August 8th, 2016 – Fort Russ News –
– by: J. Flores for Fort Russ News –
Green – Foreign backed ‘rebels
Red – SAA and allies
– The siege has not been ‘broken’ in strategic terms, but the situation was fluid through most of August 7th – ‘rebels’ from each side have connected, but are under constant shelling and fire, and cannot make use of this
– The ‘rebel’ sally was an act of planned desperation
– ‘Rebel’ forces have experienced a 30-50% casualty rate
– The ‘rebel’ gains of late August 6th have been largely rolled back
– The SAA ‘liberated bridge’ (see map above and below) remains in SAA hands
– The military academy was retaken by the end of the 6th, Tigers were involved
– Hezbollah’s Special Forces heavy involvement confirmed
– The ‘rebels’ have gone through all their heavy tanks and are left with medium tanks
– Russian bombing sorties were used strategically in places where ‘rebel’ groupings were drawn/lured using tactical withdraw. – see video below
– SAA and allies losses have been comparatively low (withdraws were tactical in nature)
– SAA successfully brought in reinforcements
– The maps are only misleading insofar as the SAA holding of west Aleppo would otherwise appear as a potential cauldron – but only the SAA has access to air force
– The group that decapitated the boy have been positively identified in this battle (still alive as of now) – see video below
– Radar equipment in Aleppo used by ‘rebels’ is reported to have been found, and is of the type used by Turkey
The single-most important fact emerging from today’s fighting is that reports of ‘rebel’ groupings, primarily Jaysh al-Islam and ‘FSA’, having broken out of the siege, were false. While the two ‘rebel’ armies have connected in south-west Aleppo, the shelling and fire from the SAA, and sorties from the allied air forces, are so intense as to render this passage operationally unusable.
Other than this, the picture throughout most of August 7th has been difficult to ascertain, with the situation through mid-day being quite fluid, and reporting from the front – either directly through sources on the ground or through social media – being scarce.
From our contacts in the vicinity, and compared to the nature and type of Takfiri propaganda, understanding the patterns these normally take, and sorting these for inconsistencies and truths, a better picture had begun to emerge several hours after sunset on the 7th.
From this, we can cautiously make the following report. Regarding reports of the siege being broken, it appears that these reports were either intentionally misleading, premature, or misconstrued. What happened was some of these groupings had successfully taken positions that would indeed be necessary for a combined break-out and break-in maneuver. Video footage reflected this. These were groups not being besieged, but were from the outside army, approaching on routes corresponding with highways 62, 60, and M5.
The ‘rebel’ plan was for the inside force which once stood at some 20,000 to fight their way to the bulk of the external force of (what started as) 20,000 gathered at the south Aleppo front, who themselves would be pushing in.
The besieged ‘rebel’ group attempted to gather near the Sukkari district of south Aleppo, while the external ‘rebel’ force attempted to push in from the Al-Rashadin suburb, Hikmah, and Mushrifah, off the road below M5. These are visible on the map below, and between these mentioned points lies the electric station, which has been the subject of much coverage in Arabic and Farsi language reporting of yesterday’s (August 7th) fighting.
Because of the known positions of the external force, SAA commanders had a significant strategic advantage in managing the course of an otherwise very fluid situation, over the course of Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th.
But footage from August 7th depicting members of the besieged force uniting with alleged members of the outside force fighting in, were short-lived instances that could not be sustained or widened. These could not be used to bring in supplies, nor was it operationally possible to use the opening as a route for the besieged force through that corridor.
The most important global fact which gives meaning to all reports, is that this attempted sally on the part of the besieged Jaysh al-Islam and cohorts, was force upon them by dwindling supplies. The timing was not opportune, it was simply a ‘do or die’ sally. This alone gave a significant advantage to the well supplied SAA and allies, and Russian air forces.
Munition expenditures had been kept to a minimum until five days ago when the first stages of the sally evolution strategy was put into effect. This fact was noted by SAA and allies’ commanders on the ground, who understood that these were being reserved for an eventual surge. The predictable timing of the sally, therefore, was also a tremendous advantage on the part of the SAA and allies.
The last two days saw the third and fourth phases of the ‘rebel’ attempt to break the siege put into effect. The rebels made apparent gains on Friday, which turned out to be something else (they were drawn in). SAA had ground reinforcements come in to place a maneuver on these protrusions.
It appears that the SAA had made a tactical withdrawal on the 6th, which guaranteed the drawing in of Jaysh al-Islam forces into predictable positions. The Russian air force was able to lay a number of devastating sorties on the ‘rebels’ thereafter [see footage right below].
Several hours after our last report, by daybreak, the starting picture of today had emerged, as provided by the pro-Iranian Islamic World News
In the map below, a variation of the map above, shows the contested areas in yellow – the areas of the ‘rebel’ spearhead attempt should be clear:
According to pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV and a military source, by this morning, the Syrian Arab Army had recaptured military positions the rebels had stormed earlier on Saturday in a southern Aleppo province. These same sources also clarify that the aim of the rebels was to open a route from the al-Ramuseh town in southwest Aleppo into the besieged rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo. Last month, the Syrian army intensified battles against the rebels in Aleppo, cutting their last supply route into the eastern part of that city, in a bid to force them to surrender.
Battles raged as several rebel groups in Aleppo unleashed repeated attacks to break that siege. These attacks came in waves, including suicide bombings, failed.
One thing that is clear, the SAA has been careful not to report on its exact situation, for reasons relating to operational safety: it would be important not to give critical information on the closure of potential openings, the development of unsupportable protrusions, failed pushes, to other ‘rebel’ groupings who may be cut off from reliable information.
The kind of information we would need for battlefield forensics is not available at this time.
An image of geared up Aleppo ‘rebels’ of Jaysh al-Islam shows them with western and Saudi equipment, well uniformed
Footage identified of the child beheaders:
The semi-official propaganda statement from Muqawamist on the events of August 7th:
“In awe of the Syrian Arab Army and Hezbollah’s steadfastness. Thousands of barbaric “jihadists” have been attacking the positions of our men in southwestern Aleppo, cowardly unleashing waves of suicide car bombs since last night. The terrorist offensive is ongoing as hordes of thugs from numerous Al-Qaeda groups are desperately attempting to reopen their severed supply lines but our Resistance forces continue to repel the assault. Takfiri and “Syrian” opposition fanboys cheering about a “victory” in Halab need to get a grip and bury their delusions. Whatever posts the terrorists have taken is only temporary. Aleppo is not theirs, nor will it ever be.”
Vanessa Beely for 21stCenturyWire gives us these 10 important background facts for readers not entirely familiar with the story through today, to help understand the history and significance of this ongoing Aleppo battle
“The following are ten facts about Aleppo that must be accepted by any objective, informed and rational observer regardless of one’s political views and opinions regarding Syria.
1) Eastern Aleppo was overrun by a foreign-backed, Al-Qaeda-led terrorist alliance in 2012. At that time, approximately 600,000 Aleppans fled eastern Aleppo for the security and safety of western Aleppo where the Syrian government maintained control.
2) Estimates of how many civilians remained in eastern Aleppo vary widely, but official estimates place the number between 100 and 150 thousand. UN estimates of up to 300,000 are almost certainly inflated and politically motivated.
3) Eighty to eighty-five percent of the armed fighters in eastern Aleppo belong to the Jabhat Al-Nusra, the official Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria that just underwent a rebranding, complete with a new name and logo (see image above, top row, second from the left). The remaining fighters belong to twenty-two (there are constant splits, mergers, and rebranding among them) terrorist groups that all share the same jihadi ideology, methods, and objectives as Al-Qaeda.
4) The overwhelming majority of Syrian fighters in eastern Aleppo are not from Aleppo itself, belying the notion that any part of the city rose up against the government.
5) The terrorist groups in Aleppo include a large number of foreign fighters from eighty-one different countries with significant contingents from Turkey, the Gulf Arab states, North Africa, and Russia’s Chechnya and North Caucasus region.
6) Armed groups in eastern Aleppo have been deliberately shelling civilians in western Aleppo. This has led to angry protests against the Syrian government demanding an end to the shelling and the complete extirpation of the terrorist presence in eastern Aleppo.
7) This past week eastern Aleppo was finally completely encircled by the Syrian Army, effectively cutting off the terrorist groups’ supply routes from Turkey.
8) The Syrian government has offered all Syrian fighters in eastern Aleppo amnesty in exchange for laying down their weapons and surrendering to the Syrian authorities.
9) The Syrian military has also established three humanitarian corridors for civilians to exit eastern Aleppo. The Syrian government had prepared 10,000 habitable apartment units in western Aleppo for civilians fleeing in anticipation of a possible final battle. As dozens of families started to exit armed groups immediately began preventing civilians from leaving, prompting speculation they intend to use them as human shields when and if the Syrian Army begins its final entry into the eastern part of the city.
10) After completing the encirclement of eastern Aleppo the Syrian government, in a joint mission with the Russian Air Force based at Hemeimeem Air Base, began a massive humanitarian airlift into eastern Aleppo. The tragic shoot down of the Russian helicopter this week took place as it was returning from a humanitarian aid delivery.”