Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Syria crisis: rebels 'shoot down' two jets - live updates

Matthew Weaver and Brian Whitaker, Wednesday 5 September 2012

The 'Syrian National Army' begins to emerge

While the political opposition – the Syrian National Council – remains in disarray, there are signs that fighters on the ground are becoming more organised.

A series of tweets from The 47th, who is usually well informed, talk about efforts to combine the disparate rebel groups in a newly-formed "Syrian National Army" under the command of Maj Gen Mohammad Hussein Haj Ali.

Brown Moses has also compiled the details in a post on his blog:

The Syrian National Army now commands major FSA factions across all Syrian governorates, including, but not limited to

• Attawheed (the largest in Aleppo)
• Ansar Al Sham (Damascus)
• All of Deraa (all of Horan Valley)
• Most of Latakia (inc Coastal Turkmen Brigade)

Over the next few days (expected on Thursday) the Syrian National Army will announced its new structure and what it encompasses (brigades and leadership).

Some groups remain outside the new structure – negotiations with the al-Farouq Brigade in Homs have apparently failed and talks with FSA factions in Idlib as said to be continuing but "a little tough".

What does seem clear, however, is that the rebel forces are gradually becoming stronger and more organised while the government forces are on a downhill path:

Assad forces' land supply lines are like walking on thin ice, almost every convoy is attacked. Tanks can't be moved, no air freight, etc. That's why you see more and more jets dropping barrels filled with screwdrivers, metal shrapnel, and TNT. Assad can no longer transport big bombs.

Troops from the 4th, 5th, 9th & 17th Division (estimated around 100k) can mostly not leave their bases. They can only shell towns from their news base, and the majority of these troops haven't taken a break from their tours since deployment.

In short, Assad army morale is at an all-time low, the latest loses (including jets and military bases) have increase defection, and they are slowly getting desperate. The lack of supplies (along with new arms) is exactly why FSA brigades can take over whole military bases like Abu Aduhoor, Taftanaz, etc....

Details on the downing of a Syrian jet

Blogger Brown Moses has more details on the downing of a jet which he identifies as a MiG, in Idlib province.

He also highlights another video from activists showing Jamaal Maaruf, identified as the leader of Shuhada Jebel al-Zawiya battalion, explaining that his men have been been attacking Abu Dhuhur air base for six days.

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