News Dump Tuesday: War Update Edition
Submitted by gjohnsit on Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:15pm
Syrian government forces regained control Saturday of areas they lost over the past two weeks to a rebel offensive on the edge of the northern city of Aleppo, ending a major attempt by insurgents to break the siege on eastern parts of the city, an activist group and pro-government media said...
“The epic battle for Aleppo has failed,” said the Observatory’s chief Rami Abdurrahman, using the term that the insurgents had assigned to the offensive...
On Thursday, Jan Egeland, the special adviser to the U.N. envoy for Syria, said the last food rations in besieged eastern Aleppo will run out by next week. Speaking in Geneva, Egeland said the last time the more than 250,000 people inside east Aleppo received any humanitarian aid was in the beginning of July. Residents and activists in besieged east Aleppo have spoken of rising prices of food products due to the siege.
Syrian rebels backed by Turkey were poised to begin an assault to try to drive Islamic State from the Syrian city of al-Bab, two of their commanders said on Monday, a battle that could also prompt new fighting with Kurdish groups that are competing for the area...
Al-Bab is fast becoming a major faultline in the war in northern Syria, bringing Free Syrian Army rebels backed by Turkish armor closer than ever to frontlines held by the Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian allies in nearby Aleppo...
Al-Bab is located 30 km (19 miles) south of Syria's border with Turkey and the same distance from Aleppo, meaning its capture could help rebels to advance against pro-government forces besieging their comrades inside the city.
"God willing with the capture of al-Bab, we will be on the outskirts of the (Aleppo) industrial zone and the outskirts of the Kweiras air port, and the outskirts of the infantry college, meaning in direct contact with the regime," the rebel commander, who declined to be identified, said.
However, allies of the Syrian government late last month warned Turkey against an advance towards their positions to the north and east of Aleppo, saying any such move would be met "decisively and with force".
The Syrian government is backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Lebanon's Hezbollah and other Shi'ite militia.
Al-Bab also sits between two Kurdish-ruled enclaves and its capture would thwart Kurdish ambitions to join them, something some Syrian Kurds regard as necessary to advance their goal of protecting Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria.
The Syrian Arab component of forces attacking Raqqa have withdrawn from operations, declaring Kurdish forces had broken an agreement to allow them to lead the charge into the Islamic State (IS) group-held city.
In a statement released only days after the "Euphrate's Wrath" offensive began, Liwa Thuaar Raqqa (Raqqa revolutionary brigade) said it would no longer fight alongside the Kurdish YPG militia....
Turkey has previously expressed alarm that the SDF is dominated by the YPG, and an influx of Kurds into Raqqa would change its demographics.
Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which it considers a terrorist group.
It has vowed to fight it in northern Syria, and warned it could act if Raqqa, an Arab-majority city, is taken by Kurdish forces.
The Iraqi army launched an operation a fortnight ago seen as the first step in retaking Mosul from Islamic State. Troops logged multiple victories within hours.
Now, there is little talk among military officials of an imminent push on Iraq’s second-largest city.
Days after the offensive began, the army became bogged down just outside the northern town of Makhmour, confronted by up to 200 Islamic State fighters in a village on high ground called al-Nasr, according to US officials.
Yesterday, it was still struggling to take the small village after more than a week of trying.
Any claim of cohesion within the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria, is clearly falling apart today, as two factions, both of them flying FSA flags, fought one another in a pitched battle over the city of Azaz, north of Aleppo.
Both of the FSA factions involved as Turkish-backed groups, with the Levant Front FSA fighters clashing with the Ahrar al-Sham FSA forces in Azaz, a valuable border crossing into neighboring Turkey. Ahrar al-Sham forces reported seized several checkpoints in the fighting.
Indeed, the Levant Front was losing so much ground that according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights they had to withdraw a number of their fighters from an anti-ISIS offensive in nearby al-Bab, to bring them back to Azaz to fight the other FSA forces.
Fighting amongst rebel factions in Syria is nothing new, of course, but to see two groups both flying the FSA banner, both taking part in Turkey’s anti-ISIS push, and both taking time out of their busy schedule to fight one another is extremely irregular.
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