Russia warns US against ‘direct aggression’
As the drums of war beat louder, following last week’s ultimatum by John Kerry that the US is contemplating a direct military intervention in Syria, including potentially sending US troops on the ground in the war-torn country for the first time, on Saturday Russia warned the US against carrying out any attacks on Syrian government forces, saying it would have repercussions across the Middle East. The warning comes as government forces captured a hill on the edge of the northern city of Aleppo under the cover of airstrikes.
It has been one year since Russia became officially involved in the Syria conflict. The maps below show zones controlled by different forces before Russian intervention in September 2015 and the situation .
The most obvious change is the collapse in territory controlled by ISIS, as well as the expansion of territories held by the Syrian regime, which is the biggest concern to the US, whose main directive in the Syrian conflict has been less to crush the Islamic State as to minimize the influence and territory of Assad’s regime, replacing it with US-controlled “rebel” forces.
And with Russia – long an ally to Assad as the conflict is fundamentally about Gazprom’s loss of influence over Europe should a Qatari natgas pipelines cross under Syria – having become the biggest hurdle to US strategy in Syria, there has been a notable shift in the US strategy, with western media slamming Russia’s “barbarous airstrikes“, focusing on recent bombing strikes of the rebel-held city of Aleppo, a repeat of US strategy from the summer of 2013 when a doctored “chemical attack” YouTube video was used to justify US presence in the local conflict.
In response, Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying that “U.S. aggression” against the Syrian army “will lead to terrible, tectonic consequences not only on the territory of this country but also in the region on the whole.”
She said regime change in Syria would create a vacuum that would be “quickly filled” by “terrorists of all stripes.”
As AP notes, U.S.-Russian tensions over Syria have escalated since the breakdown of a cease-fire last month, with each side blaming the other for its failure. Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes have launched a major onslaught on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo. Syrian troops pushed ahead in their offensive in Aleppo on Saturday capturing the strategic Um al-Shuqeef hill near the Palestinian refugee camp of Handarat that government forces captured from rebels earlier this week, according to state TV. The hill is on the northern edge of the Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former commercial center.
The al Qaeda-linked Ahrar al-Sham militant group said rebels regained control Saturday of several positions they lost in Aleppo in the Bustan al-Basha neighborhood. State media said 13 people were wounded when rebels shelled the central government-held neighborhood of Midan.
Adding to the propaganda, airstrikes on Aleppo struck a hospital in the eastern rebel-held neighborhood of Sakhour putting it out of service, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the same entity that created the infamous doctored 2013 YouTube video.
Opposition activist Ahmad Alkhatib described the hospital, known as M10, as one of the largest in Aleppo. He posted photographs on his Twitter account showing the damage including beds covered with dust, a hole in its roof and debris covering the street outside. A doctor at the hospital told the Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective, that thousands of people were treated in the compound in the past adding that two people were killed in Saturday’s airstrikes and several were wounded.
“A real catastrophe will hit medical institutions in Aleppo if the direct shelling continues to target hospitals and clinics,” said the doctor whose name was not given. He said the whole hospital is out of service.
In a familiar repeat of the 2013 media narrative, opposition activists have blamed the President Bashar Assad’s forces and Russia for airstrikes that hit Civil Defense units and clinics in the city where eastern rebel-held neighborhoods are besieged by government forces and pro-government militiamen.
On Friday, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders demanded that the Syrian government and its allies “halt the indiscriminate bombing that has killed and wounded hundreds of civilians_many of them children,” over the past week in Aleppo. “Bombs are raining from Syria-led coalition planes and the whole of east Aleppo has become a giant kill box,” said Xisco Villalonga, director of operations for the group. “The Syrian government must stop the indiscriminate bombing, and Russia as an indispensable political and military ally of Syria has the responsibility to exert the pressure to stop this.”
It said from Sept. 21 to 26, hospitals still functioning in Aleppo reported receiving more than 822 wounded, including at least 221 children, and more than 278 dead bodies_including 96 children_according to the Directorate of Health in east Aleppo. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom criticized attacks on civilian targets writing on her Twitter account: “Unacceptable to bomb civilians, children and hospitals in #Aleppo. No humanity. Assad & Russia moving further away from peace.”
Surprisingly, few if any in the western media have complained about the thousands of civilians killed by the US-backed Saudi bombing campaign in neighboring Yemen.
Meanwhile, according to leaked closed-door comments by US Secretary of State John Kerry it was revealed how angry John Kerry is about being unable to topple President Bashar Assad by military means.
The New York Times previously acquired a taped conversation between the US
Secretary of State and two dozen Syrian civilians from education,
rescue, and medical groups working in rebel-held areas, during a meeting
on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. “I’ve argued for use of force. I stood up. I’m the guy who stood up and announced we’re going to attack Assad because of the weapons, and then you know things evolved into a different process,” the Secretary of State said in the tape.
He told the civilians that “you have nobody more frustrated than we are (the US)” that the Syrian issue is now being solved diplomatically. Kerry also warned the Syrians, who sounded clearly unhappy with Washington’s contribution, that attempts to intervene militarily or provide more support to the rebels by the US may have a reverse effect.
“The problem is that, you know, you get, quote, ‘enforcers’ in there and then everybody ups the ante, right? Russia puts in more, Iran puts in more; Hezbollah is there more and Nusra is more; and Saudi Arabia and Turkey put all their surrogate money in, and you all are destroyed,” the diplomat explained.
We expect the Syrian proxy war to continue to escalate until either Assad is removed, which however seems unlikely with Russian, and now Chinese backing, behind the Syrian president, or until the proxy war escalates into a full blown world war once US troops are sent to Syria, a move which would be met by a proportional response by Russia and, perhaps, China.
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Syrian army makes fresh gains in Aleppo
Syrian army establishes control over more areas
By October 2, SAA, with the support of “Liwa al-Quds” and Kurds quarter of Sheikh Maksoud seriously advanced in the north of the city. After the occupation of the camp Handarat and repulsed counterattacks “Al-Nusra” and “Noureddine en Zina” in the hospital Al-Kindi, the CAA launched an attack on the industrial zone of Al-Shakeyf. full control was installed at the building complex to the south of the highway Castello (they controlled while the Kurds), and also tipped the entire industrial zone of Al-Shakeyf. The militants moved into the quarter-Aaiun Tal and industrial zone west of the quarter. The new line of defense – Laayoune quarter-Tal – Avidzha with the center position on the commanding heights to the north-east of the highway. In the coming days we can expect attempts of the CAA to take this height, the loss of which would almost certainly force the gradual withdrawal of the militants of the forces directly to the city’s neighborhoods – Laayoune-Tal and Haidar, which will host the next Defence and Army line is difficult to realize the advantage in artillery and armored vehicles
Counter militants on the camp Handarat Kindi hospital and soon played against them – they slowed the onset of the CAA, but ultimately led to unnecessary losses and cost overruns of ammunition that will have an effect in subsequent battles. Army objectively beneficial pull militants in various active steps inside the boiler, as they will accelerate rather using up scarce defense resources. On the other hand, receives information that is preparing another attempt deblokady Aleppo. According to Syrian sources, the militants group collected about 5-6 thousand. Man with a certain number of CMV artillery, armored vehicles and tachanok, which must try to strike a blow from the west on the outer ring of the city environment. The problem of militants that hit near a farm Mallah gradually loses its potential effectiveness as rasstnoyanie up surrounded in August increased dramatically. More can promise to blow from the south-west in the direction of the artillery base Ramuseha there before surrounded by a little closer, but in the first place – this attack is unlikely to be as strong as in August, and secondly, even if successful, self control fact over Ramusehom and artillery base anything substantial militants it does not. There is certainly an option and blunt assault on the western neighborhoods of Aleppo in the forehead, but even in August, such a scenario is nothing militants did not give – they are wedged in residential areas, have suffered serious losses and were vynuzhdey retreat. In general, the chances of Aleppo deblokady outside is not very large.
So far, the army continues to slowly digest the surrounded part of Aleppo. If the center and south of the promotion today slowed in the north progress has been made vice versa. Action can not be strong everywhere at once and throwing scarce reserves to strengthen the vulnerable sections of the front, they weaken the other direction. Army and allied formation of these sensitive areas and feel for moving forward. Before the collapse of the defense is still far, but the trends for the militants in recent days is extremely unfavorable.
Three factors may have an impact on the further course of the battle:
1. Negotiations US and Russia, which continues in the form of consultation on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs line. US insists on cessation of bombardments by the FSI Russian and Syrian Air Force, according to Russia is only in the case of a practical demarcation militants “Al-Nusra” militants of other groups. Since the US conglomerate controlled by jihadists is very weak, to achieve this disengagement, they will hardly be able, even if they wanted. In order to stop the unilateral bombing of Russia is not going to. VKS RF struck a neighborhood in Aleppo, and applied. Over Idlib province there is an increase of flights of Russian aircraft.
2. The attack militants in Hama. If north of Hama CAA as a whole stabilized the front, here is to the northeast of the provincial capital, the problems continue. Building on the successes associated with the capture Maan, insurgents continue to attack to the south and south-east of Maan and the army despite the stubborn defense gradually moves back, leaving a fortified position and technique (yesterday only in the form of trophies militants seized four T-55 and T-62, BMP 1, several anti-aircraft installations and machines). Fights are bloody character – in the last week there army lost more than 130 people killed. fighters losses amounted to between 110 and 170 killed (according to various estimates, and quite controversial). The main problem is that the growing problems in the north of Hama may require removal of part of the forces under the Aleppo to stabilize the front in Hama, which will prolong the situation of Aleppo on the sample with the Eastern Guta.
3. If these two factors can not stop the advance of the CAA in Aleppo, then a sufficiently high degree of probability, some time will begin delivery of additional weapons to militants through Turkey and Jordan. Encircled in Aleppo is unlikely to save, but create additional problems in Latakia, Deraa and Hama, simply for the army. First of all it concerns the capacity density of anti-tank weapons in the key areas and the emergence of MANPADS, which will create problems for the use of helicopters. That in turn will lead to a “preventive” and “in a seemingly random” shock to the places of potential presence of Western and Saudi advisors. This scenario is likely to lead to a further escalation of the conflict and increase the level of foreign participation in the Syrian war from both Russia and Iran, and from the US-led coalition.
Syrian army captures Kindi hospital in north Aleppo countryside
Syrian army advances against militants north of Aleppo
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Kurdish Official: ISIL Leader, Top Commanders Fleeing Mosul for Syria
An Iraqi Kurdish media official said on Sunday that ISIL’s top commanders, including its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, have started fleeing Mosul for Syria, adding that as the terrorist group’s leader has ordered militants to destroy the city if defeated and forced to withdraw.
“The ISIL commanders, including al-Baghdadi, are escaping Mosul to Syria,” Iraqi Kurdistan Democrat Party’s media director Saeed Mamouziti said.
He said that al-Baghdadi has also ordered his followers to completely destroy Mosul if they are defeated in the war against Iraq’s joint military forces.
“A sum of 13 ISIL terrorists, including 3 senior commanders have fled to the city of Raqqa in Syria from Mosul,” Mamouziti said.
He reiterated that between 7,000 to 10,000 ISIL terrorists, a majority of them Arab nationals, are deployed in Mosul, and said, “There are 135 Danish nationals, 5 Britons and 115 Kurds among the ISIL terrorists in Mosul.”
Earlier on Sunday, local sources in Nineveh disclosed that the ISIL has conducted house-to-house search in the city of Mosul for more than 10 hours to confiscate the television sets and cell phones to prevent the public from hearing the news of the recent advances by Iraq’s joint military forces in the province.
“The ISIL is taking strange and confused decisions as the Iraqi army and volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) are making remarkable advances in Mosul city,” an informed local source said.
The source, meantime, said that the ISIL has also ordered closure of the photography studios in Mosul city for the time being.
Also on Sunday, informed local sources in Nineveh province disclosed that the ISIL has blocked the roads leading to Wadi al-Hajr district in the Southern part of the city of Mosul and set up military outposts after the M resistance movement (an opponent group of the ISIL) increased its activities in the region.
The ISIL’s intensified security measures came after the letter M appeared on all walls of al-Hajr district.
M stands for the Arabic word ‘Moqavamah’ or ‘Resistance’ in English.
The ISIL terrorists are very much fearful of people’s uprising in areas under their control in Mosul city.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Friday that his country’s armed forces are now in the final stage of the operation for liberating the city of Mosul.
He reiterated that Iraq’s joint military forces are in full coordination with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, has been controlled by the ISIL group since 2014. Iraqi forces backed by popular forces are currently preparing an assault to liberate the strategic city.