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October 10, 2015 / 27 Tishri, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Aleppo’

Suicide Attack Helps Rebels Take Over Syrian Military Airport

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Syrian rebels staged a suicide attack that enabled its forces to overcome government troops and take over a key air base in northern Syria Tuesday morning. Rebels also seized tanks and arms.

The victory was both military and moral, coming after last week’s Syrian offensive that took back control of areas in Homs and in the commercial city of Aleppo and appeared to be devastating the rebels. Taking over the air base deprives Syrian President Bassar al-Assad’s military of a key supply route in the Aleppo region.

Two foreign fighters in an armored vehicle blew themselves up to help break through Syrian army defense at the air base, according to The New York Times. After the rebels’ victory, dozens of Syrian soldiers reportedly defected.

The rebellion, well into its third year, has divided the country into different regions, a situation that could be the best for Israel if it means that the next regime will be far less powerful with control of a smaller area.

The Troubling Timing of Obama’s Syria Epiphany

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Originally published at The American Thinker.

Last August, President Obama declared that the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons was a “red line.” About four months later, Al Jazeera released unconfirmed reports that a gas attack killed seven civilians in a rebel-held neighborhood of Homs. Last April, the UK, France, and Israel each claimed that there was evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in Aleppo, Homs, and/or Damascus. By April 25th, the U.S intelligence assessment was that the Assad regime had likely used sarin gas, but President Obama dodged his red line by announcing that a thorough investigation was still needed (as if the Syrian government would ever allow one). Meanwhile, reports from foreign intelligence agencies and journalists continued to corroborate the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. So why did Obama’s requirement of a thorough investigation to confirm the crossing of his red line suddenly vanish last Friday?

Viewed through the lens of domestic politics, Obama’s Syria epiphany looks conveniently timed to deflect attention from an ever-swelling wave of scandals: Benghazi-gate, IRS-gate, AP/Fox-gate, and now NSA-gate and State Department prostitution-gate. As the film Wag The Dog highlights, international crises are great at diverting attention from domestic scandals.

But from the perspective of the Syrian rebels, the timing and nature of U.S. military assistance may be viewed as either too little, too late, or a cynical attempt to ensure a perpetual stalemate. After all, the outgunned rebels have needed lethal weapons from the U.S. for over two years. Chemical weapons use by the Assad regime is old news. So what has changed? The Syrian regime recently defeated rebel forces at the crucial battle in Qusayr, a town providing a strategic supply conduit for rebel forces in Homs. After the military gains enabled by the robust battlefield support of Iran-backed Hezb’allah, the Syrian regime is now preparing for a major offensive to retake Aleppo. With another crushing blow to a key rebel stronghold, the regime could ultimately prevail in the conflict, unless the U.S. provides just enough rebel support to restore the pre-Qusayr stalemate.

Obama has already made it clear that any lethal weapons or no-fly zone provided by the U.S. would be limited. Such tentative U.S. involvement is unlikely to end the carnage, given the vigorous support that the Assad regime enjoys from Iran, Hezb’allah, and Russia (which could undermine a U.S.-imposed no-fly zone by supplying Syria with its potent S-300 missile defense system). Indeed, the New York Times reported on June 14th that “the president’s caution has frayed relations with important American allies in the Middle East that have privately described the White House strategy as feckless. Saudi Arabia and Jordan recently cut the United States out of a new rebel training program, a decision that American officials said came from the belief in Riyadh and Amman that the United States has only a tepid commitment to supporting rebel groups.”

What a difference two years makes. In 2011, the relatively non-sectarian Free Syrian Army (FSA) was the main force fighting for freedom from Assad’s tyranny. Sunni Islamists had not yet felt compelled by FSA failures to join (and ultimately lead) the military effort in large numbers. In 2011, Obama also had far more credibility and political capital — important presidential assets when undertaking a foreign military intervention.

But now the Syrian crisis has deteriorated into a regional sectarian war, increasingly creeping over Syrian borders and into Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, and Jordan. The Syrian belligerents have also radicalized, decreasing the odds that the ultimate victor will be friendly to the U.S. or able to achieve a postwar reconciliation and reconstruction in Syria.

Today, with a death toll exceeding 90,000 Syrians (and increasing by 5,000/month) and millions displaced, the humanitarian need for intervention is greater than ever. But Iran and Russia are redoubling their support for the Assad regime, so the U.S. must not enter the Syrian cauldron with half-measures or it could suffer a costly setback with far-reaching repercussions. If Obama’s “red line” was crossed months ago and the tardy “consequences” are America’s feeble and ineffective entry into the Syrian civil war, then Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, and other U.S. adversaries will only feel emboldened to challenge U.S. interests.

Thus, Obama effectively has two choices: 1) continue his disengagement from Syria to preserve whatever political capital and military deterrent he has left for the inevitable showdown over Iranian nukes, 2) enter the Syrian fray in a massive way that ensures a military victory and says to the Iranian regime: “you are next, unless you discontinue your nuclear program.” After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran feared that thousands of American troops would turn eastward and offered to negotiate the dismantling of its nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration refused to engage but Iran still temporarily suspended its nuclear program out of trepidation.

U.S. entry into the Syrian conflict could defeat Assad and deter Iranian nukes, but only with the resolve and overwhelming firepower to demolish the Syrian-Iranian-Hezb’allah axis (ideally with help from NATO forces). Joining the conflict with insufficient commitment mainly to distract a scandal-weary U.S. audience could have catastrophic consequences for the U.S., and that would be the biggest scandal of all.

Assad’s Army Ready to Take Back Aleppo

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Syria’s army is preparing to launch an assault on Aleppo, aimed at driving rebels out of the northern city and surrounding province, the Daily Star of Lebanon reports.

Preparations for the new battle come five days after the Syrian army and its ally Hezbollah—which is an Iranian brigade based in Lebanon—retook Qusair in center-west Syria, a year after the bulk of that region had fallen into rebel hands.

“It is likely the battle for Aleppo will start in the coming hours or days, and its aim is to reclaim the towns and villages [under rebel control] in the province,” a source in the Syrian security apparatus told AFP.

“The Syrian Arab army is ready to carry out its mission in this province,” the source said.

The pro-Assad daily Al-Watan reported on Sunday that the government army had “started to deploy at a large scale in Aleppo province, in preparation for a battle that will be fought in the city and its outskirts.”

The rebels took Alepo in July, 2012, and since then this major industrial center had been bombarded regularly by Army forces.

Al-Watan also said “the Syrian army will take advantage of its experience in Qusair and Eastern Ghouta [near Damascus] to advance in the [central] province of Hama and Homs” nearby.

“The consequences of the battle for Qusair will … map out the contours of Syria’s political future,” the daily added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Friday that the regime was deploying “thousands of soldiers” near Aleppo, among other things to try and cut off the rebels’ weapons supply routes from Turkey.

Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media channel, reported that the army’s “Northern Storm” operation had started Sunday morning, with the goal of “regaining Aleppo and its countryside.”

Battles raged on Sunday near Al-Nubul and Zahra, two rural Shiite enclaves outside Aleppo, in Syria’s north.

“The aim is to use the two villages as forward bases to make advances in Aleppo and its countryside,” said Brigadier General Mustafa al-Sheikh, a rebel commander who used to be a senior officer in Assad’ military.

“The regime considers that it has received a shot in the arm after the Qusair battle, but they will find that it will not be easy to advance in Aleppo,” al-Sheikh told The Daily Star.

Another rebel commander, from the Free Syria Brigade, using the name Salah, told The Daily Star there had been increased air traffic from the direction of Al-Nubul and Zahra for the last two days.

“We are forming groups to prepare but we lack ammunition,” he said in a phone conversation.

Atrocities Plague Syria, Over 3,500 Children Killed

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

The United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) on Saturday denounced fighters in Syria for endangering children in the bloody civil war which has gripped the country for almost two years.

Over 60,000 people have been killed since the battle between President Bashar Assad and opposition to his rule began in March 2011.  Included in that number are an estimated 3,500 children.

“Media reports today (Friday) from the scene of mass killings in the village of Hasawiya outside Homs said whole families were among the dead in horrific circumstances,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that last Monday saw 31 child victims across the country.

On Tuesday, it was unclear whether President Assad or rebel forces were responsible for two blasts at Aleppo University which killed 87 people, including many students.  An estimated 100 civilian were killed in army operations in Homs province that same day as Assad loyalists swept through, torching homes and killing people, according to reports.

On Thursday, at least 7 girls were killed in aerial attacks on southern Damascus.

On Friday, two car bombs exploded in southern Syria killing at least 12 people.  One severely damaged a building in Aleppo while the other targeted worshippers at a mosque in Daraa.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/atrocities-plague-syria-over-3500-children-killed/2013/01/20/

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