Rebel commanders are calling a renewed assault on Aleppo a “decisive” battle, but in reality neither regime forces nor rebels have been able to make decisive gains in a civil war that is sputtering into stalemate. Martin Chulov reports for the Guardian:
Fighting in Aleppo is reportedly heavier than at any point since rebel groups attacked the city on 19 July, with rebel leaders claiming they are nearing a “do-or-die” moment in their bid to claim the city.Speaking to the Guardian, Bashir al-Haji, commander of Tawheed brigade in Aleppo, said: “The decisive battle for Aleppo started at 4pm local time [on Thursday]. We wanted to surprise the Syrian army, which had started to creep forward towards the southern neighbourhoods.”
One fighter talked to Reuters by phone:
We reached the middle of Suleiman al-Halabi and liberated some neighborhoods so I am still optimistic. But I’m worried about our organization. We can’t force the regime out. At best, I think we can advance some of our positions.
Correspondents say there is no evidence yet of either side making “decisive” gains in Aleppo.Meanwhile, in Damascus, regime forces have swept through pro-rebel neighborhoods, arresting suspects. Earlier this week rebel forces set off car bombs and launched a brazen ground attack on a military base.Back and forth they go. Neither rebel nor regime forces are able to break the other. In a worrying development, rebel fighters in Aleppo are threatening to attack areas thought to be controlled by the PKK, a Kurdish rebel group that has so far stayed out of the Syrian war but has launched attacks Turkish military and police across the border.As this war drags on it will start to bleed across Syria’s porous borders and drag in communities in Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.