Syrian conflict may escalate as troops tighten grip on Aleppo

In this citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network and taken on August 1, 2012, smoke leaps the air from purported shelling in Damascus. Syrian opposition activists say regime forces have swept through neighbourhoods south of Damascus in an operation that has inflicted casualties.   | Photo Credit: Anonymous

Syrian forces are tightening their grip on battle-torn Aleppo, forcing a stark choice on the anti-regime forces of either facing defeat or raising the level of fighting to the next level by acquiring technologically superior weaponry.

Syrian forces have busted a command center in Aleppo, where militants were using telecommunication equipment that had apparently been provided by Turkey, Iran’s state run Press TV is reporting. Nearly 150 anti-regime fighters have been killed, the channel said, and pointed out that there has been heavy fighting in Aleppo’s southwestern neighbourhood of Salahuddin and the southern district of Sokari.

With the military slowly expanding its control using heavy weaponry and helicopters, the opposition forces maybe equipping themselves with lethal shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles. NBC news reported on Tuesday that Turkey has supplied members of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), nearly two dozen man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS).

The report did not identify the specifics of the shoulder fired missiles, but Turkey produces under licence, the Stinger missiles that were used with deadly effect in Afghanistan against Soviet helicopters in the 1980s. The opposition too possesses heavy weapons as was confirmed on Wednesday by the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria. Sausan Ghosheh, the spokeswoman for the organisation said during a media briefing that "the opposition is in possession of heavy weapons including tanks".

Despite the setbacks in the battlefield, there appeared to be an element of bravado in statements emerging from the opposition camp. In Paris, opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun claimed that the opposition was committed to making Aleppo as its headquarters. "There will be nothing more that will stand in the way of the Free Syrian Army. Hama, Homs to the outskirts of Damascus have in large part been liberated," he asserted.

The opposition combatants may also find fresh support emerging from the United States. Reuters is reporting that U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a secret order that allows the CIA and other American agencies to support the opposition seeking to remove the Assad regime.

The order, known as an intelligence “finding,” was reportedly issued earlier this year.

On Wednesday, Venezuela joined Russia and China in supporting the principle of sovereignty in Syria. Russia’s ITAR-TASS News Agency quoted President Chavez as saying that problems in Syria should be internally resolved without outside interference. “In case there were problems in Syria they should be solved by the Syrian themselves and with peaceful means," he observed.

Facing the toughest challenge to his Presidency so far, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad said in a speech published by the official SANA news agency that Syria is engaged in a “crucial and heroic” battle that will determine the destiny of the nation.

“The enemy is among us today, using agents to destabilise the country, the security of its citizens… and continues to exhaust our economic and scientific resources,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 10:38:07 AM |

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