Rebels in Northern Syria Assailed on Multiple Fronts

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Rebels in northern Syria were under attack on multiple fronts Monday from Russian-backed regime forces, advancing Kurdish militia and Islamic State group jihadists.

One week into an assault on opposition-held areas of Aleppo province that has caused tens of thousands to flee, troops loyal to President Bashar Assad have seized a string of villages.

Aided by Russian air strikes and allied militia including Lebanon's Hizbullah, regime troops are now around 20 kilometers (14 miles) from the Turkish frontier.

"It's the first time since 2013 that the Syrian regime has been this close to the Turkish border in Aleppo province," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitor.

Opposition fighters are now squeezed "between the pincers of the army, which is pushing north, Kurdish forces coming from the west, and IS which dominates the east," he said.

The regime offensive, one of the largest yet in the north, has cut a major rebel supply route out of Aleppo city.

Regime forces now have their sights set on taking Tal Rifaat, one of three remaining rebel bastions north of Aleppo city.

With their capture of the village of Kafeen late Sunday, government troops are stationed only five kilometers (three miles) south of Tal Rifaat.

A rebel spokesman blamed the losses of villages in Aleppo province on the lack of support from regional powers opposed to Assad.

"The difference between them and us, it's that we don't benefit from the help of our allies, while the regime gets all sort of support from its allies," said Haitham Hammo, a spokesman for Jabha Shamiya (Levant Front).

"This means the areas held by the revolutionaries are collapsing," he told AFP.

Since fighting intensified there in 2012, Aleppo province has been transformed into a patchwork of territories held by the government, rebels, Kurds, and jihadists.

In the province's north, opposition fighters are centered in three main strongholds: Tal Rifaat, Marea -- under attack by IS -- and Azaz, which lies five kilometers from the Turkish border.

All three towns fell to opposition fighters in 2012, just a year after the popular uprising against Assad's rule erupted.

But in recent weeks, developments around Syria's second city Aleppo have put serious pressure on rebels there.

On Sunday night, Kurdish fighters took control of three villages east of Afrin after clashes with rebels, who were urged to leave by residents to avoid Russian air strikes, Abdel Rahman said.

The Kurds are one of the most powerful fighting forces on the ground in Syria and have scored significant victories against IS.

About 350,000 civilians are now stuck in the opposition-held eastern parts of Aleppo city, bombarded daily by government forces.

On Monday, 10 civilians were killed in an air strike on the rebel-held Salhin neighborhood of the city, according to the Observatory.

With the city nearly completely surrounded, the fear is that residents of opposition-held areas will face severe shortages of basic goods.

"What peace negotiations are they talking about when the regime is transforming the people here into human remains?" said Abu Ahmad, a resident of Aleppo.

Peace talks in Geneva quickly collapsed last week amid rebel anger over the government offensive.

Further north in the Shiite villages of Nubol and Zahraa, where regime forces recently broke a three-year rebel siege, steady transport routes with Damascus have finally resumed, an AFP journalist said.

Three people were killed there Monday when rebels nearby fired rockets into the villages, according to the Observatory.

If rebels lose Aleppo, it would be a major turning point in the nearly five-year war, which has left more than 260,000 people dead.

In Damascus province, regime forces began a siege of the rebel bastion of Daraya over the weekend, prompting the opposition National Coalition to warn Monday of an "imminent massacre".

Comments 14
Thumb kanaandian 08 February 2016, 15:26

Al Saud and Erdonazi face a ruthless Russian slaughter in Syria.
Can't wait for the ground troops to face extermination.

Missing helicopter 08 February 2016, 15:45

Are you sure they are facing Russian slaughter and not the Resistance slaughter? Mystic would disagree with you.

Thumb Mystic 08 February 2016, 20:09

Well, the Russians does soften up the salafis from the skies, so no arguement there.

Default-user-icon Its ok (Guest) 08 February 2016, 17:08

face a russian bombs you mean

Thumb ashtah 08 February 2016, 17:14

Iraanian, don't be so sure! It is not over yet. Soon your russian planes will be falling from the skies like kites.

Thumb Mystic 08 February 2016, 20:11

In your dreams ashtah, watch your salafis get destroyed and cry.

Missing peace 08 February 2016, 20:47

you already said that.....5 years ago LOL

Thumb Mystic 08 February 2016, 21:16

5 years ago you thought Assad would be gone, and now you cry about him staying onto power, everyday like a broken old record peace.

Missing peace 08 February 2016, 21:51

and you keep wishing for your divine victory for 5 years now and yet it is not coming.... LOL

Thumb jabal10452 08 February 2016, 22:15

How about this theory. Assad scores some major victories against the rebels, they all agree on a ceasefire, then Assad eventually makes an honorable exit at "a moment of his choosing". He is of course replaced by someone friendly to the Russians and Iranians. This way everybody wins: Russia gets to keep Syria under its influence, the Iranians have the alawites protected, and the Saudis save face. Do you see this kind of scenario being cooked up behind the scenes?

Missing peace 08 February 2016, 22:20

don't forget this whole war is all about oil, not about saving alawites or other.

Thumb cityboy 08 February 2016, 23:29

you are cluesless if you think that the syrian conflict is all about oil.

Missing peace 08 February 2016, 23:33

and you are brainless if you don't do any research about it.... or is ignorance a bliss to you?

Thumb marcus 08 February 2016, 22:19

I guess it is clear whose side ISIS if fighting on!

"Rebels in northern Syria were under attack on multiple fronts Monday from Russian-backed regime forces, advancing Kurdish militia and Islamic State group jihadists."