce attack on the pivotal village of Shaikh Hilal in the outskirts of Hama, with the battle ongoing.

At the same time, the Syrian Arab Army has surrounded the district of al-Waar in Homs (south of Hama), the last part of that city still to be in the hands of rebel fighters. A UN delegation visited the district on Wednesday, and were thought to be negotiating the exit from the quarter of rebel fighters there. The regime was able to put pressure on al-Waar because of its successes in retaking surrounding villages. Before the war, Homs was a city of about a million. Most of it is now in regime control, but reconquering it with tanks and artillery turned much of it into rubble.

The remaining rebel corridor north of Homs consists of three villages through which arms and ammunition come down from Turkey via Idlib Province, and it is being disrupted by an internecine battle for control of these villages between al-Qaeda in Syria (the Support Front) and a local militia, Bayada Matyrs. Al-Qaeda accuses BM of having pledged allegiance to Daesh, though the militia denies it. But other groups also accuse it of being Daesh.

The relief of West Aleppo is an important development. If the SAA (with its Iranian and Russian allies) can keep this supply route open,

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Related video:

PressTV: “Exclusive: Syria army reopens Aleppo road ”

9 Responses

  1. One piece of information on Homs. Most of the city is not
    destroyed. I visited twice last year. The old city is badly
    bashed up and Baba Amr is very seriously damaged. When
    I went in April and June 2014, the university was working
    normally and traffic was heavy. Residents of the old city
    had begun to clear up and move in in June.
    Regards, Michael

  2. It would appear that the Russians are eliminating one set of terrorists for another group of terrorists, thus making them partners with the bombing campaign by the West. We have a demonstration here in London today against our government, but I bet they won’t suddenly have automatic rifles, RPGs shoulder mounted missiles etc, as the demonstrators in Syria and Libya suddenly acquired when they had a demo. That’s because unlike Syria and Libya who were armed by Obama, Cameron, fool William Hague and Hollande of France, The London demonstrators don’t have any warmongers to arm them. The complaint against Assad is that he is unelected and so must go. It just so happens that the Queen of England (our head of state) is unelected and Cameron only has one third of the votes of the British people. 60% of the voters voted against him! The British demonstrators are being called scum and low life by the media and internet posters, but its not a question of what might be right or wrong, its what the ‘establishment see as their agenda and the press and media follow them like sheep. Demonstrators don’t just acquire war munitions out of the blue, they are supplied by war criminals intent on fermenting terror and ultimate subjugation of the population.

  3. Hardly a rare victory. In fact since Russia became involved, it’s actually ISIS that has had rare victories.

    Depending on the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” as all Western media does, is somewhat silly. It consists of one man in a semi-detatched house in Coventry, UK, financed by the propagandistic Atlantic Council and with no special access to Syrian information whatsoever, apart from a couple of acquaintances there and what he picks up on the internet. Very much like Elliot Higgins (Bellingcat) Who is followed slavishly by Western media on the Ukraine situation, but works from a small office in Lincoln, also financed by the Atlantic Council, and spouts off about Ukraine with zero credibility, and provable dishonsty .

    Cheers.

  4. while reading i was already wondering if i might have been misinformed by those well informed guys on twitter like peto lucem, but when watching a few seconds it became already clear that the error if we may call it so came from your side. The video was published on november the 4th and states that the road was occupied by isis for 12 days, but you claim in your article it was closed since “early october” by meddling it with their gains of nearby villages. it’s simply wrong.

  5. Now that the SAA has secured their supply route to Aleppo the next step must be to repay the favour to the rebels i.e. cut the rebel resupply routes coming down from Turkey.

    The SAA can’t do that themselves, but there is someone who can: the Kurdish YPG, who are itching to close the gap between Kobane and the Kurdish enclave at Afrin.

    They aren’t willing to make that move yet, because:
    a) The USA insists that the YPG strike south towards Raqqa, and
    b) The Turks are rattling their sabers and threatening to bomb the YPG if it makes a move towards Afrin.

    The Kurds therefore need an assurance that if they do make that move then someone – and I’m sure they don’t care who it is – will keep the Turkish airforce off their back.

    The USA is unwilling to do that, and at this moment the Russians aren’t in a position to offer that protection.

    But they soon will be. Keweiris airbase is perfectly positioned to throw a protective umbrella over YPG forces operating between Kobane and Afrin.

    That’s why the push to relieve the siege of Keweiris is being pressed so very hard, and why the Kurdish YPG isn’t doing anything except sit on its hands i.e the Russians have struck a secret deal with the Kurds, along the lines of “when we take Keweiris you then strike towards Afrin, and we’ll keep the Turks from interfering”.

    That’s also why Obama has made the otherwise-inexplicable announcement that he is sending 50 Special Forces dudes to YPG HQ – he has wind of that deal, and he hopes that US SF eyes inside YPG headquarters will spike that deal.

    • interesting speculation. but before they cut off isis they will most likely disrupt the “moderates” entrance to syria north of aleppo. the moderates are a bigger threat to the saa and destroying one of their important supply lines will damage their logistics and therefore weaken their fighting capacity. In general i agree, that kuweires would be nice for airsupport in northern syria, especially since flying from aleppo airport could be a bit risky. those 50 dudes are a risky manoeuvre, too and i dont see why they would announce their deployment just too monitor the kurds, since the cia, already has their sources there for sure. Still they will probably cooperate, but dont expect too much, the kurds still want their state, and if they can grab much territory from isis they would have a better bargain in the “political solution”, therefore russia would not backstab damascus and provide airsupport for a widespread kurdish offensive. since you seem quite interested this map could help you with your theorizing link to militarymaps.info i would actually recommend it for juan cole too.

  6. Cool, I think Russia is now the most important player in the Mideast, all thanks to W! After decades of being iced out, they now will be the heroes that killed ISIS as a ground controlling entity, Unfortunately, our fate is sealed as an evil empire- Hijacked by crazed religious fascists, crumbling under our own weight and sins and the terrorists we created, all combining to steal what is left of what made us America.

    • Nick I think the Russians are a long, long way from victory in Syria.

      I’m glad we are sitting this one out. Thank God for BHO.

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