AMC on their Facebook page…

AMC on their Facebook page have reported air attacks today on Haritan and Kafr Hamra. These places are in rebel-held territory a couple of miles north-west of Aleppo’s outskirts and are currently well-separated from the Euphrates Shield advance southwards towards Al Bab or, indeed, if it subsequently swerves westwards, Aleppo itself. The Russian defence ministry announced today the establishment, again, of corridors from Aleppo East for fighters and civilians alike. These corridors are due to appear on Friday. The while it appears Russian bombing remains muted (so, the attacks to the north may have been by Assad’s air force only). At the same time, the FSA, speaking from the the Fatah Halab joint operations room, has today announced the start of a new military phase, with much emphasis placed, in this manoeuvre, on accurate targeting of enemy military only. This actually ties in with the Russian approach, the theme ending civilian death (“senseless victims” – Valery Gerasimov, today). The Russians have also during the last day or two placed great emphasis on the distinction between legitimate opponents of the régime, such as FSA, and illegitimate opponents, such as Nusra (renamed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham). Nusra is a significant element within Aleppo East. On Friday, fighters, with their weapons, may leave unharmed via two of the announced corridors (for which, incidentally, no online map appears yet to have published). Personally, I cannot see any of them taking up this offer unless a friendly force replaces them. They will not simply walk out of Aleppo East and leave the place to Assad, whose snipers in the other part of the city play games with what targets they’ll pick off today, whether pregnant women or small children, or whatever takes their fancy (see Dr. David Nott’s descriptions of the style of sniper injuries he treated in the city – there were patterns). So, I suspect these corridors will not achieve their intended result on Friday. However, they may be seen as preparatory. Logically, the FSA to the north-east, currently pushing through Deash/PKK (latter term used loosely) territory and working in close collaboration with Turkey, may lure Nusra towards their lines, there being plenty of common ground, despite differences, between those two forces, but absolutely none between Nusra and Assad. It’s really a case of labelling. The Russians cannot treat with a group with which, widely, “bad” Islamism is identified and which Russia has used to delegitimise the whole revolution and legitimise Assad, in its propaganda. But, it can with revolutionaries overtly supported by a Muslim state with which it has restored friendly relations: Turkey. Finally, Russia appears powerless to curtail Assad’s air force entirely (in addition to the above, a report has just come in of a barrel bomb attack to the west). By extension, it cannot sort out the Assad problem wholly on its own and thus needs Turkey and Turkey’s Syrian irregulars (even if one or two of them were once in Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) as its local teeth arm. Sources for this writing will be posted under as a comment.

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