martes, 13 de diciembre de 2016

The Syrian army’s recovery of Aleppo and defeat in Palmyra: A mixed report of victory and defeat side-by-side

On the 12th of December 2016 the Syrian Arab Army has advanced into the bulk of the former areas held by rebels and several offspring groups of the Al Nusra Front in the Eastern part of the city. Up to the last reports, there is a remaining enclave South-east of Aleppo. Still the smell of the final recovery of Syria’s second city and economic hub was being felt since yesterday, when local residents celebrated the retake of the city from the rebel forces.

Only weeks ago the Syrian regime controlled around 85% of the urban area. An ever advancing movement enabled the army to take district by district off the insurrectionists. Joined by allies such as the Syrian Kurds, the Hezbollah, and the Russians along them, the regime has recovered the whole metropolitan area, except of one remaining enclave of armed branches that did not follow the general withdrawal of their brothers in arms, all willing to draw back to the Idlib province under their control still.

The all so long awaited victory might have fallen short in the media, as simultaneously to that, the ancient city of Palmyra, fortress of the desert retaken last year, fell back to the Islamic State along some airbases in the area that had been secured in the past and taken in a very costly manner and with a lot of Russian military support. Now back under their control, the frontline has again shifted in the central area of the country.

Firstly there are generally speaking improvements in the city of Damascus, and its outskirts, which have been retaking some enclaves either by force or by an agreement of withdrawal. As such the major East Ghouta area has lost some territory to the government. It looks as if the security has seen important improvements in those regards.

A defeat and a victory, or the other way around sure gives a mixed result at the end of the day. Still the psychological impact of the surrender of the main city under insurgent control has had its share. The Idlib province and the areas close to the Syrian-Turkish border taken from the IS are there to stay, unless the army and its allies undertake a military enterprise starting east from Aleppo. The further they could approach the governmental held enclave of Fouad, the sooner the remaining northern bulk of rebel held territory could see heavy losses coming soon.

Nevertheless the battle is far from over, especially if you consider how a gain can be undone in matter of days or hours. Whence the IS continues its retreat in part of its Iraqi held territory in and around Mosul, many fighters are being shifted to the areas around Palmyra in a fashion, which evidently took the Syrians by surprise. Thus the retake might give more headlines for Damascus and Moscow, which now have been overshadowed by its recent fall.

While the UN Security Council overall seems to be quite unhappy for the success of Bashar Al-Assad, as it could be read by the numerous times that Russia and China have vetoed the resolutions in recent days and weeks, unsuccessfully urging for a truce in the Syrian city. Otherwise they always emphasized the humanitarian crisis, etc. in order to call into question the liberation itself. It looks as if a defeat of a “moderate rebel” always will be put into that light, while the battle of Mosul clearly is put forward without the slightest concern for the civilian or armed population among them. As the veto power of the Security Council today favours the Russian and Syrian side, the Western media have saturated the web with the view of the people trapped inside the war. There were allegations about massacres made by the Syrian Army, lacking any proof attached, and even the alleged executions of civilians. All these punchlines are solely there to distract of the obvious superiority of the Syrian army over the Western puppets eager to topple the evil dictator of Bashar Al-Assad.

Their failure comes short to the expectations made by their sponsors, one of which are the US-Americans. The new president-elect has clearly stated his wish to cease the supplies to these rebels despite that the Congress has been pushing a bill contemplating the further arms supplies and money to the insurgents on behalf of the US. This outgoing Democratic administration will do what remains within their reach to help those trapped inside this war. Let’s see how Trump and his Secretary of State nominee will think about this and other issues pending in January 2017.

The current conditions, in favour of the Moscow-Damascus axis are in the verge of reversing the trend and give the government the advantage it had been looking for. Then also the Russian ally has been pushing to maintain their presence in the Mediterranean Sea and with airbases in the coastal area. If the Western powers manage to rearm and the local forces regroup again in their frontlines, it could be again a long time before anyone can call any advance, may it be with the Islamic State or the motley-crew-like groups operating on the ground.

For now the major victory of Syria has been accomplished: the retake of the city of Aleppo and its outskirts. Now comes to see if the remaining areas are likely to fall too, or how long will it take to the Syrian forces to completely regain the sovereignty and territorial integrity that any country wishes to have.