In the past few months, the front lines in the Syrian Conflict have faced tectonic shifts, most of these being in favour of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies, loyal to the UN recognized Damascus based government of President Bashar Al-Assad who are engaged in fighting against both the forces of the jihadist rebel coalition known as Jaysh Al Fateh which includes many Al-Qaeda affiliated Salafist terror groups, and the Islamic State (ISIS).
In early August, the Syrian Armed Forces scored a major success by entirely encircling and therefore besieging the Eastern districts of Aleppo City controlled by various jihadist rebel groups. In the space of less than a week 50,000 of 250,000 residents in the jihadist held districts of Eastern Aleppo were able to safely evacuate as the Syrian Government opened up safe corridors for civilians to leave. However, jihadist factions soon prevented civilians from leaving with some activists who took to social media in Aleppo stating that militants were targeting civilians leaving with snipers. Jihadist groups fighting against the Syrian Government have a long record of preventing civilians from leaving the areas they control, since, in their view, civilians are ideal assets to use as human shields.
In the days leading up to the entire encirclement of jihadist controlled Eastern Aleppo City, militants belonging to the jihadist rebel group Harakat Nourideen Al-Zinki posted footage online of militants taunting and then beheading a 12 year old Palestinian refugee from the Handarat Camp whom they claimed was fighting for a Syrian Arab Army aligned militia. When examining this claim made by the jihadist group, it becomes apparent that even if their claim was indeed true their actions were a heinous and unjustifiable crime in violation of both Syrian and International Law and therefore amount to a war crime.
Following intense criticism at their press briefings, US State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner announced that the United States would stop arming and funding the group which was responsible for this atrocious war crime. However, he also went on to say “One decapitated child is not enough for the US to halt arming the moderate opposition as a whole”. The following statement illustrates the disastrous approach the Obama Administration has taken towards the Syrian Conflict. On many occasions, what are branded as ‘mildly Islamist’ groups, backed mainly by the US and the Islamist trio of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have carried out atrocities against civilians, many of which are posted online on social media and YouTube, however these have not resulted in the halting of arms supplies by their backers. It comes as no surprise that most Syrians in areas still occupied by jihadist rebel groups and/or ISIS have either fled to Syrian Government controlled territory or to neighboring countries.
The Syrian Armed Forces siege of jihadist held Eastern Districts of Aleppo City fully held for approximately a week until an offensive was launched by Jaysh Al Fateh on July 31st. The aim of the jihadist rebel offensive was to besiege government controlled Aleppo, where 1.5 million inhabitants defiantly reside, and to also open a supply line to the jihadist held Eastern Districts via the Khan Touman – Ramouseh Road.
In spite of the limited success the jihadist alliance of Jaysh Al-Fateh achieved in August by partially lifting the siege on jihadist held Eastern districts of Aleppo by capturing the Ramouseh Artillery Base and the imperative district of Ramouseh, the Syrian Arab Army’s Elite Tiger Forces have been able to keep the Khan Touman – Ramouseh Road under fire control, hence meaning that it cannot be used by Jihadists militias to rearm their comrades in the Eastern Districts of Aleppo. The Tiger Forces have also managed to recapture the majority of the 1070 Housing Complex and the hilltops of Um Al Qara and Tal Syriatel.
Several attempts have been made by the Jihadist forces to recapture these points of control, however they have failed miserably in each attempt with many casualties suffered, since the Syrian Armed Forces understand that they must keep these areas under their control if they are to launch an offensive to physically cut the Khan Touman -Ramousseh Road to jihadist held districts of Eastern Aleppo and recapture the Artillery Academy, Technical College and Ramouseh District thereby fully reimposing the siege on the Jihadist enclave in Eastern Aleppo.
According to Izat Charkatli, a correspondent at Al-Masdar News, a site which covers events in Syria and also the wider Arab world, the Syrian Armed Forces on August 31st established a presence in the Ramousseh Artillery Base, fully liberating the Air Force Technical College from the jihadist forces of Jaysh Al-Fateh. The Syrian Armed Forces have also maintained a foothold in the southern part of the base, which is the armament storage section. As a result of this offensive the Syrian Armed Forces have physically cut the Khan Touman – Ramouseh Road meaning that the jihadists in the Eastern districts of Aleppo are unable to receive supplies of ammunition and additional fighters.
Elsewhere in Syria, jihadist militants in the Southwestern suburb of Damascus, Darayya, which was completely surrounded by the Syrian Armed Forces Elite Republican Guard and units from the 4th mechanized division, agreed to surrender the area to the Syrian Armed Forces provided they were given transport to the jihadist bastion of Idlib Province.
In Lattakia province, the Syrian Armed Forces, propelled by Russian airstrikes on militant gatherings and fortifications belonging to Al-Qaeda branch in Syria Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (formerly known as Al-Nusra Front) were able to liberate the strategic town of Kinsibba which is set on a hilltop overlooking the jihadist stronghold of Jisr Al-Shughour. The final barriers lying in the way of the Syrian Arab Army liberating Jisr Al-Shughour from the jihadist rebels, are the militant controlled towns of Kabbani and Sirmaniyah. Once these are captured, it is expected the Syrian forces will launch an all out offensive to liberate the city of Jisr Al Shughour from the control of various Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist groups.
In Syria’s Eastern City of Deir-Ez Zor, which has been under siege by the jihadist forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for several years, the Syrian Armed Forces stationed there under the command of Brigadier General Issam Zahreddine have repeatedly fought off several ISIS offensives in which the terrorists aimed at capturing the government controlled parts of the besieged city.