Friday, September 30, 2016

Will Aleppo Be Syria's Dresden?

We could very well be seeing the start of one of history's bloodiest battles.

The story comes from YNET.

Syrian government launches Aleppo blitz

The Assad regime has launched its biggest ever ground assault against the rebels holding out in Aleppo, Syria's former economic capital; heavy fighting is being reported around the city; Hezbollah leader Nasrallah: 'there are no prospects for political solutions ... the final word is for the battlefield.'

Syrian government forces and their allies attacked the opposition-held sector of Aleppo on several fronts on Tuesday, the biggest ground assault yet in a massive new campaign that has destroyed a US-backed ceasefire.

The United States says the assault on Aleppo is proof that President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and regional allies have abandoned an international peace process to pursue victory on the battlefield after nearly six years of civil war.

Washington, which agreed a ceasefire with Russia this month that collapsed after a week, says Moscow and Damascus are guilty of "barbarism" and war crimes for targeting civilians, health workers and aid deliveries in air strikes.

More than 250,000 civilians are believed to be trapped inside the besieged rebel-held sector of Aleppo, where intensive bombing over the past week has killed hundreds of people, many trapped under buildings brought down by bunker-busting bombs.

One air raid killed 12 people from two families when it brought down a building on Tuesday, bringing the death toll in opposition districts to more than 30, said Bebars Mishal, a spokesman for the Civil Defence emergency service.

A video purported to be of the attack's aftermath showed emergency workers bringing an apparently lifeless, dust-covered body out of the wreckage in a cherry-picker crane.

Only about 30 doctors are left in rebel-held Aleppo, coping with hundreds of wounded each day who are being treated on the floors of hospitals that are bereft of supplies.

Senior combatants on both sides said pro-government forces were massing in several parts of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city before the war, now divided into a western zone held by the army and a smaller, besieged area held by rebels.

The commander of an Iraqi Shia militia fighting in support of Assad told Reuters a large force spearheaded by the army's elite "Nimr", or Tiger, forces had started to move in armoured vehicles and tanks for an attack on rebel-held areas.

Quelling the uprising in the city would give Assad his biggest victory yet of the war and deliver a powerful blow to his enemies.

It is far from clear whether an all-out attempt to storm the rebel-held area is planned soon: that would require a massive assault by the army, backed by Lebanese and Iraqi Shi'ite militias, Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Russian air power.

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