Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Syria rebels claim upper hand as battle for Aleppo grinds towards stalemate

Despite forces massed on both sides, neither seems willing or able to make decisive move on Salahedin neighbourhood

Martin Chulov in Aleppo, Wednesday 8 August 2012

"....Yet the decisive battle that most in Aleppo seemed to have feared is slowly giving way to another – even more dreaded – reality. Stalemate, with neither side willing or able to advance. A new sense is beginning to settle in that neither Salahedin, nor the rest of Syria's second city, will see an end to the fighting any time soon.....

Street 15 in Salahedin now resembles Leningrad in its darkest days, and the suburb itself is in far worse shape than when the Guardian last visited on Saturday. Most streets on the eastern side are now impassable by car. Broken sewage and water pipes and food leftovers have formed a festering stew over the few surfaces that aren't littered with the flotsam and jetsam of war.....

Recent senior defectors, among them two colonels from Aleppo who made their way to a nearby town on Tuesday, claimed that the fear of large numbers of defections if a ground attack was launched was shaping regime tactics.

"If they send the army in, they will throw off their clothes and leave," one of the men said. They want to sit back and bomb, just like they did in Homs."

The defectors also claimed that jets would bomb Aleppo and the eastern hinterland between 3am and 5am. On cue, the jets arrived. The fulfilled prediction means the two officers will now be asked to help devise tactics to repel the assault.

Whoever can prevail in a war of attrition will prevail in Aleppo and likely in the overall uprising. Though battle-weary and at times despairing, and still underprepared, the rebel forces appear to have the stamina to see the fight to a conclusion....."

No comments: