Aleppo battle seesaws: pro-Assad siege in place
The battle for Aleppo was locked in a draw Monday, Aug. 8 – contrary to the claims of Syrian rebel forces to have broken through the weeks-long government siege on the city and seized key positions from Assad’s army and its allies, Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite militias.
debkafile’s military sources report that the rebels had not yet secured control of the roads linking western and eastern Aleppo. Neither was there any sign of the heavy Russian air strikes claimed by the rebels Sunday afternoon to have been launched in an effort to halt their advance.
According to our sources, intensive air strikes are indeed being conducted in the Aleppo theater – but only by the Syrian air force. There is no Russian presence in the skies over city. Their air force is active in the last few days in only one arena, Idlib in northern Syria. Its absence accounts for the Syrian rebel militias’ partial gains in the battle for Aleppo, and the Pro-Assad forces’ difficulties in holding them back.
Had the Russians provided solid air support for the Syrian army and its allies, our military analysts assert that the rebels would have been pushed back.
It is being withheld, according to our intelligence sources, because Moscow wishes to keep the door ajar for dialogue to continue with the Obama administration. The Russians are interested in particular in setting up with the Americans a joint military and intelligence coordination mechanism in Syria for fighting Islamist forces.
As the division of tasks is conceived in Moscow, the Americans would provide intelligence for the Russian air force to undertake the bombardment of targets to be marked by US intelligence.
An agreement in principle on this deal would necessitate direct communication lines to operate between their two active war rooms for Syria: the US-Jordanian and Russian-Jordanian joint command centers operating in Amman.
The Kremlin fears that Russian aerial intervention in the Aleppo fighting would put paid to the talks with Washington on this broad collaboration.
So long as those talks are underway,, neither the Russians nor the Americans are likely to step in to determine the military situation in the battle for Aleppo – which was once Syria’s commercial center. The fighting will continue to seesaw inconclusively between the warring sides.