Syria’s offensive to recover lost ground in Aleppo is fast crystallising an American-backed anti-regime military alliance in the region with Turkey as its frontline state.
On Saturday, government forces and the armed opposition clashed in the Aleppo’s al-Furqan and Sleiman al-Halabi neighbourhoods, state media reported. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights, 29 people were killed in Aleppo on Saturday out of a total of 168 who died across the country during the day. Fighting in Syria has spiralled after a recent bomb blast killed the country’s top four security officials, including the defence minister.
As Syrian forces consolidate around Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital, the drumbeat of an impending human catastrophe — the perfect recipe for an international “humanitarian intervention” — is growing louder by the day.
After meeting Turkish Premier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in London that Britain and Turkey were “concerned” that the Syrian government led by President Bashar-al Assad was about to carry out "some truly appalling acts around and in the city of Aleppo".
On his part, Mr. Erdogan was even more compelling in making a case for intervention. "There is a build-up in
Aleppo, and the recent statements with respect to the use of weapons of mass destruction are actions that we cannot remain an observer or spectator to," he observed.
In Abu Dhabi, Abdelbasset Sida, the visiting head of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), addressing a news conference on Sunday, warned that the groups’ “friends and allies will bear responsibility for what is happening in Aleppo if they do not move soon.” Some analysts point out that the opposition and its supporters want Aleppo to play the rear-base role that Benghazi performed in the anti-regime revolt in Libya.
With Russia and China blocking the United Nations Security Council as the route for the imposition of sanctions or worse against Syria, Mr. Sida called for action against Damascus “from outside the Security Council through an Arab League initiative and through a resolution passed by the General Assembly”.
In tandem with Mr. Erdogan’s observations, Reuters is reporting that the Turkish city of Adana, with the help of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is hosting a full-fledged “nerve centre” from where the anti-regime revolt is being directed. "It's the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom," Reuters said quoting a Doha-based source.
The formation of the centre in Adana — signalling Turkey’s transition into a full-fledged frontline state in the anti-regime rebellion — followed a request by Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud, the deputy foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, during a visit to Turkey.
With the armed opposition seemingly acquiring greater cohesion and coordination, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, addressing a media conference in Sochi asserted that, "Our Western partners ... together with some of Syria's neighbours are essentially encouraging, supporting and directing an armed struggle against the regime".
Mr. Lavrov, who has long opposed Western support for “regime change,” also said that it would be unrealistic to expect Syrian forces not to fight when armed fighters were occupying Aleppo. "How can you hope that in such a situation, the government will simply reconcile itself and say 'All right, I was wrong. Come on and topple me, change the regime'?"
Syrian forces engaged in combat allege that their country is being targeted by motley of Islamic extremists drawn from far corners of the globe, including Afghanistan, and neighbouring countries such as Tunisia and Iraq.
Corroboration about the involvement of al-Qaeda or similar groups in Syria has come from an unexpected quarter — the BND or the German intelligence service. In response to a parliamentary question, the German government basing its information on the BND disclosed that “around 90 terror attacks that can be attributed to organisations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July”.