Posted by Joshua on Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Reports from friends inside suggest that Aleppo is falling to rebel troops. Both major Christian areas – al-Syriaan al-Jadide and al-Syriaan al-Qadime have fallen. The regime’s largest Mukhabarat station is in the second area. FSA sharpshooters have gone to the tops of all buildings in these areas with no government opposition. The major Kurdish neighborhood – Ashrafiya – gave no resistance. The government had been counting on the Kurds to hold back the FSA fighters. If opposition troops can hold these neighborhoods in the center of town, it is bad news for the government. Regime seems to have cut it loose. (Correction at 3:oo SET – Syrian Army tanks appeared on al-Faisal street, the main thoroughfare of Aleppo that runs along al-Syiriyaan al-Jadide, causing the rebels to make a “tactical” retreat back into the Ashrafiyya neighborhood. This is what I am being told by Aleppine friends who are on the phone with relatives inside both these areas. They put sharpshooters on top of their buildings. One said the family’s Filipino maid fainted due to the loud shooting earlier in the day. People are terrified that the regime may try to strike with airplanes. For now (7:00 Eastern S. Time), an eerie silence has settled over the city. Where will the government try to hold the line?
Addendum: (3:30 pm EST) Government tanks were moved into Faisal street, the main thurowfair running the length of al-Syriaan al-Jadide and Qadime. Rebel troops made a tactical retreat back into the Kurdish neighborhood of Ashrafiyya.
It seems that the Kurds of Ashrafiyya changed their attitude toward the rebels, taking a neutral stand and allowing them through to temporarily spread into the Christian neighborhoods mentioned above. The superiority of Gov tanks means that the rebels remain diffident about taking on the Government troops directly.
Here is an email from one friend: (6:00 am EST) “I just got a frantic call from sister in Aleppo. The city of aleppo has largely fallen into rebel hands. They took over syrian jdide overnight. They are minutes from our house. As i have been for a while, this appears over”
Good reports estimate that rebel troops number (correction: 40,000 in city. Regime cannot devote troops in that number. They are trying to impress as many young men into the army as they can. But most young men are staying home and hiding from conscription.
Addendum: (11:00 am EST) A high rebel commander claims that the government troops in Aleppo do not exceed 6,000. The Shabiha are 2,000 and rebel troops are close to 40,000. He says the 70,000 number I had published earlier was an exaggeration. This commander is close to the top of the FSA command and planning.
Aleppine friend writes:
I predict that the city of Aleppo will fall decisevely and completely in the next 10 days. As I have been saying, the scales have tipped in favor of the rebels. The regular army has massive difficulty sending reinforcement into Aleppo to help the limited numbers it has on the ground. The ones remaining in Aleppo are stuck. Does the regime use its planes and long distance shelling to attack the rebels in these areas now? This is what the citizens fear. Or does the regime see the writing on the wall and cut Aleppo loose and look to defend Damascus and the coast?
My bet is that it will resist the decision to pull the trigger as of yet. But, over the next 10 days the facts on the ground will make this a fact.
Obviously all possibility for a cease fire seems off.
Some say the Syrian government is coming back to contest these areas. It is not clear.
The two Christian neighborhoods are here (thanks citizenGeo)
ـ مراسل عكس السير: الجيش الحر يحاصر فرع الأمن الجنائي في حي الأشرفية و شهود يؤكدون حمل عناصره مضادات طائرات
ـ مراسل عكس السير في حلب: عواصف رعدية وامطار غزيرة في معظم المناطق، والشوارع تغرقها السيول.
ـ مراسل عكس السير: سماع دوي قصف المدفعي تسمع في كل احياء مدينة حلب والاشتباكات مستمرة في الاشرفية والسريان الجديدة
ـ مراسل عكس السير: الجيش الحر يدخل حي السريان القديمة و يقيم حواجز فيه
ـ المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان: مقاتلو الجيش الحر يشنون هجوماً عنيفاً على الفوج 46 المحاصر منذ أكثر من 25 يوماً .
ـ مدافع النظام تقصف المناطق التي سيطر عليها الجيش الحر(الأشرفية ، السريان الجديدة ، السبيل خلف جامع الرحمن).
ـ عناصر و قناصة من القوات النظامية ينتشرون في مشفى ابن رشد الحكومي المجاور لفرع الأمن الجنائي .
Addendum (2:30 EST)
After more than two months of near stalemate, rebel groups have advanced into three regime-held areas of central Aleppo, edging them closer to a tightly-defended security district. While the day-long skirmishes mark the first time that swathes of …
A rebel fighter in Aleppo, Anu Yousef, said: “Brigades of the FSA were able to progress from al-Ashrafiyeh district where the Criminal Security branch is. There was also progress in al-Midan and Sulaiman al-Halabi districts.
“In Khan al-Assal district, there is a police school which was under siege by the FSA for 10 days now. The Syrian army were sending reienfocrements every day to ease the siege on it. Today a convoy was heading towards the school and was faced by fire from the FSA and could not get there.”
Intelligence and security bases, such as the Air Force Intelligence headquarters, are a prime target for rebel groups, partly because they represent pillars of regime power, but also because they are known to house thousands of detainees rounded up since the uprising began 19 months ago “The FSA had to take al-Ashrafiyeh district to be able to reach the Criminal branch – and they did,” said Abu Yousef. “The advance now is just around the Criminal Security and it is not easy to get control.”
“There are spots of power for the Syrian army like the Criminal Security in al-Ashrafiyeh, Political Security in al-Azziziyeh and Air Force security and intelligence in New Aleppo. If the FSA can liberate all these branches, we can say at that time that Aleppo has been liberated entirely.”
Rebels calimed that Kurdish groups, headed by the PKK, had facilitated their entry to the Ashrafiyeh district after a deal was struck for neither side to attack the other. The Free Syria Army has previously accused members of the PKK of siding with the Assad regime.
“The PKK had agreed not to interfere and not to support any side of the conflict,” said Abu Yousef. “We did not attack any members of the PKK [today], in fact they pulled out to clear the way for us. It was a deal that they would pull out before the arrival of the FSA. The clashes were with the Syrian army only. Since the beginning of the revolution the regime has been trying to keep the PKK on its side but I think now it is going to lose them.”