Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Aleppo Bracing For Assad's Forces

Syria is in a state of civil war and has been for some time. Rebel forces have captured territories outside of the major cities and provinces of Hama and Homs as Assad's gaze has focused on retaking those areas. It's left outlying provinces to their own devices. They're running things without Assad's government goons in sight:
As the Syrian state recedes, the people in this village and villages around it are filling in the blanks with their own institutions and, for better or for worse, their own ideas about how a country should be run.

The rebels started taking control of these villages and towns a few months back, as the Syrian army focused on holding major cities.

The first thing the rebels do is take over the post office or the police station and set up shop as the local authority.

Each village or town has something different to offer the rebels. In Qurqanya, it's a school that during the summer break can be used as a kind of media center, with a few laptops and an Internet connection.

In the next town over, it's a hospital.

The head doctor says he might treat dozens of injured rebel fighters from all around this region in a single day. Places that treat rebels used to be totally underground — makeshift MASH units set up in people's houses.

In many parts of Syria, it's still like this. But more and more the rebels are coming out into the open and asserting their control.
While the fighting has receded from those areas, it's intensifying in and around Aleppo as Bashar al Assad's forces prepare to overwhelm the rebel forces in the sprawling city with artillery, airstrikes, and an armored assaults.

Civilians caught in the crossfire are attempting to get out of the way, but face hazards at every step of the way with gunfire erupting at every turn.
“We fear the government’s retaliation — may God help us,” said Ahmad, a resident of the southeastern Salaheddiin neighborhood, one of the first areas overrun with insurgents over the weekend. So many poured in from the countryside that they sometimes ended up fighting each other for control of individual streets, residents said.

People streamed out of the neighborhoods where the rebel soldiers claimed control, figuring they would be pounded by government forces, following the same pattern in one Syrian city after another during the course of the 17-month-old uprising. But some men stayed behind to protect their property from looters.

Tanks and troops normally deployed in nearby Idlib province began to lumber eastward toward Aleppo after suhur, the morning meal that comes before sunrise during the monthlong Ramadan holiday, fighters and activists said.

One column of an estimated 23 armored vehicles carrying soldiers and ammunition out of Jebel az-Zawiya, a rebel stronghold in southern Idlib, was attacked by local fighters, according to a local activist in Turkey who said he was in touch with the insurgents. Roughly a third of the vehicles were destroyed but the rest moved on toward Aleppo, he said.
Assad's prospects may be slightly improved on the battlefield, but his diplomatic contacts are getting hammered hard.

Turkey has cut trade ties with Syria in closing its border. At the same time, two more Syrian diplomats have defected:
Turkey sealed its border with Syria to trucks on Wednesday, effectively cutting off a trade relationship once worth almost $3 billion with the embattled nation, as regime forces fought to evict rebels from the country's largest city.

Two more Syrian diplomats, the envoy to Cyprus and her husband, the former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, have also defected, according to the opposition Syrian National Council, in the latest sign of fraying support for the regime among its own elites. The announcement follows the televised appearance Tuesday night of a defected regime general calling for a new Syria.

Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said deteriorating security was behind the closure of a border through which Turkey once exported food and construction materials to the entire Middle East, though the volume of traffic had dropped 87 percent since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.

No comments: