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Syrian Showdown: Russia, Iran Rally Forces, US Rearms Rebels As "Promised" Battle For Aleppo Begins

Tyler Durden's picture




 

On Friday, we previewed the battle for Aleppo, Syria’s largest city prior to the war. 

It’s now run by a hodgepodge of rebels and militants including al-Qaeda, the Free Syrian Army, and ISIS and for the Assad regime, regaining control of the city is absolutely critical. As Reuters noted last week, "the assault means the army is now pressing insurgents on several fronts near Syria's main cities in the west, control of which would secure President Bashar al-Assad's hold on power even if the east of the country is still held by Islamic State." 

In other words, if Assad can secure Aleppo, Iran and Russia will have successfully restored his grip on the country for all intents and purposes. 

Here’s a look a map showing where Aleppo is in relation to Russia’s base at Latakia, along with the before and after images we highlighted last week which depict nighttime light emissions on the way to vividly demonstrating the effect the war has had on the city.

For reference, this is one of Syria's most war-torn areas. To give you an idea of what's taken place there since the war began, we present the following stark visuals from in and around the city ca. 2012 (as you might imagine, it's only gotten worse since):

And here's a short audio clip from NPR which explains why Aleppo matters (it's largely objective and thus worth the three minutes):

The offensive is also notable for the scale of Iran’s involvement.

Between Hezbollah and Iranian forces, the battle for Aleppo is shaping up to be the largest ground operation orchestrated by Tehran to date. Underscoring how deeply involved Iran truly is, Quds Commander Qasem Soleimani (who we profiled here) showed up near the frontlines late last week to rally the troops. Here’s GOP mouthpiece Fox News (who are most assuredly not Soleimani fans): 

Iran's shadowy top military commander has been spotted in Syria addressing Iranian military officers and members of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, according to photos that emerged Thursday on social media.

 

Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani -- the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or Qods Force -- was pictured rallying Iranian military and Hezbollah members in western Syria in photos that appeared on Twitter.

 

On Thursday, Reuters confirmed Soleimani's presence in the western province of Latakia in Syria. The news agency said Soleimani was seen addressing Iranian officers and Hezbollah fighters with a microphone while clad in dark-colored clothes.

Here are the images Fox references:

As WaPo, goes on to point out, some of the fighters called to Syria by Soleimani are from Iraq's Shiite militias, supporting our contention that as soon as Syria is "secure" (whatever that means in this context), Russia and Iran will take the fight across the border, where militiamen loyal to Tehran are already battling Sunni extremists:

Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds forces and the public face of Iran’s military intervention in the region, has ordered thousands of Shiite militiamen into Syria for an operation to recapture Aleppo, according to officials from three Iraqi militias. The militiamen are to join Iranian troops and forces from Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite militia, the officials said. The Iraqi Shiite militia Kitaeb Hezbollah has sent around 1,000 fighters from Iraq, one said.

 

The new arrivals shore up the position of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose beleaguered forces had been losing ground before Russia began launching airstrikes three weeks ago. Pro-government forces have claimed victory in a string of villages around the Aleppo in recent days, in a conflict that Shiite militias frame as a single regional struggle between Shiites and Sunni extremists from the Islamic State.

 

“It makes no difference whether we’re in Iraq or Syria, we consider it the same front line because we are fighting the same enemy,” said Bashar al-Saidi, a spokesman for Harakat al-Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an Iraqi Shiite militia that says it has fighters around Aleppo. “We are all the followers of Khamenei and will go and fight to defend the holy sites and Shiites everywhere," he said, referring to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

 

The Lebanese group Hezbollah and the Quds Force, which is part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, have also sent reinforcements, he said. Last week, a U.S. defense official said hundreds of Iranian troops were near the city in preparation for an offensive.


“It’s not a secret. We are all fighting against the same enemy,” said Saidi.


His militia released a photo of Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, with its fighters near Aleppo on one of its social media accounts last week.

 

“The operation is an extension for our operations in Iraq because it’s the same enemy, and when we hit them there it means that it will get results in Iraqi lands,” the Kitaeb official said. Soleimani “specifically requested they go there for the launch of the operation for Aleppo,” he said.

And here's a look at an airstrike map which delineates bombing runs by date, thus giving you an idea of the extent to which the Russians targeted Aleppo last week to soften up the rebels ahead of the offensive:

Meanwhile, as Russia revved up the Sukhois and the shadow commander rallied the ground forces, the US rearmed the rebels. Here’s Reuters:

Rebels battling the Syrian army and its allies south of Aleppo say they have received new supplies of U.S.-made anti-tank missiles from states that oppose President Bashar al-Assad since a major government offensive began there on Friday.

 

Rebels from three Free Syrian Army-affiliated groups contacted by Reuters said new supplies had arrived since the start of the attack by the army backed by Iranian fighters and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

 

A number of rebel groups vetted by states opposed to Assad have been supplied with weapons via Turkey, part of a program supported by the United States and which has in some cases included military training by the Central Intelligence Agency.

And so, with the proxy war lines clearly drawn, the battle has begun. Via WSJ:

Syrian pro-regime forces backed by Russian airstrikes have expanded their ground offensive to the strategic city of Aleppo, one of the clearest signs yet of how Russia’s recent military intervention has emboldened President Bashar al-Assad and his loyalists.

 

In the bitterly fought multi-sided war, Aleppo is among the most coveted prizes. Losing partial control of the city, which was once Syria’s largest and its commercial capital, was an embarrassment to the regime. But with the backing of Russian warplanes, Iranian forces and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, Mr. Assad’s forces could now be in position to regain large parts of the city and the surrounding countryside.

 

“I suspect Assad always wanted to take back Aleppo because it is such an important city and retaking it has such strategic and symbolic importance,” said Emile Hokayem, a Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based military and security think tank. “And it would deny the rebels a foothold in any major city.”

 

Since Friday, the regime has netted a number of villages on the southern outskirts of the city and thousands of civilians are fleeing fighting in the area. On Sunday, the regime captured one additional village and U.S.-backed rebels destroyed two regime tanks using American-supplied weapons as they tried to stem the regime’s progress.

 

The regime appears to be advancing westward toward the strategic highway linking Aleppo with the capital Damascus, rebels said.

 

In a rare move, the offensive is being led by regime-allied Iranian fighters, according to Ahmad al-Ahmad, a spokesman for the moderate Islamist rebel group Faylaq al-Sham, which is involved in the battles.

 

The city of Aleppo is now divided in two, with an array of rebel factions controlling the eastern half and the regime holding the western half.

 

The regime’s ground offensives over the past two weeks have been led by fighters and military advisers from Iran and forces from Hezbollah, supplemented by Syrian security forces.

 

So far the battles in Aleppo are concentrated in the southern countryside on multiple fronts pushing toward the crucial highway that links the city with the coastal province of Latakia and the central provinces such as Hama, rebels said.

 

One of the goals of the offensive could be to prevent rebel reinforcements from Aleppo being sent to help fighters along other fronts. Rebels also report an amassing of pro-regime forces elsewhere in Aleppo province that could be aimed at cutting off the rebel supply route from Turkey.

 

Such moves could severely weaken the array of rebel forces in Aleppo, which include Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham and al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front as well as U.S.-backed rebels.

Note how shockingly close this is to an actual shooting war between the US/NATO and the Iran-Russia "nexus."

CIA-trained rebels are now using weapons supplied by the US to kill Iranian soldiers backed by Russian airstrikes. The fact that the ground invasion is now clearly run by Iran and Hezbollah means that one side of the "rebels vs. SAA" proxy label has been removed. This is now "rebels vs. Iran and Russia", meaning there's literally but one degree of separation from an outright NATO vs. Russia-Iran armed conflict. And don't forget: the nation through which the US is suppliying the rebels at Aleppo (i.e. Turkey) just shot down a Russian drone. 

And so, as we wait to see whether the US will finally step in on behalf of its proxy armies before they are routed in the most critical battle yet in the war for Syria, we leave you with a few still shots taken over the weekend in Aleppo.

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Mon, 10/19/2015 - 13:05 | 6685540 RawPawg
RawPawg's picture

Game On?

Just shooting the can down the road?

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 16:06 | 6686434 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

Tyler, a number of comments have been disappearded, mine included.  What's up?

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 17:17 | 6686747 Alvin Fernald
Alvin Fernald's picture

What type of comments have disappeared?

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 17:23 | 6686774 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

The comments were running pretty strong anti-war, otherwise I have no idea.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 17:36 | 6686830 Took Red Pill
Took Red Pill's picture

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! See if this disappears.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 17:42 | 6686858 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

I was thinking of flipping, instead.  You know, "Fuck Syria, man," "Sow salt in their soil," "This time drop 100 tons of Ammo to ISIS, fuck Russia and Assad's chemical weapons."

How'd I do?

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 18:51 | 6687153 NidStyles
NidStyles's picture

Desert rats doing what desert rats do best, kill each other over spaghetti monsters in the sky. 

 

All of these middle-eastern assholes are the same, they are pro-their tribe, and will kill anyone that doesn't bow to them. Jew, Sunni, Shi-ite. Doesn't matter they are all the damn same. 

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:10 | 6687227 Chupacabra-322
Chupacabra-322's picture

The headline is completely wrong. The Crimjnal Fraud UNITED STATES, CORP. INC. & Pure Evil Psychopaths at the CIA arm Terror Organization is more like it.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:27 | 6687288 logicalman
logicalman's picture

Reality....

Joe Syrian and his wife Joan just want to have a place to live, food on the table and clothes on their backs with enough to spare to look after their kids.

All being fucked over by total fucking arseholes who think they have the right to play criminal and evil games with other people's lives.

Fuck, what a world.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:48 | 6687408 NidStyles
NidStyles's picture

It isn't easy being a choosenite, God's work is thankless and hard... 

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:55 | 6687441 johngaltfla
johngaltfla's picture

Yeah, this isn't going to end well for Obama's friends. In the mean time, enjoy watching how a war is fought, to win that is;

And More Bad Ass Video from Russia’s Attack on Islamofacists in Syria
Mon, 10/19/2015 - 21:02 | 6687727 Charles Wilson
Charles Wilson's picture

JGF-

One thing missing from your stirling analysis: The Double-Cross.

You know it's there when an old Alzheimer's victim is dying from a Coup (Not "Croup".  Not Andropov's, "He had a cold..."  He's dying from  COUP!  Look it up!).

 

"I am the Ruler of the House of Saud. All I see I own.  All I own I...I... Urrrrupp...Aaaaackk....Splliiiishh..."Uhhhh"..." <Head smashes on marble floor>

Follow-up: ""Hey, Joe, howd'ja like to represent the US at the State Funeral of the King of Saudi Arabia, huh?..."

Uhhh...I'm kinda like all full up schedule wise, ya'know? 

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 21:28 | 6687828 johngaltfla
johngaltfla's picture

The Saudis have a bigger problem:

They are running out of US Treasuries to sell. The Camel Rapists may soon have to liquidate all of their US equities to raise cash. NOW THAT will be fun to watch. Beer and popcorn city baby.

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 01:20 | 6688344 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

All that blood. Must be progress. That is so messed up.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 17:44 | 6686871 emersonreturn
emersonreturn's picture

ignatius,

agree, i've been wondering if paveway IV (whose posts are succinct, brilliant & to straight to the bone), has caught the attention not merely of the trolls but TPTB?  fearing his observations are not simply dead on but classified?  we've all known we are observed.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 18:26 | 6687063 new game
new game's picture

my comments don't hit "nerve central", HA

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 20:40 | 6687644 conscious being
conscious being's picture

Classified? You think the Pentagram calls up Tyler and says, " Hey, son Uncle Sam here. You have some classified material in your comments section. Pull it now."? And Tyler jumps on that? Tyler would be in on it too!?! Oh, no.

In any case, Paveway, if you see this, can you repost?

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 20:49 | 6687675 emersonreturn
emersonreturn's picture

cb,

i hope you are right & paveway responds.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 22:17 | 6687961 Paveway IV
Paveway IV's picture

"...i've been wondering if paveway IV...has caught the attention not merely of the trolls but TPTB?..."

I spent six months at a CIA black site getting waterboarded, rectally fed and scopolamined... yeah, I would have to argue that they finally caught on. 

"...fearing his observations are not simply dead on but classified?..."

Of course they're classified - I work as a limited hangout for the U.S. government now. Everything I write is scripted. Do you think I want to be rectally fed hummus again? They can't even make their hummus right - it's only suitable for rectal feeding.

I can't remember all of my original reply to Latina Lover. It went something like this: Original attack on the Aleppo Thermal Power Plant was last week. That plant powers pumps that fill the water canal that runs from the Euphrates to Aleppo. No city water means Aleppo is drinking filthy, polluted well water. Imagine drinking from a shallow old water well dug in the middle of New York City or Chicago. Now add a thousand years to that - Aleppo is old.

Interesting thing about the U.S. bombing is that tweets about it were deleted from Twitter and those accounts deleted. Facebook - same thing. Google is not doubt also 'managing' search results, but I haven't been tracking that specifically any more. You're not suppose to know about 1) U.S. committing war crimes by targeting civilian infrastructure, and 2) the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo compounded by loss of electricity and running water. This is to ensure 3) no connection is made between the U.S. bombing and Aleppo residents increasingly dying of renal failure, dysentery or cholera. 

People have speculated that this is all meant to cause people still in Aleppo to panic and flood west towards Turkey/border refugee camps. This would mask head-choppers fleeing as well, or otherwise mask opposition activity from the intense Russian surveilance. Lack of clean water also affects SAA/Hezbollah/Iranian troops as they have nothing like U.S. logistics networks - they depend on local water.

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 05:13 | 6688453 conscious being
conscious being's picture

Thanks PW. Two observations about the BBC map. 1) I see the "rebels" have the Golan Heights border with Israel covered. What a bad joke. The ready for matyrdom jihadis won't attack Israel. Istead they hide under Israeli protection ... for now. 2) I read the USAF attacked the Allepo power station twice. The last one just a few days ago on 10/18, but 2nd, recent strike doesn't seem to have made it to the BBBC map.

More on the two Aleppo power stations bombed by USAF from moonofalabama.org

 

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 10:37 | 6689373 emersonreturn
emersonreturn's picture

paveway, pleased you survived...yes, thank you for your observations, clearly i need to examine my paranoia. ;-/

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:17 | 6687253 corsair
corsair's picture

Someone got banned (it seems to be The Indelicate Genius). That person's comments got deleted together with all other embedded posts.

As for the reason of banning, AFAIK the only reason that will get someone banned on ZH is spamming.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 20:42 | 6687646 conscious being
conscious being's picture

Thanks for the explanation.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 21:02 | 6687728 Blankone
Blankone's picture

BS on the reason.  I can personally attest that you can have your postings and be banned without doing any spamming.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 23:43 | 6688176 Socratic Dog
Socratic Dog's picture

He hasn't been around long if he thinks spam is the only thing you get banned from the Hedge for.

The best posters  get banned.  it's a badge of honor.

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 03:29 | 6688457 corsair
corsair's picture

One year is more than enough to observe a pattern.

You can say anything you want on ZH, but if you keep pushing a single agenda over the edge by posting the same thing ad-nauseam, eventually you will get banned.

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 10:16 | 6689284 Socratic Dog
Socratic Dog's picture

Only if it's an anti-zio agenda.

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 03:40 | 6688467 corsair
corsair's picture

BS on your attest. What you consider spamming and what owners of this site see as spamming might not be the same thing.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:29 | 6687317 NoPension
NoPension's picture

Somebody remind me. Who are the " good guys" , again please?

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 20:43 | 6687650 conscious being
conscious being's picture

The Russians of course. Besides, they do make the best videos.

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 01:53 | 6688381 Peak Bull
Peak Bull's picture

The Russians will not look like heroes when the war is over, and they remain in the region.

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 06:17 | 6688579 QuisnosRepublic
QuisnosRepublic's picture

No one will be heros when the real weapons fall on these nations. These new Nuclear weapons leave no prisoners. The US plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with the region and who will pay? The people will, as they will be taxed into oblivion and set upon by the trained terrorists of the CIA. 

control where you live get to know your neighbors, your city councils, your county commissioners your sheriff. People working together will win this but individuals will become fair game.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 21:09 | 6687757 logicalman
logicalman's picture

Looking more and more like there aren't any.

I used to believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 06:25 | 6688585 nmewn
nmewn's picture

The cavalry is not going to come galloping over the hill to the rescue, the good guys have always died alongside the bad guys with their hands around each others throat, locked in the eternal embrace of their last moments on earth.

Yes, there is no tooth fairy, no Santa Claus, no Superman and there will always be times when you see a man drenched in the blood & gore of another and wonder to yourself, is this victorious warrior the good or the evil standing before me?

Either way, it's best to prepare yourself ;-)

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 16:36 | 6686561 junction
junction's picture

If Nixon was President and he was caught arming ISIS rapist murderers, he would be charged with treason, since the chief backers of ISIS were responsible for 9/11.  You know, the Saudis.  Nixon would never do that, though, he believed in the U.S. Constitution, not Sharia law.  Unlike Obama.

---

Disappearing in 9,8,7,. . .

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 17:22 | 6686766 Macon Richardson
Macon Richardson's picture

When the Osama-did-it story began to fall apart, the Saudis-did-it story began to take shape, pushed along by Daniel Hopsicker. But that is just a fall-back story. We can take a pretty good guess who really did 911.

I wonder how Dick Cheyney is doing these days?

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 17:47 | 6686876 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

Cheney?  I hear those Iraqi, Palestinian and Syrian children body part replacements were just what the doctor ordered.  He'll be fine.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:09 | 6687225 willwork4food
willwork4food's picture

Hopefully getting a little nervous about his coming invite from Hell.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:25 | 6687293 Baby Bladeface
Baby Bladeface's picture

Does not want in Hell or in Heaven Mr. Cheney.

Purgatory does not kick and those poor souls such punishment not deserved.

While supernatural can kicking and Mr. Cheney lives still.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:31 | 6687324 logicalman
logicalman's picture

If the devil did, in fact, exist, he'd be repulsed by Cheney.

 

 

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:54 | 6687431 nosam
nosam's picture

Theres no point in driving a stake thru Cheneys heart, He will just go out and get another one.

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 00:21 | 6688254 jeff montanye
jeff montanye's picture

cheney yes, but rumsfeld too.  and larry silverstein had to have been brought in pretty early, rabbi dov zakheim too.

i wonder when young bush learned of the plan.  when he was listening to my pet goat?  i think earlier considering the interesting look on his face when the spelling words immediately prior were Kite, Hit, Steel, Plane, Must.  kite plane must hit steel? what are the chances?

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:10 | 6687229 Antifaschistische
Antifaschistische's picture

The Syrian blasting is terrible, but we have nothing to be sorry for....KBR is standing by waiting to help them rebuilt about $20 billion worth of infrastructure.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 21:23 | 6687806 Trogdor
Trogdor's picture

When the Osama-did-it story began to fall apart, the Saudis-did-it story began to take shape...

I'm sure there are a lot of participants, but the architects were probably the same ones as have authored multiple false-flag attacks on the United States: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVHstSrC1CQ

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:28 | 6687307 lakecity55
lakecity55's picture

No. Soleimani is like Patton. Men will follow him into battle. He is a Leader and a soldier.

As will the Russians follow Vlad, also a stone killer (if he needs to be).

The alciaduh should just give up. These guys won't waste time chopping off heads for videos. They will just kill you and blow up your stuff.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 13:06 | 6685542 Soul Glow
Soul Glow's picture

If the actual US MIC rode in then it would be a real war, but Russia and Iran will kick the shit out of these US led rebel groups.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:30 | 6687319 lakecity55
lakecity55's picture

They would just as likely kick US ass all the way back to their pink barracks.

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 19:59 | 6687463 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

If they did, they would obliterate Syria but then Israel and the Saudis would get nuked... then what?

 

 

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 00:17 | 6688247 FIAT CON
FIAT CON's picture

The US has not fought a real enemy with missles and fighter jets for a long long time. My guess is they are not willing to make that happen anytime soon.

 

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 13:06 | 6685544 Zero-Hegemon
Zero-Hegemon's picture

Cursed by geography, and even worse by the money power

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!