The victory for al-Nusra Front and allied anti-Assad Islamist rebel groups, which are strangely backed by the United States, suggests that the “groundbreaking” victory for the terror groups may be short-lived
Washington-backed ‘moderate’ rebels, including a freshly rebranded al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda) and the violent Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham breached the Syrian government siege in the city of Aleppo on Saturday opening a corridor in the south marking a major setback for the Syrian Army supported by Russian airpower.
The United States claims that al-Nusra Front is not part of the ‘moderate’ group that is being supported, but by the admission of social media posts by al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham controlled accounts in the wake of the rebel breakthrough the two groups are intertwined in their fight in opposition to the Assad regime.
Although the rebels have broken the impasse in the near-term by fracturing the siege to bring in supplies and reinforcements, the battle over the city of Aleppo continues to rage on with Russia intensifying its aerial bombardment of rebel-held neighborhoods. The battle may be the most important in the Syrian conflict as each side struggles to regain control of the country’s largest city and former commercial hub.
The siege was fractured during a major offensive on Saturday when an alliance of over two dozen rebel groups, led by al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham forced the Syrian Army and allied fighters out of parts of the southern Ramouseh district taking control of a number of military colleges.
The rebels celebrated the breach as a major victory one week after they first began the counteroffensive and were initially turned back in a fierce round of fighting with Syrian forces. Fighters associated with the Army of Conquest alliance, a veritable haberdashery of rebranded al-Qaeda affiliates, coordinated in the neighboring Idlib province. Al-Nusra Front formally announced its rebrand and breaking of ties with al-Qaeda earlier this week citing as a motive a desire to improve coordination with local rebel groups.
Fighting alongside the Syrian Army supported by a Russian aerial campaign was Lebanaon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Hezbollah acknowledged the rebels advance, but added that airstrikes leveled on of the main military colleges that rebels had seized and occupied upon allied Syrian forces withdrawing.
Syrian State news agency SANA contends that the siege was not broken arguing that operations are ongoing in the area and that warplanes had bombarded rebel vehicles and locations in the area on Sunday. Video footage from Aleppo refutes the claim of the SANA news agency, but the success of subsequent airstrikes may mean that the rebels victory will be short lived.