August 12th, 2016 – Fort Russ News –
– by: J. Flores –
– Last updated: 17:00 GMT –
At the present time, upwards of 6,000 takfiris are mounting a force to attempt to reverse the gains of the SAA over the last two days. Events in the siege of Aleppo since our last update have followed a tense yet decisive course. While the specifics remained fluid, the overall outcome was a somewhat predictable course given the balance of forces. Changes which appeared to favor the ‘rebel’ takfiris began late in the day on August 6th, when al-Nusra and FSA began to make gains in their attempt to connect with the external takfiri force in the south-west area of Aleppo.
There was a brief connection, but very soon came under shelling and aerial bombardment from Russians, rendering this – as we reported several days ago – operationally unusable.
As we reported on the 7th/8th, this attempt to break the siege actually failed.
The fluidity of the situation of the exact area is depicted above, in south-west Aleppo, what was once a 2.4 km strip held only by the SAA and allies, is now a narrower and contested strip in the above map. However, this may not be accurate.
The two videos with a lot of aerial footage, shot by FSA (et al), shows several of the areas in question in this report, uploaded on the 9th, but the footage is from days before, prior to changing hands over to the SAA.
What is also interesting is the large scale of these areas and facilities. It may be easy to forget that before this war, Aleppo was a major city with several million people. On the map, this areas of southwest Aleppo looks small, but these videos show us something else entirely.
The first one in particular features the Ramouseh industrial district. The viewer can appreciate the extent of destruction, truly apocalyptic in nature.
This second one shows the Military Academy.
World Islamic News provides the map update above, current for August 10th, 2016, but published reflecting August 11th. We believe this map reflects the situation on the 9th, or perhaps the 10th. We have conflicting reports about this, as we have it on good information that the 1070 block, the cement factory, as well as the Electrical Station and Ramuse Artillery are at the disposal of the SAA. These should be included as ‘contested’.
We distinguish ‘disposal’ from ‘control’ because earlier the SAA made a statement on the 9th (see the quote below) about the ebb and flow of the battle, as well as some insight into their battle tactics. But Fort Russ actually prognosticated all of these several days before, on the morning of August 8th (7th in the US) in our article titled:
At the present time, we have confirmed that the information about the changes to the battlefield situation which we gave on the 7th/8th is accurate and generally reflects the situation now. This report therefore will include additional information as well as trivia that may be of interest, as well as an additional forecast on the strategy moving forward.
On August 9th, the SAA did finally announce what we had reported on August 8th:
The passage that terrorists opened toward the Eastern side of Aleppo after Syrian Arab Army units were ordered to withdraw and regroup is under SAA fire control.
The passage is not safe, not even for infantry personnel at night; it is as good as closed again.
However, that does not mean it will not be controlled again, and the points of which the Syrian forces withdrew from will not be recaptured. Unfortunately we cannot share any battle tactics yet; perhaps when that battle is over, we will try and explain a lot of SAA’s movement.
What we can say now is that the SAA is preparing for counter offensive intended on capitalizing on their stabilizing of the situation.
The takfiris are mounting another force, upwards of 6000 men, to attempt once again to break the siege from the outside. But they cannot form their positions as they would like without a ceasefire first.
This video gives a report from one area, on the 6th of August, when the rebel offensive to break the siege was in tact, and frustrating attempts by the SAA to make any progress on the siege.
But as of now, the Al-Nusra, FSA, et al, and their western and backers are clearly aware of the significant set backs since the 6th, and they are panicking.
This is evident because of the change in the nature of their own reporting on social media. There is now no more talk of a ‘victory’ at Aleppo. Now, the stories have returned to the ‘human tragedy’, and calls for western intervention for ‘relief’.
Reuters is performing their roll, providing information war cover for the ‘rebel’ fighters. In this piece, titled, U.N. urges Aleppo ceasefire to repair water system, stem outbreaks, it is clear what is occurring.
Indeed, such ‘assistance’ is only possible through the institutions of the UN under Ban Ki Moon, which would only be authorizing movement of medical supplies for fighters and tools and parts for repairing equipment for artillery (etc.) under the guise of infrastructural (electrical, plumbing, etc.) parts.
That the western backed forces are calling for a ceasefire, with which they may regroup, rearm, and resupply, is very indicative that in this theatre, their awareness of their dire situation is acute.
Reuters is going into overdrive, reporting on the humanitarian situation, headlining that the “Intensifying fight for Aleppo chokes civilian population“
What this of course means is that the al-Nusra and FSA groups inside Aleppo are ‘choking’. To fact check, before the SAA began to put the final clamp on the ‘rebels’, two weeks ago, humanitarian corridors were established, and civilians were moved into liberated west Aleppo, were provisions were made for tens of thousands of residents.
|A ‘moderate’ machine gunner lays down suppressive fire at the cement factory wall|
We will recall the story of the downed Russian helicopter making a humanitarian run, in connection with this. The government’s intentions here are obvious and clear. While the US and GCC allies are trying to create a failed state, the Syrian government is trying to keep a Syria together that is governable, which includes a population that doesn’t largely view that the state engaged in needlessly punitive actions upon civilian populations.
The strategy of the SAA now will be to melt the main power resources of the ‘rebels’ in one or several large battles. If al-Nusra and FSA, now fully besieged once again in Aleppo, are unable to access resupply of necessaries, they may have no choice but to surrender in some way, or make a final suicide push in desperation.
The only mitigating factor upon this may be larger geopolitical developments, which make it broadly opportune to engage in another ceasefire. There are a limited number of scenarios in which this would be advantageous, and whether that scenario will actually arise is difficult to project at this time. This may include something involving the increasingly tense situation in Ukraine, in the aftermath of the foiled assault on Crimea and Putin’s decisive ultimatum.
What is important about the losses of the takfiris over the last week is that disproportionate number of these were from their special forces, about 3000 rendered inoperative as a result of the assault. They are from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkmen Battalion, all western trained.
That this vanguard was thrown in first is evident now for a number of reasons, including that they were reinforced with the best armor at the same time. When the takfiris threw their best armor at the SAA and allies, it was also clear that the infantry was special forces.
Their plan was for their job to do the big pushing, and then go into a reserve roll as to to not sustain loses from air power. This did not go as well as they had hoped.
At this time the SAA has not started the final counter offensive, and are instead strangling the takfiris and melting them with fire power.
Meanwhile, SAA reserves are coming including part of 15th Special Forces Division, several battalions, battalion of Hezbollah, and some Shia militias numbering several hundreds each, and some large army units, in particular an additional armored division.
Tiger forces are holding at Castello road, as they have avoided a trap. The ‘rebels’ have big group west of Castello, and the plan was that when they stormed the southern position, the army would bring reserves from the north and then make an attack on Castello road, which is open land and not urban warfare. But the SAA avoided this trap
The SAA continues to hold pressure on the south and there are seemingly two options.
The first is to hold them in a pocket and melt their resources, and bomb their over stretched columns from Turkey and Idlib, witch the Syrian and Russian army do very well.
The second option is to counter attack them immediately. For reasons discussed above, at this time, and based on movements observed now, including the ‘cries’ for help communicated through Reuters, it seems the army will go for the first option.
The FSA and al-Nusra are now in a strategic corner with no other exit.
They are leaving other fronts like Lattakia, where they have also sustained big defeats, to go to this battle which they cannot win, because they have sustained larger losses than the SAA several times over. They cannot win it, and at the same time cannot afford to lose it.
Still, there remains heavy fighting in the countryside of Lattakia.
It would appear that presently, the takfiris are only buying time and attempting to extend their legitimacy. Any counter offensive they could launch at this time would be would a real perspective of actual victory.
What happens with Turkey will also figure in greatly. One of the contingent factors is whether or when Turkey will close border. One credible theory is that Erdogan gave them passage for this battle because he knows when they lose Aleppo he will be able to wash his hands of them. He cannot disentangle so quickly, and while he has extricated Gulen members from the military and positions in the judiciary and educational system, there is the matter of the Muslim Brotherhood. He relies on the Muslim Brotherhood, but at the same time they have become both a pillar of support and a liability which operates as a domestic factor, beyond just NATO or the US, which forces him to continue to support ISIS and other formations in the Syrian conflict. This may be reminiscent of Poroshenko sending in vanguard units of Azov and Pravy Sektor groups in order to face certain demise, which relived him of certain political and even security pressure at home, once they were liquidated at the hands of the Donbass militias.
Iraq and its border will also figure in. The US has started deliver F-16’s again to Iraq, they can extract additional resources from Iraq before Mosul falls, but the Iraqi government is now under good advisement and plays it smart, they see it as buying their independence.
This, closing the border with Iraq and Turkey are two of the most important factors which remain. The southern front from Jordan is almost totally pacified.
The outcomes of Eastern Ghouta and Lattakia will figure prominently, but the Syrian government has been carefully transferring the population from Ghouta as to make a more decisive attack possible, that makes use of air superiority.
The Syrian army was wise to withdraw from operations near Raqa because now it remains simply a fight to the death between the Kurdish YPG and ISIS.
A point of reader interest: Hezbollah used a drone and attacked takfiri positions in Aleppo