On October 18, Putin halted Russian aerial operations against eastern Aleppo terrorists – while continuing to provide Syrian forces with intelligence and logistical support.
After several days of fierce fighting, terrorists failed to break through government forces encircling them. They remain trapped under siege, able to leave safely through Russian established humanitarian corridors if they cease fighting.
So far they refuse, holding thousands of area residents hostage as human shields – perhaps mobilizing for another offensive.
Syrian forces strengthened their ranks. Elite Tiger troops, Liwa Suqour al-Sahra Special Forces and Desert Hawks commandos are involved, aided by attack helicopters, missile systems, and sophisticated Russian-made T90 tanks – in place to repel further terrorist attacks.
A Russian naval battle group led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, carrying Su-33 warplanes and Ka-31 attack helicopters, will arrive near Syria’s coast by Friday. Three Russian submarines armed with cruise missiles reportedly are accompanying it.
On Tuesday, reports from Aleppo indicated Syrian forces blocked US-supported terrorists from reaching Al-Bab in northeastern Aleppo. Several villages north of the city were liberated. Heavy clashes continue around the 1070 Apartment Project and elsewhere.
According to Syrian army al-Mahavir Battalion commander Mohannad Haaj, Washington OK’d use of toxic chemicals (believed to be chlorine gas), delivered by shelling civilians and government forces in parts of Aleppo they control – so far one reported death and dozens hospitalized.
Moscow State University Political Science Professor/co-chairman of the National Strategic Council of Russia Sergei Markov believes a decisive battle to liberate Aleppo looms, saying:
“I think that the Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers…discussed the…issue during their recent meeting in Moscow. I believe that the operations to regain Aleppo will kick off on November 7 or 8 before Obama leaves power, and it will be a blow to the US president by Vladimir Putin before (his) departure.”
An unnamed Western intelligence source believes Russia is “on the brink of a major military assault on Aleppo.”
If so, expect resumption of aerial operations, suspended for 16 days – a November surprise, coinciding with American elections when US public attention awaits their results.