05:01 GMT +3 hours30 July 2016
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Syrian pro-government troops hold positions in the Syrian town of Ain al-Hanash near l-Bab in Aleppo's eastern countryside on January 26, 2015 as regime forces have recaptured the area from Islamist jihadists

The Syrian Army is Not Attacking Aleppo But Defending It

© AFP 2016/ GEORGES OURFALIAN
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Alexander Mercouris
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The Syrian conflict has seen many media distortions but there is one especially which I must take vigorous issue with.

The news media in the West portrays the recent fighting around Aleppo as a Syrian army attack on Aleppo.

Sometimes there is an admission that the government controls part of Aleppo. However overall the impression given is that Aleppo is a rebel city and that the Syrian government's army is attacking it.

This often comes with lurid claims of the Syrian airforce terror bombing ("barrel-bombing") its people — something that has now become part of the standard Western critique of President Assad.

This is an inversion of the truth.

Aleppo was previously Syria's biggest city and economic capital. Until 2012 it was under the government's control and reports from the city confirmed its people largely supported the government.

In mid 2012 the Syrian rebels launched their great offensive ("Operation Damascus Volcano") aimed at overthrowing the government. This included attacks on Syria's two biggest cities: Damascus and Aleppo.

The attack on Damascus was successfully repelled. In the case of Aleppo the rebels managed to capture a significant part of the city. However around half the city — the half which apparently has the majority of the city's people — remained under the government's control.

Aleppo has since been a battlefield between the two sides with many of its historic buildings destroyed.

Over the course of 2015 rebel offensives in Idlib province and in the countryside around Aleppo almost succeeded in cutting off the government controlled part of Aleppo from the rest of the country.  The government could only send reinforcements to Aleppo, and supplies for its garrison and people, by air.

Since the Russian military intervened in the conflict the position has reversed.

The Syrian army backed by the Russian airforce first succeeded in reopening the roads to Aleppo. 

Over the last few days it has managed to cut the road links to the rebel held section of Aleppo — effectively cutting off the rebels there.

In other words whereas it was the government controlled area of Aleppo which until a few months ago was encircled and besieged, now it is the rebel part.

The Syrian army's success has been made all the greater because at the start of January the rebels sent reinforcements to Aleppo to resist what they expected would be a government offensive there.

Now those reinforcements, together with the rebel fighters previously in the city, are encircled and trapped.

It would be a misrepresentation to say that all the people in Aleppo support the government and oppose the rebels.  However back in 2012 a rebel commander admitted that the majority did.

During the protests in 2011 that preceded the war — which properly began with the rebel offensive that was launched in mid 2012 — Aleppo held largely aloof from the protests — a fact the Western media at the time admitted.

That too suggests that the greater part of the people of Aleppo support the government, or at least do not strongly oppose it.

To say therefore that the Syrian army is attacking Aleppo is to distort the truth.

It is akin to saying that the Red Army in 1943 was attacking Stalingrad because the German army had captured most of it.

A more factual way of describing the fighting around Aleppo is to say that the city and its garrison have successfully withstood a three year siege by the rebels, which is now close to being lifted.

A still better way of putting it would be to say that the Syrian army is not attacking Aleppo but is successfully defending it.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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Syrian Army, Aleppo, Syria
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  • Wisdom Faith
    First syrian involved in that attack are all on opposition side, all assad force are foreign people. Second when they liberate a city,village etc the population are 0 (they all flee because they know they will die by torture) Third aleppo wasnt destroyed till now the scortched land russian tacktik of destroying every building just destroy another big city.
  • Bauisa Datikiin reply toWisdom Faith(Show commentHide comment)
    Wisdom Faith, damn thats a load of bs. How much bs can someone put in one post, quite a lot judging by you.
    "First syrian involved in that attack are all on opposition side, all assad force are foreign people." lol this is the inverse of truth, wast majority of moderate terrorists are foreign jihadis imported to Syria. SAA and NDF on other hand are 100% Syrians.
    "Second when they liberate a city,village etc the population are 0 (they all flee because they know they will die by torture)" Second, you're an idi0t, in villages that SAA liberates who are left with no population are like that because people escaped your moderate terrorists and ran away to territories held by Government or outside, vast majority of Syrian refugees are still in Syria and internally displaced.
    "Third aleppo wasnt destroyed till now the scortched land russian tacktik of destroying every building just destroy another big city." JFC you are even bigger idi0t than I thought, there is so much bs and ignorance there.
  • ivanwa88
    Wisearse is just a plant and a dumb troll even his name suggests he is a plant! his/her posts are the worst attempt at reverse psychology I have ever seen! and seeing that is a current world wide platform of CIA... guess what this guy is a wannabe wanker!
  • ivanwa88
    Getting back to the article; I think Sputnik has let us down not informing us long before now that Aleppo was still in partial control of city right from start! Sputnik we expect a lot better from you! what went wrong! why was this such a serious omission? for so long.
  • FlorianGeyerin reply toWisdom Faith(Show commentHide comment)
    Wisdom Faith, If you really wish to spread disinformation may I suggest that you ask for more 'troll' training from your NATO masters.

    You sound as stupid as the spokesmen/women from the US State Dept .
  • FlorianGeyer
    There was an article in the UK daily Telegraph today about the 'Attack by Assads forces' at Aleppo. The article was full of half truths and anti Russian innuendo's.

    The US/NATO cabal is in a bit of a tizzy.
    One part of me hopes that all the US sponsored terrorists in Aleppo are killed BUT another part of me would like to hold them in front of the world media whilst they say who was actually enabling their campaign of medieval terror.
  • elsa.zardini
  • tonyreganartin reply toWisdom Faith(Show commentHide comment)
    Wisdom Faith, Foolish Lack of Faith should seek an exorcist to treat inverted reality.
  • Mother Gorillain reply toBauisa Datiki(Show commentHide comment)
    Bauisa Datiki, agree, Erdogan is the much greater criminal than Assad. He killed loads of his people and let the terrorists into Turkey and Europe. There are also many Syrians in other parts of the Middle East, just waiting to return.
  • vendor
    How did these get in?


    In order to bolster the defensive capabilities of their Islamist allies on the ground, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have equipped the hard-lined opposition forces with 122 mm grad rockets; these missiles possess a larger impact and farther range than the current missiles in their arsenal.

    www.almasdarnews.com/article/islamist-rebels-receive-advanced-missiles-in-northern-aleppo | Al-Masdar News
  • contratechnologiam
    Mercouris is predictably well informed and very articulate. A journalist like him (or Escobar or Cunnigham) should be an inspiration to other journalists to always speak truth to power.
  • choticastilein reply toFlorianGeyer(Show commentHide comment)
    FlorianGeyer, Well said Florian!
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