Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aleppo Under Siege As Assad's Forces Attack From Air and Golan Heights DMZ

Israel is contacting the United Nations over an incursion by more than 500 Syrian soldiers into the DMZ between Israel and Syria in the process of attacking rebel targets near the demarcation line.
Following the incident, in which 500 soldiers and 50 vehicles crossed into the demilitarized zone, Israel filed a formal complaint to the UN secretary general and to the president of the UN's Security Council, warning that the event may have serious ramifications.

Concern in Israel, in light of the situation in Syria, especially over Assad's chemical weapons stockpile and land-to-land missiles, is growing every day. In a meeting on Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consulted the heads of Israel's security establishment, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other senior cabinet members.

"We are monitoring the events in Syria closely and are prepared for any development to come," Netanyahu said in his opening statement.
At the same time, rebel forces are claiming that Bashar al-Assad's forces have dispersed chemical weapons to airports along Syria's borders as a threat against foreign countries from interfering in the brutal crackdown against the rebels. However, we need to keep in mind distances we're talking about here. The threat is that he's going to disperse and deploy them against foreign targets.

Damascus is 45 miles from the Golan Heights DMZ.

Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are only around 120 miles beyond that.

The distances are so small that the threat is the same regardless of where Assad is putting those weapons if he's going to use them against Israel via aircraft or long range missiles. Artillery delivering such weapons would have a shorter range, but that's something that the Israelis would see via their listening posts on Mt. Hermon. Israel would see something was afoot, though the reaction time would be less the closer to the border.

Dispersing the weapons means that the chances that they could fall into the wrong hands increases (terrorists or those who may have no idea what they're doing) increases. But since Assad is expanding its air campaign against the rebels, it's not beyond the possibility that despite his claims to the contrary, he could be preparing to use them against the rebel forces.

If Assad thought that trying to provoke Israel into engaging in a firefight would help his cause, he's seriously misguided since Syrians would see and respond that he's trying to bluff his way out of his predicament by blaming Israel (something he's done for far too long). And the last thing he wants to do is split his forces between going after the rebel forces and any kind of conflict with Israel and its technological superiority. He would unwittingly be playing right into the hands of rebel forces who lack the capability to neutralize the Syrian air force. If Assad brings Israel into the conflict, it would neutralize his air force, which is one of the few things holding the rebel forces at bay.

Recent reports indicate that Assad's now using fighter jets in addition to helicopter gunships. Until now, Assad's forces have used helicopters and artillery for long range attacks against the rebel forces.

Assad's forces have increasingly relied upon their air force to attack rebel forces, which is also about the only way Assad's loyalists can stay ahead of the rebels, who have managed to carry off spectacular advances in holding territory as well as attacks killing the highest echelon of Assad's security establishment.
Government helicopter gunships attacked Aleppo, the Local Coordination Committees, a network of on-the-ground activists, told NBC News. The Associated Press reported that warplanes circled in the air around the city, while the British Broadcasting Corp., citing one of its reporters near the area, said that fighter jets had bombed eastern parts of Aleppo.
With sequential rebel attacks on the country's two largest cities and a bombing that wiped out some of his top security advisors, President Bashar Assad reshuffled his top security posts, dismissing one general and appointing a national security council chief to replace the one killed in the recent attack.

Syria's rebels, outmanned and outgunned by the regime's professional army, have mounted a surprising pair of offensives over the last 10 days against the country's two major cities — Damascus and Aleppo. Even as the government appears to have snuffed out most of the rebel pockets in the capital, the rebels appear to be fight fiercely in the commercial hub of Aleppo in the north.

The government has instituted tight restrictions on outside news outlets working in Syria, making it difficult to verify many reports from inside the country.

Fighting spreads in Aleppo
The battle in Aleppo has spread from neighborhoods in the northeast and southwest of the city to previously untouched areas like Firdous in the south and Arkoub closer to the center, local activists and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
This is the fourth day of heavy fighting in Aleppo, which also includes a prison uprising that was brutally put down. There's also evidence that Assad's forces are using Iranian-made UAVs in spotting targets.

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