Flynn-Patrushev Exchange Slows Aleppo Violence Ahead of Decisive Ending

US president elect Donald Trump this week addressed an urgent request to President Vladimir Putin: to hold off of bringing the bloody battle for Aleppo to a decisive conclusion. The request was relayed by Trump’s new national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in a conversation on Sunday, Nov. 20, with the head of the Russian Federal Security Council Nikolai Patrushev.
This is reported by DEBKA Weekly from its military and intelligence sources.
The request also applied to the Syrian army and its allies, the pro-Iranian Hizballah and other foreign Shiite militias which have been battling for nearly three months to evict the Syrian rebels from eastern Aleppo.
The president elect was guided in his request to Moscow by three motives:
1. A decisive Assad regime victory in Aleppo in the coming days would compel Barack Obama to respond with some kind of US military action, a happening which Trump and his advisers were anxious to avert before the president leaves the White House. Such action could upset the joint arrangements the incoming president was already putting together with Moscow.
2. The president elect would rather not have to deal with a triumphant Russia and Bashar Assad, high on winning the prize of Aleppo. This was already coming close. Shortly before the Flynn-Patrushev conversation, Syrian special forces were reported by Russian intelligence to have killed four top jihadist rebel commanders: Abu Al-Harith Al-Halabi, head of the Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, who was killed in clashes with the Syrian army in the Sheikh Sa’eed District of southern Aleppo; Umar Al-Hajji, commander of Harakat Nourieddeen Al-Zinki, who was killed by Syrian forces in the same district; and two commanders of the Karm Al-Jabal (Martyrs Battalion).
The Syrian army had thus sliced off the top levels of the most dangerous Islamist rebel forces hanging on in Aleppo.
3. Trump’s advisers feared, moreover, that the fall of Aleppo would prompt Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to rush in and send his army to capture the town of Al Bab, 55km north of Aleppo, from the Islamic State. This week, Turkey resumed its air strikes over the town after a three-week pause. The next US president’s advisers don’t recommend letting Turkey deepen its military penetration of Syria, except when its army is fully focused on fighting the Islamic State.
The first signs of a slowdown in the war momentum, including Syrian air strikes, against the rebels holed up in Aleppo were discerned by DEBKA Weekly’s military sources on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

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