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Aleppo: Syrian Army gains momentum, hopes of armed gangs dwindle ~ Latest Military Events (+2Videos Eng/Fra)

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Syrian Arab Army’s rapid and successful takeover of the strategic town of Sfireh and nearby villages just to the south of Aleppo city has armed opposition visibly shaken.

For too long they’ve been complacent and overconfident that their control over much of Aleppo province was unchallengeable. But a number of significant factors have changed this calculus and proved to be a rude awakening.

This has hastened a shotgun wedding of several major Islamist factions fighting in Aleppo in the name of the Islamic Front as well as a call to arms and a lockdown in areas of the city they control.

A curfew was imposed, and the only crossing from opposition-held east Aleppo into the regime-held western part was pwemanently shut, which meant students couldn’t go to university and workers, especially civil servants, couldn’t get to their jobs. Residents of Aleppo now face the bizarre notion that to travel a few blocks from the east to the west of the city or vice versa, you had to travel about 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) down to Hama, then back up again through side roads and military routes, a journey of around 10 hours.

The rebels’ recent troubles started after Turkey tightened its border controls, particular after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) took over adjacent territory. They were exacerbated by internal fighting, with ISIS going after various rebel brigades like Asefet el-Shamal, Ghuraba el-Sham and Shuhada Bader, which significantly weakened the rebels in the northern countryside and threatened to ignite a full scale interfactional war. All these are contributing factors to the opposition’s string of defeats, but the most significant one — not much talked about — is the defection of former opposition fighters who helped the regime retake the strategic Mwasalat Haditha area.

This is what has armed opposition worried the most, and their paranoia increased when the military head of the powerful Liwa al-Tawhid brigades, Abdelkader al-Saleh, was killed along with several other commanders in a pinpoint regime airstrike at a meeting they were attending. The rebels initially blamed nearby villagers for giving away their coordinates and detained dozens for questioning.

Another very significant change on the ground is the local militia now fighting alongside the regime’s forces. This is a fairly new phenomenon in Aleppo. The new Quds militia in Aleppo, though, is different from the Defense Committees. It has almost all fighters drawn from local tribes and clans who inhabit southern towns such as Jibreen and the Nayrab refugee camp, where some Palestinians have also joined their ranks.

What this fresh offensive has meant in practical terms is that regime forces are now only a few kilometers from the opposition-held eastern edge of Aleppo city. A further push would see them inside the strategic area of Sakhur.

If they manage to take that, they effectively skewer and divide the rebel parts of the city, cutting them off from one another and from vital supply lines. It would also pave the way for them to push into the Sheikh Najjar industrial zone — latest reports indicate that this has begun — and the Masaken Hanano suburbs currently under ISIS control as well as the densely populated Sha’ar area, which is home to many of the rebel factions’ headquarters and bases.

No doubt, significant victories in Aleppo will strengthen the regime’s hand and give it more bargaining leverage as well as enabling it to make fewer concessions. In the past two days, the opposition seem to have regained some initiative, launching a fierce attack of their own on suburbs in west Aleppo toward the strategic Military Academy on the Damascus highway.

The looming battle for Aleppo is set to be a ferocious one, even by Syria’s vicious civil war standards. A major shift in power on the ground here may well change the course of the entire war and shape any future political settlements.

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FRA

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Latest Military Events

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  • Hama 2013-11-26

    Syrian Army targets sites of armed opposition in the town of Kafer-Nabbuda in Hama suburbs – no casualties reports.

  • Raqqa 2013-11-26

    Several sites in the 17 Division located in al-Tabaqa city in rural Raqqa sustained shelling with locally-made missiles fired by Uais al-Qurani Brigade.

  • Damascus Countryside 2013-11-26

    Bombardments have been carried out by Syrian Army on several positions of Harasta city of Damascus countryside, what resulted in the death and the injury of 23 fighters of the opposition.

  • Damascus 2013-11-26

    A booby-trapped car, driven by a suicide bomber, has been detonated near al-Sumariah Garage area of Damascus, what resulted in 10 victims and 30 injuries and heavy material damage.

  • Aleppo 2013-11-26

    Syrian Air Forces bombard strongholds of anti-government fighters in Deir Hafer town of Aleppo countryside, what resulted in material damage.

  • Aleppo 2013-11-26

    Fresh battles take place between Syrian Army and fighters in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Khan Touman town of Aleppo countryside and no casualties recorded thus far.

  • Daraa 2013-11-26

    Syrian Army renews bombarding centers of Free Army militia in Atman town of Daraa countryside.

  • Damascus 2013-11-26

    Many mortar shells have landed near Hameesh hospital in Masaken Barzeh area of Damascus, what resulted in injuries besides material damage.

  • Damascus Countryside 2013-11-26

    Syrian Air Forces renew bombarding strongholds of opposition fighters in Reema area in Yabroud city of Damascus countryside and reports about casualties.

  • Quneitra 2013-11-26

    Artillery bombardments carried out by Syrian Army on locations of Free Army militia in al-Rfeed and al-Hairan towns of al-Qunaiterah countryside, what resulted in casualties.

  • Aleppo 2013-11-25

    Fierce fighters take place between Syrian Army and Islamic battalions in the outskirts of al-Sferah town of Aleppo countryside, what resulted in casualties from both sides.

  • Daraa 2013-11-25

    Severe clashes occur between Syrian Army and Free army militia in the north of Atman town of Daraa countryside, along with artillery bombardments target many locations in the village.

  • Homs 2013-11-25

    Artillery bombardments carried out by Syrian Army have targeted many locations of anti-government fighters in al-Huson town of Homs countryside, what resulted in casualties.

  • Deir Al-Zour 2013-11-25

    Bombardments carried out by Syrian Army on strongholds of anti-government fighters in al-Senaa and al-Hweqa neighborhoods of Deir Ezzor city, what resulted in material damage.

  • Damascus Countryside 2013-11-25

    Syrian Air Forces target many locations of al-Islam army in al-Marjeh area in al-Ghoutah al-Sharqiah of Damascus countryside, what resulted in material damage.

  • Aleppo 2013-11-25

    “FSA” announces targeting Seif al-Daulag neighborhood of Aleppo city with homemade mortar shells because Syrian Army deploys in the neighborhood.

  • Damascus 2013-11-25

    Fresh artillery bombardments have been carried out by Syrian Army and locations of Free Army militia in Jobar neighborhood in the east of Damascus.

  • Damascus Countryside 2013-11-25

    Heavy battles continue between Syrian Army and factions of armed opposition in al-Qalamoun area of Damascus countryside, where fierce clashes take place on the outskirts of al-Nabek city and near the international road; media sources reported Syrian Army’s advancement in the city. On the other side, “FSA” battalions targeted brigade 18 in al-Qalamoun with Grad missiles. Moreover, on the northern front of al-Qalamoun, Syrian Air Forces hit strongholds of al-Nusra and ISIL north of Yabroud city.

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