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Aleppo front: regime loses, but opposition at a standstill Open in fullscreen

Rami Sweid

Aleppo front: regime loses, but opposition at a standstill

Civilians continue to suffer as fighting rages in Aleppo [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 March, 2015

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Fierce fighting between opposition and regime forces continue in the Syrian city of Aleppo, with civilians bearing the brunt of any violence.

The Syrian opposition forces have fought a new round of battles against Syrian regime forces in the city of Aleppo and the surrounding countryside. The massive, unprecedented attack by the opposition forces in western Aleppo did not result in these forces making a significant advance, although the regime forces stationed at the Air Force Intelligence premises and its vicinity reportedly suffered huge losses.

The opposition forces also waged simultaneous attacks on regime forces' positions in the northern countryside of Aleppo and in various neighborhoods of the city and suburbs of Aleppo. The intensity of clashes between the opposition and regime forces in the Jamiyat al-Zahra neighborhood in Aleppo subsided after midnight Wednesday, after continuing for six consecutive hours. The clashes erupted after opposition forces detonated a huge amount of explosives under the Air Force Intelligence building, one of the most fortified Syrian regime's headquarters in the area.

Sources from the opposition in Aleppo said the Nusrah Front detonated more than 30 tons of explosives under the Air Force Intelligence building. This caused the demolition of the northeastern hallway of the building, which did not entirely collapse. The reason is that the building has a strong structure, which enabled it to resist attacks waged by opposition forces since July.

Syrian opposition forces have not been able to achieve any tangible progress in the western neighborhoods of Aleppo, extending all the way from al-Lairamoun neighborhood to the Jamiyat al-Zahra neighborhood, passing through the al-Jamiyah al-Maliyah neighborhood. All these are front lines between regime and opposition forces. Sources in regime-controlled areas in Aleppo said the regime sent large numbers of reinforcements to where the opposition forces are trying to advance in the Jam'iyat al-Zahra neighborhood.

Eyewitnesses told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the regime forces are building up a large number of troops in the area of Duwar Qortuba in the nearby Halab al-Jadeeda neighborhood, supported by 10 armored vehicles, including tanks and armored personnel carriers. The regime forces sent these reinforcements to the Jamiyat al-Zahra area, which opposition forces attacked before sunset Wednesday.

     Clashes erupted after opposition forces detonated a huge amount of explosives under the Air Force Intelligence building.

 

The activist Hasan al-Halabi told al-Araby that after detonating the explosives under the Air Force Intelligence building, Syrian opposition forces managed to advance toward the regime-controlled Jami al-Shami area in the Jamiyat al-Sayadila neighborhood. He said that they had to withdraw after the arrival of regime reinforcements, under heavy bombardment from regime aircraft.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that Nusrah, al-Shamiyah (Levant) Front, Jaysh al-Muhajirin (Army of Immigrants), al-Ansar (Supporters), and Ansar al-Khilafa (Supporters of the Caliphate), which took part in the attack, suffered casualties, with at least 14 killed. More than 20 were killed during the clashes, in addition to an unidentified number of regime troops killed after the opposition forces blew up the Air Force Intelligence building.

The building had been emptied of detainees and offices, turned into a barracks. It has served as a barracks since opposition forces advanced toward the region in July after taking control of the Lairamoun neighborhood, the Lairamoun industrial compound and the al-Jamiya al-maliyah neighborhood. These areas are situated on three sides of the Air Force Intelligence building.

In a separate development, the media office of Faylaq al-Sham (Legion of the Levant), one of the large opposition groups in the Aleppo countryside, said the group managed to sneak into the 'liberated area," located right to the north of Aleppo Central Prison in the north of the city. The infiltrating forces destroyed a regime guard post and killed 10 of its personnel.

In the same context, the 16th Division of the Free Syrian Army, whose troops are deployed in the northern Aleppo neighborhood, said its troops attacked the Greek Hospital and Saleh Jammal School in the Al-Ashrafieh neighborhood in northern Aleppo, which Syrian regime forces turned into a military position. Clashes also took place in the vicinity of the 80th Brigade area in northeastern Aleppo, where the regime forces are stationed, and in the vicinity of al-Nayrab Military Airport, to the east of the city of Aleppo.

In responce to the massive attack by opposition forces on the front lines in Aleppo and the surrounding countryside, Syrian regime forces could do nothing except randomly shell the neighborhoods and towns controlled by the opposition forces.

Syrian regime forces could do nothing except randomly shell the neighborhoods and towns controlled by the opposition forces.

SOHR said regime helicopters dropped two barrel bombs on the Bab al-Hadid neighborhood in the old city of Aleppo at noon on Thursday, killing at least 18 civilians. The bodies of eight of them were completely charred because of the explosion of a gas station.

The opposition forces sealed off the area a few days before the barrel bomb attack to set up sand barriers and prevent the regime forces' snipers from targeting civilians moving inside the area. The opposition forces reopened the area to civilian activity the day before yesterday. The regime forces responded by shelling the area, which led to a big massacre.

Regime helicopters also dropped a number of barrel bombs on the Masaken Hanano neighborhood in northern Aleppo and the area of al-Mallah, one of the northern suburbs of Aleppo the opposition forces recently managed to control completely. They also dropped barrel bombs on the Duwayr al-Zaytoun village and in the vicinity of the Bashkuy town in the northern Aleppo countryside.

In the past few weeks, Syrian opposition forces have regained the advantage on front lines in the city and countryside of Aleppo after repulsing the massive attack the Syrian regime troops launched on the northern Aleppo countryside to break the siege imposed on the pro-regime towns of Nubol and al-Zahra. The two towns have been under a military siege imposed by the opposition forces for more than two years.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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