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Aleppo: Impending Battle [Ongoing Post]

[Image from Oman Observer] [Image from Oman Observer]

[This is an ongoing post and is updated regularly. It was first published/launched on 4 November 2016. Recent posts/updates are below. The reports of suffering become more devastating as you scroll down]

4 November 2016

The battle for Aleppo has been underway for some time, but is in all likelihood entering an even more critical and costly phase in terms of loss of human life. This post will be updated during the coming days to reflect what portends to be a potential calamity with serious implications.

Without a doubt, the parties that hold the initiative and ultimate responsibility for the consequences of this battle are the Syrian regime and the Russian forces, who seem to have identified today as the last chance for fighters and civilian alike to leave the rebel-controlled eastern part of the city. As expected, the call was not heeded as there is a complete lack of trust that any party involved will honor a safe exit for civilians. Rebels, of all varieties, had already rejected an offer to leave with their arms and vowed to remain and fight.

We will provide updates, not by the minute, as matters develop, and as the residents of east Aleppo brace for “impact” and bombs raining from the sky, and otherwise. West Aleppo residents are also expecting continued attacks and bombardment (below is a Channel 4 report from Aleppo).

Residents in eastern Aleppo are in dire need for food and medication, and will likely suffer in exponentially more devastating terms in the event of a prolonged bombardment and siege campaign.

The regional context and timing of this impending “decisive push” as some journalists in the region are calling it is significant. Some of the factors and processes that are shaping the battle for Aleppo or working in parallel with it are:

  1. The presidential elections in the United States are to commence and conclude in four days, on Tuesday, 8 November 2016. The battle is being propelled by a desire for a decisive take-over/advance or steadfastness/retaliation to establish ‘facts on the ground’ before the election outcome is determined.
  2. Mosul is under attack by nearly all parties to the Iraqi scene to control the city and oust ISIS from their largest Iraqi bastion. And the results so far speak of “success” and advancement against ISIS fighters, signaling perhaps a significant downturn in ISIS’ military prowess, and sense of invincibility. Whether the battle for Mosul does indeed prove successful in downgrading ISIS will have significant implications on the stability of both Iraq and Syria, as well as next steps.
  3. The Saudi-led war on, and bombardment of, Yemen continues, even if reporting on it has subsided recently—including the resulting starvation calamity. The US is directly involved in this war effort, as it is in Iraq and Syria, in a more or less direct fashion.
  4. With increasing involvement in Syria and Iraq, an ongoing unprecedented purge on dissent and the arrest of HDP leaders, Turkey’s post-failed coup instability continues. Turkish leaders have continued to assert their right in an even more direct role in both neighboring countries in an effort to consolidate Turkish influence there.

The rest of Syria’s territory continues to experience battles, offensives, and retreats. Millions of Syrians inside Syria and in neighboring countries are languishing in horrid conditions, but these are overshadowed by the “all about Aleppo” coverage. The chess match approach to covering Aleppo, even if it acknowledges a humanitarian cost, should not overshadow the daily suffering and deaths elsewhere.

Other factors and developments abound, and we will be highlighting them as they rise to further prominence. Your comments on what we may have missed, or contributions in the form of links and developments, are welcome at

Stay tuned.


Channel 4 News Report
(Inside Aleppo: a city divided and awaiting all out war)



8 November 2016

“Over the past few days, the Russian navy has assembled a sizable fleet in the eastern Mediterranean, made up of its only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, its biggest battle cruiser, the Peter the Great – both from its Northern Fleet, and the Admiral Grigorovich, a missile frigate.”

Russia to launch 'large-scale' airstrikes on Syria as Americans vote

12 November 2016

"The Telegraph last week saw hundreds of Syrian and Russian troops moving into position on the southern outskirts of Aleppo. One senior Syrian intelligence official told the paper that pro-government forces and their Russian allies may wait for talks with the new US president before beginning its offensive."

Russian warships arrive off Syrian coast ahead of 'final' assault on Aleppo

13 November 2016

"The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army had recaptured key areas including the western district of Dahiyet Al Assad and the village of Minyan outside the city. Regime forces also advanced south of the city, seizing two areas from the rebels. The reversals undo all of the progress made during a recent push by opposition fighters, including former Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fatah Al Sham, as they tried to end a government siege on the east of Aleppo city."

Syria regime reverses recent rebel gains in Aleppo

Heavy bombardment and airstrikes on Aleppo have resumed by the Syrian regime and Russia on 15 November, after a relative lull that lasted several weeks. The strikes leveled several buildings including the last remaining hospitals, and caused scores of casualties. The only specialized pediatric hospital in besieged east Aleppo has come under attack for the second time since airstrikes resumed on 15 November, destroying three floors and leaving it out of service. Three other hospitals have also taken direct hits, resulting in casualties among staff and patients and leaving two key surgical hospitals and the largest general hospital out of service.


16 November 2016

“A UN proposal to end heavy fighting in the city of Aleppo has been rejected by the Syrian government. Under the plan, rebel-held eastern Aleppo would remain under opposition control if rebel fighters withdrew. Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who met the UN envoy to Syria on Sunday, called the idea a violation of "national sovereignty."

Aleppo self-rule plan rejected by government 

17 November 2016

مئات الغارات الجوية الجديدة على أحياء حلب المحاصرة تدفع المدنيين لتمني الموت

يقول نشطاء وعناصر الدفاع المدني، في شرق حلب، المحاصرة من قبل قوات النظام، أن مئات من الغارات الجوية خلال الـ48 ساعة الماضية، ضربت الأحياء المحاصرة مما أسفر عن مقتل العشرات من المدنيين وتدمير حي بأكمله، يوم الأربعاء

وشنت الطائرات الروسية ما لا يقل عن 200 غارة جوية، في شرق حلب، يوم الأربعاء "مما أسفر عن مقتل 42 شهيدا وأكثر من 82 جريحا"، حسب ما قاله ابراهيم الحاج، مدير المكتب الإعلامي للدفاع المدني في حلب، لسوريا على طول.


10-16 November 2016

"The OES [Operation Euphrates Shield] has made major advances in the fight against ISIS in northern Aleppo over the past few weeks. With the recent advances, the battle for al-Bab has now officially begun. Should OES succeed in taking the city, advancing opposition and Turkish forces will find themselves in very close proximity to government positions to the south, raising the risk of direct confrontation between OES and government forces. Persistent infighting by opposition forces in the area indicates weak centralized control over the advance, further increasing the risk of a new front opening in the conflict in the near future."

Syria Conflict Mapping Project Reports Nov. 10-16, 2016

10-18 November 2016

“Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu announced the start of a “major operation” allegedly targeting ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Idlib and Homs Provinces. The operation included sorties by Su-33 ‘Flanker-D’ fighter jets launched from the Russian Aircraft Carrier ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea as well as cruise missile strikes by naval warships and strategic bombers. Local activists also reported the resumption of intense airstrikes against opposition-held districts of Aleppo City.”

Syria Situation Report: November 10-18, 2016

19 November 2016

This is a dark day for east Aleppo. The severity of the bombing has inflicted huge damage on the few hospitals working around the clock to provide medical care,” says Teresa Sancristoval, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency coordinator. “The attacks have destroyed entire hospitals, electric generators, emergency rooms and wards, forcing them to stop all medical activities. It is not only MSF that condemns indiscriminate attacks on civilians or civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, but also humanitarian law. The message is simple and I don´t know how to say it any louder: stop bombing hospitals.

Multiple direct and indirect hits on hospitals in east Aleppo in the last forty-eight hours

19 November 2016

“All what we have experienced in the past seems like a joke compared to the crimes being committed in Aleppo today…we don’t even have the energy to speak with the media. There is nothing we can do . . . there is no longer a way to get into Aleppo to provide relief except by parachute. We are completely inept now.”

A chilling report by the head of the Union of Medical Relief Organizations from east Aleppo, Zaidoun Zu`bi, about the unprecedented devastation experienced today  


20 November 2016

"At least 64 people have been killed by government airstrikes in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, Syria, since Thursday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Rebel shelling has killed 13 people in government-held western Aleppo during that period."

Aleppo Bombs Leave Quarter Million ‘Living in Hell’ and Without Hospital Care

21 November 2016

“Scores of airstrikes, hundreds of barrel bombs and more than 1,000 artillery shells have killed at least 300 east Aleppo civilians and shut down the city’s last remaining hospitals, one week into Russia and the regime’s latest campaign “to kneel or else.””

No hospitals left in east Aleppo after intense barrage, ‘the streets are dead silent’ as hundreds killed


21 November 2016

حلب: 10 قتلى بينهم أطفال في قصف للمعارضةحلب-10-قتلى-بينهم-أطفال-في-قصف-للمعارضة/


21 November 2016 

"According to the World Health Organization, there are no functioning hospitals available to those trapped in eastern Aleppo following attacks this week that targeted the area’s health facilities. There are some services still available through smaller clinics, WHO said, but the only pediatric facility in the area is now out of service.

The recent uptick in attacks has hit both sides of the besieged city. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, eight children — aged between 6 and 12 — were killed when a school in the government-held part of Aleppo was hit by rebel shelling. Two adults were also killed in the strike."

Hundreds die as Aleppo is hit by heaviest bombings


19-21 November 2016

Casualties and injuries in airstrikes on Aleppo city and clashes north and south


22 November 2016

The following article on northern Syria by Souhaib Enjrainy focuses on the Kurdish-controlled area 

خلال سنوات الحرب سُلط الضّوء على نحو كثيفٍ على المقاتلين الأجانب في معظم المناطق السوريّة باستثناء مناطق نفوذ الأكراد في الشمال السوري. وفيما انشغلت وسائل الإعلام بالتركيز حيناً على «الجهاديين» الأجانب، وآخر على القوّات الأجنبيّة الداعمة للجيش السوري، يكاد يغيب أيّ ذكر للقوّات المنتشرة في مناطق سيطرة «قوّات سوريا الديمقراطيّة» رغم كثرة عددها وتنوّع مشارب مقاتليها وانتماءاتهم

تنقسم القوات الأجنبيّة الموجودة في مناطق سيطرة الأكراد شمال سوريا إلى صنفين، أوّلهما: قوات رسميّة ما بين قوّات مهمات خاصّة وعناصر استخبارات، أمّا القسم الثاني فيضمّ مقاتلين «متطوّعين» غير منضمّين إلى السلك العسكري رسميّاً.

وتتوزّع القوات المذكورة في المنطقة الممتدّة ما بين منبج (ريف حلب الشرقي) والمالكيّة (ريف الحسكة الشمالي الشرقي). فيما تنفرد منطقة عفرين (ريف حلب الشمالي) بكونها المنطقة الوحيدة الخالية من القوات الأجنبية من بين مناطق نفوذ «قسد». 

الشمال السوري: قوات متعددة الجنسيات... برعاية قسد

24 November 2016

أول لقاء رسمي بين حزب الله وضباط روس في حلب 

25 November 2016

Overview of the military situation in Aleppo

Click to download full size map                                            Click to download full size map



25 November 2016
مدينة الباب.. أول قصف سوري للقوات «المحتلة» 

26 November 2016

"The Syrian army said in a statement that, with the help of allies, they have taken control of the Hanano housing district...The district was first taken by armed opposition groups in 2012 who have said Hanano had been empty of residents for months."

Syrian government forces 'retake largest rebel-held area of Aleppo'

26 November 2016

Interview with de Mistura on ISIS and Aleppo
دي ميستورا لـ «الحياة»: هزيمة «داعش» تتطلب حلاً سياسياً ... ومشاركة الغالبية السُنّية

27 November 2016

الجيش وحلفاؤه يستعيدون 25 قرية على طريق الباب.. وأنقرة أوفدت إلى طهران … المقداد: على تركيا سحب قواتها من الأراضي السورية فوراً 

27 November 2016

"The Syrian army captured Jabal Badro on Sunday, a day after seizing Hanano district, and is making in-roads in other neighbourhoods. Its aim is to divide the rebel-held east of the city in two.Some reports said several thousand civilians were trying to escape, to government and other rebel-held areas."

Syria war: Army makes rapid gains in rebel-held east Aleppo

28 November 2016

وكان يمكن للانتصار الحلبي أن يغلق الجزء الأكبر من الأزمة السورية، ويحوّل دمشق مجدداً ونهائياً الى مركز القرار، ويمنح الحل السياسي قاعدةً داخلية قوية،لولا دخول اللاعبين الإقليميين والدوليين مباشرة الى الارض السورية. فمع اتساع الغزو التركي للشمال السوري، وتحول الشرق السوري الى محور تحالف كردي - أميركي ومشروع فدرالي، وانتشار أربع قواعد أميركية على أطرافه، كان من الممكن أن تؤدي استعادة حلب إلى بداية العد التنازلي فوراً، للخروج من الأزمة في سوريا. ومن دون شك، أصيبت المعارضة السورية المسلحة والمجموعات السلفية، والقوى الإقليمية، بواحدة من أكبر الهزائم التي تعرضت لها، منذ أن بدأت الحرب على سوريا. ولكن ذلك يعني قرب انتقال الجيش السوري الى مواجهة مكشوفة، وأكثر وضوحاً مع الأتراك، خصوصاً حول الباب. والأرجح أن زيارة وزير الخارجية التركية مولود جاويش اوغلو، ورئيس الاستخبارات حقان فيدان لطهران، ولقاءهما الرئيس حسن روحاني، والوزير محمد جواد ظريف، يدخل في نطاق الاستعداد لمرحلة ما بعد حلب، وإعادة تجديد التفاهم الذي نقضه الأتراك مع الايرانيين والروس، حول خريطة انتشارهم في الشمال السوري، وتنظيم هذا الانتشار، علماً أن الأتراك لم يحترموا أي اتفاق بهذا الشأن، فيما لا يزال الايرانيون يراهنون على انتزاع تعهدات تركية، يمكن احترامها 

حلب تقترب من خط النهاية؟

28 November 2016 

"The advance, after heavy bombing from the air, is a major blow for the armed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad. State TV said government troops were dismantling mines and explosives and continuing their advance. Thousands of civilians have fled the besieged districts after a weekend of heavy fighting. Hundreds of families have been displaced within the area."

Syrian government forces have captured a third of the rebel-held territory in eastern Aleppo


28 November 2016

"التهاوي السريع الذي مُنيت به المجموعات المسلّحة في مدينة حلب في اليومين الماضيين أسفر عن استعادة الجيش السوري عدداً من أكبر الأحياء الخارجة عن سيطرته منذ سنين. التطوّرات الميدانيّة المتتالية أفقدت «جبهة النصرة» وشركاءها ما يقارب نصف مناطق سيطرتهم في الأحياء الشرقيّة، في ما يبدو تمهيداً لخروج تلك الأحياء بأكملها من المعادلة لترجح معها كفّة الجيش وحلفائه لا في حلب فحسب، بل في خريطة الصراع برمّتها"
المعارضة تتهاوى في حلب: «أثر الدومينو» مقلوباً


29 November 2016

أطراف السباق نحو مدينة الباب الاستراتيجيّة لم تعد ثلاثة. خرجت «قسد» من السباق الذي بات مقتصراً على «درع الفرات» التركيّة والجيش السوري. واكتسب الأخير دفعاً بعدما انضوى لاعب جديد إلى جانبه وهو «المقاومة الوطنية السورية» التي انخرطت في المعارك أخيراً بمقاتلين سوريين أكراد وعرب وتحت العلم السوري الرسمي
«المقاومة السورية» إلى جانب الجيش: «الباب» أقرب
30 November 2016

"Stephen O'Brien, the UN's humanitarian affairs chief, made the comments as the Security Council met for an emergency session to discuss the crisis in the city. For the sake of humanity we call on - we plead - with the parties and those with influence to do everything in their power to protect civilians and enable access to the besieged part of eastern Aleppo before it becomes one giant graveyard," he told the council. An estimated 25,000 people have been displaced, he added, while for those inside opposition-controlled areas some are so hungry they are reduced to scavenging.

In an apparent reference to the rebels themselves, he said there were reliable reports that "non-state actors" were preventing civilians fleeing."

Syria war: Aleppo risks becoming giant graveyard - UN


30 November 2016

"The looming fall of Eastern Aleppo City to the regime and its allies poses a major threat to the long-term interests of the U.S. in Syria. Eastern Aleppo City serves as one of the last remaining major hubs of acceptable opposition groups in Northern Syria. The surrender of Eastern Aleppo City will likely drive these groups into deeper partnership with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, and other Salafi-Jihadist Groups in order to preserve their military effectiveness on the battlefield"

Aleppo Campaign Update: Pro-Regime Forces Advance in Eastern Aleppo City
Click below to download oversized map

30 November 2016

"The fall of Aleppo and the collapse of diplomacy point to a new and probably dark future for the country."

This Is the End of Syria

30 November 2016

"The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says as many as 20,000 residents of east Aleppo have fled their homes since Monday, when pro-regime forces, backed by Syrian artillery and hundreds of Russian airstrikes, captured key neighborhoods."

Luggage in hand, dozens of civilians bombed on road to relative safety of west Aleppo


30 November 2016

"Syrian forces have rounded up hundreds of young men as the government pushes its advance into rebel-held zones in the embattled city of Aleppo, residents and a monitoring group said Wednesday, prompting concerns about the safety of those held."


30 November 2016 

"According to the Soufan Group's assessment "While the Syrian civil war has experienced many alleged ‘turning points’, the slow-motion collapse of rebel-held east Aleppo would be among the most significant rebel losses since the conflict began in 2011."

TSG IntelBrief: The High Stakes in Aleppo

1 December 2016

"At the time of publication, rebel forces remained locked in heavy combat with loyalist forces after reportedly rolling back the regime’s advance into the district of Sheikh Saeed, located on the southern end of east Aleppo."

Stormy weather conditions provide east Aleppo a brief reprieve 

1 December 2016 

One reason the opposition appears to be on the verge of losing Aleppo is that it has effectively been abandoned by Turkey. It has recently also been getting less energetic support from Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia . . . 

An already divided and fragmented opposition will fragment even further, and I would additionally expect it to become more localised as it switches to low-level insurgency while other elements try to pursue negotiations or some form of accommodation with Damascus. 

Many observers and analysts have also noted that the failure of the mainstream political and armed opposition groups to achieve regime change is likely to further strengthen the position of more extreme groups within what will remain of the insurgency.

Quick Thoughts: Mouin Rabbani on Aleppo and the Syria Conflict


1 December 2016

"Rebel-held Aleppo risks becoming “one giant graveyard”, a United Nations humanitarian chief has warned as Syrian government troops continue a bloody advance backed by air strikes.

Representatives of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Russia clashed with British and American delegates at a heated emergency Security Council meeting as battles continued in the city on Wednesday."

Aleppo risks becoming 'one giant graveyard', UN warns as Syrian and Russian forces continue advance  


1 December 2016

"Within the past week entire neighborhoods in the rebel-held enclave of eastern Aleppo have fallen to the Syrian government. In this dense urban terrain, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have advanced at a speed that few had thought possible.

As rebel control over eastern Aleppo crumbles, the Syrian government must feel that it is winning. Its strategy, both ruthless and relentless, has paid off. Without Aleppo the Syrian opposition and its foreign backers will have no practical way forward, against a regime that seems more safely embedded in the heartland of the country than at any point in the past five years.

With so much currently up in the air, a new U.S. president on his way into office who has expressed doubts about the Syrian opposition, and the European Union preparing to reorganize its Syria policy, developments in Aleppo could well change the parameters of the Syrian conflict."

A Turning Point in Aleppo

1 December 2016

"Deal under negotiation in Ankara involves ceasefire and opening of corridors for delivering humanitarian aid"

Russians talk with Syrian rebels as eastern Aleppo runs out of food
1 December 2016

"The Russian-Syrian coalition committed war crimes during a month-long aerial bombing campaign of opposition-controlled territory in Aleppo in September and October 2016."

Russia/Syria: War Crimes in Month of Bombing Aleppo
An Arabic version of this report can be found here:

قالت "هيومن رايتس ووتش" اليوم إن قوات التحالف الروسي-السوري ارتكبت جرائم حرب خلال حملة قصف جوي لمدة شهر لمناطق تسيطر عليها المعارضة في حلب في سبتمبر/أيلول وأكتوبر/تشرين الأول 2016.
روسيا/سوريا: جرائم حرب خلال شهر من قصف حلب


2 December 2016

اقترحت روسيا إقامة أربعة ممرات إنسانية إلى شرق حلب، للسماح بدخول المساعدات وإجلاء مئات الحالات الطبية الطارئة، كما أعلنت الأمم المتحدة أمس الخميس
تفاؤل أممي باقتراح روسيا إقامة ممرات إنسانية إلى حلب



3 December 2016

"Syrian government troops control of 50% of rebel-held areas of east Aleppo, a military spokesman has told the BBC. Gen Samir Sulaiman said he hoped all of Aleppo would be in government hands within weeks. Gen Sulaiman was speaking a day after the army seized another district, Tariq al-Bab, from the rebels opposing President Bashar al-Assad.

Swathes of east Aleppo held by rebels have been seized by government troops and militiamen in the past three weeks.Some 250,000 people remain trapped in besieged areas of the city. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced. The United Nations this week said conditions in east Aleppo were now so dire that medical operations were being conducted without anaesthetics." 

Aleppo siege: Syria rebels lose 50% of territory

3 December 2016
 خمسة وسبعون ليرة سورية فقط (1.5$) أصبحت كافية ليتنقل أي مواطن من اقصى غرب حلب حتى أقصى الشمال. خطوط النقل الداخلي باتت متوافرة لنقلح مَن يود مِن المواطنين نحو الأحياء التي سيطر عليها الجيش "السوري مؤخراً في القسم الشرقي للمدينة التي بدأت تعود إلى الحياة بشكل تدريجي، بعدما عاشت أربع سنوات في قبضة الحرب والمسلحين
حلب: عجلة الحياة تعاكس تقسيمها
3 December 2016
مع استمرار العمليات العسكرية على عدة محاور في أحياء حلب الشرقية، تبدو موسكو مصرّة على إكمال العمل الميداني حتى السيطرة على كامل المدينة. فبينما تخوض مباحثات منفصلة مع ممثلين عن المعارضة المسلحة في أنقرة ومع الأمم المتحدة في جنيف، لإنجاح تسوية في المدينة، أوضحت أمس، أنها لا ترى في «جيش حلب» المكون حديثاً، غير صورة أخرى عن «جبهة النصرة» وحلفائها
تقدّم جديد شرقي المدينة... وموسكو تنعى «جيش حلب

5 December 2016

"Russia and China have vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council that called for a seven-day ceasefire in Syria's embattled city of Aleppo.

Russia said the document infringed the council rule allowing countries 24 hours to consider the final wording"

Aleppo battle: Russia and China veto UN truce resolution


6 December 2016

"Syria's army and allies pushed into rebel-held parts of Aleppo's Old City on Tuesday, a monitoring group said, looking closer than ever to achieving their most important victory of the five-year-old civil war by driving rebels out of their last urban stronghold.

A rebel official said they would never abandon Aleppo, after reports that U.S. and Russian diplomats were preparing to discuss the surrender and evacuation of insurgents from territory they have held for years."

Syrian troops enter Aleppo's Old City, poised for war's biggest victory

6 December 2016

"The loss of Aleppo “would be a huge defeat for the Syrian opposition—both militarily and politically—but I don’t think it will bring an end to the civil war,” Robert Ford, the last American ambassador to serve in Syria, tells Syria Direct."
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford: ‘I don’t think the surrender of Aleppo will bring an end to the civil war’

7 December 2016

"Syrian rebels have left the last areas they held in Aleppo's old city, while calling for a five-day truce to allow the evacuation of civilians. Activist monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the pull-back in Syria's second city came after days of heavy fighting.

State media confirmed the military had taken over the whole of the old city. Government forces now control about 75% of eastern Aleppo, held by the rebels for the past four years.

The rebels, who had been left with just a spit of land north-east of the citadel after recent government advances, abandoned it by Wednesday morning, retreating to territory they still hold further south."

Aleppo battle: Syria rebels 'withdraw from old city' 

7 December 2016

"Munitions-poor rebel forces are unable to stanch the hemorrhaging of territory, now reduced to a small 16 square kilometer area of control after ceding more than 26 districts to the regime in recent days."
Civilians increasingly cornered amid ongoing rebel losses in east Aleppo, ‘stranglehold getting tighter’
1-7 December  2016
"As pro-government forces continue to advance in East Aleppo, the remaining civilian population must be kept in mind. Noncombatants who wish to leave the remaining territory must be allowed free and safe passage out to secure locations and must be kept from retributive attacks. Additionally, reports of large- scale disappearances of men from East Aleppo raise serious concerns for reprisal killings by advancing pro-government forces." 

Syria Conflict Mapping Project Reports: Aleppo- Weekly Conflict Summary-Dec-1-7-2016

8 December 2016

"Pro-regime forces backed by heavy airstrikes seized at least fifteen districts in Eastern Aleppo City including large parts of the Old City of Aleppo, shrinking the pocket held by opposition forces by more than seventy-five percent. 

Activists stated that opposition groups had withdrawn from the area to regroup in Southern Aleppo City and noted that more than 80,000 civilians have fled Eastern Aleppo City since the start of the pro-regime offensive on November 15."

8 December 2016

"Pro-regime forces backed by heavy airstrikes seized at least fifteen districts in Eastern Aleppo City including large parts of the Old City of Aleppo, shrinking the pocket held by opposition forces by more than seventy-five percent. 

Activists stated that opposition groups had withdrawn from the area to regroup in Southern Aleppo City and noted that more than 80,000 civilians have fled Eastern Aleppo City since the start of the pro-regime offensive on November 15."

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: November 8 - December 6, 2016

9 December 2016
"Developments in al-Bab are linked to clashes in Aleppo. Turkey is reportedly transferring opposition fighters withdrawn from Damascus, Homs and Aleppo to the al-Bab region to form a paramilitary force under its control."
What's at stake in Syria
9 December 2016
" Civilians are caught between warring parties that appear to be operating in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. Indiscriminate attacks, with little effort taken to avoid civilian casualties, have been conducted on heavily populated areas on both sides of the city. 
Civilians are being used as pawns and prevented from leaving - in blatant violation of the obligation to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from the effects of attack. The war crime of hostage taking is also possibly being committed." Rupert Colville , Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Briefing notes: Syria
9 December 2016
"توشكُ «عاصمة الشمال» على العودة بأكملها إلى كنف الجيش السوري. ولعلّ السؤال الأبرز الذي يطرح نفسه اليوم يتعلّق بالوجهة (أو الوجهات) القادمة لعمليّات الجيش وحلفائه. جبهات عدّة تبدو حاضرةً في قائمة الاحتمالات، منها ما يضعُ في حسبانه مناطق سيطرة «داعش» ومنها ما تفرضه ضرورات عدم السماح لـ«جيش الفتح» بالتقاط الأنفاس. ماذا بعد حلب؟"
الجيش بين الباب وإدلب ... وعين «الفتح» على حماة
10 December 2016
"حدثان كبيران أبعدا الأنظار عن مدينة حلب يوم أمس. أنقرة على بعد كيلومترات أدخلت الشمال السوري في لهيب جديد بعد اقتحام «درع الفرات» لنقاط جديدة في مدينة «الباب» بعد أسابيع من الجمود الميداني بفعل الرسائل الميدانية السورية والسياسية الروسية. أما على جبهة تدمر، فاستغل «داعش» المنطقة البعيدة عن الحرب نسبياً وانشغال الجيش السوري بمعارك حلب، ليتمكّن أمس من إسقاط عدد كبير من النقاط داخل حقول الغاز في صحراء حمص وأخرى في الجبال القريبة، ليهدّد "مجدداً مدينة تدمر التي أصبح على مشارفها
«داعش» على مشارف تدمر: أنقرة تتحدّى دمشق على «جبهة الباب»

12 December  2016

"UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced alarm "over reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians" in Syria's city of Aleppo.
Mr Ban urged all the sides, particularly Syria's government and its allies, to protect civilians.
UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland earlier said Syria and Russia were "accountable" for any atrocities committed by pro-government militias."

Aleppo battle: UN chief warns of 'atrocities against civilians'

13 December 2016

Children are reportedly trapped inside a building under attack in besieged Aleppo, the UN’s children agency has said, amid reports that forces loyal to the regime of Bashar al-Assad are carrying out extrajudicial killings in areas of the city recently reclaimed from the Syrian opposition.

According to alarming reports from a doctor in the city, many children, possibly more than 100, unaccompanied or separated from their families, are trapped in a building, under heavy attack in east Aleppo,” Unicef said in a statement. “We urge all parties to the conflict to allow the safe and immediate evacuation of all children.

The UN’s human rights office said earlier there were reliable accounts that pro-Syrian regime forces have been entering homes in the last remaining rebel strongholds in eastern Aleppo and killing civilians on the spot."

Children trapped in building under attack in Aleppo, doctor tells UN


13 December 2016

As the Syrian government forces, backed by allies, inch closer to a decisive victory in the ravaged rebel stronghold of east Aleppo, t he impending fall of the city to regime forces would be the biggest setback for rebels since the conflict broke out in 2011. It could also mark the start of a wider military shift that sets the course of the war in the Syrian regime's favour. 

In less than a month, Syrian troops, with unfettered Russian air support, were able to recapture 90 percent of the eastern part of Aleppo. On Monday, the Syrian army claimed that 98 percent of east Aleppo was in the hands of regime forces."

Aleppo: 'People want safe passage'
Al Jazeera speaks to head of local council on regime's victory and its implications for the Syrian revolution.


13 December  2016
حصل المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان على معلومات موثوقة من عدة مصادر متقاطعة، أن قوات النظام اعتقلت خلال ما يقرب من 17 يوماً، أكثر من 6 آلاف شاب ورجل، من النازحين من أحياء حلب الشرقية إلى مناطق سيطرة النظام في حلب، وجرى اقتيادهم وضمهم إلى صفوف قوات النظام، بذريعة “تخلفهم عن الخدمة الإلزامية”،
 قوات النظام تعتقل أكثر من 6 آلاف نازح واعتقالات تطال حليقي الذقون في حلب الشرقية
13 December  2016

"Evacuations are due to take place of fighters trapped in east Aleppo following the agreement of a ceasefire between Syrian government forces and rebels fighting to keep control of their territory, according to rebel officials."
Aleppo ceasefire: Russia says evacuation deal agreed for fighters not civilians

13 December  2016

"Scores of rain-soaked corpses line the streets of east Aleppo on Tuesday as regime forces aimed to capture the final three square kilometers of the provincial capital held by rebels, several sources on the ground told Syria Direct."
Ceasefire in Aleppo as eastern half burns, ‘bodies lie where they fell’

13 December  2016
"The U.N. human rights office says it has received reports of Syria's pro-government forces killing at least 82 civilians as they entered the last remaining strongholds of the rebels in eastern Aleppo."
Aleppo: Pro-government forces slaughter at least 82 civilians while closing in on Syrian city, UN says


15 December 2016 

“Nearly 1,000 civilians and 26 wounded people have been evacuated in buses and ambulances from a besieged rebel-held enclave in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it expects this number to double by the end of the day.

Government forces, backed by Russian allies, took nearly all remaining rebel-held parts of Aleppo this week after a four-year battle.”

Aleppo Syria battle: Evacuation of rebel-held east

Image from


14 December  2016

"With Assad’s forces having nearly completed their takeover of eastern Aleppo, and advancing quickly in the East Ghouta near Damascus, this poorly timed round of internal score-settling between Ahrar al-Sham’s competing camps could prove very costly."
Divided, They May Fall
14 December  2016

" The Turkish-Russian ceasefire for rebel-held east Aleppo fell apart in the hours after the agreement, with medical evacuees turned back from leaving Wednesday morning at dawn and ongoing airstrikes and regime-allied shelling of the pocket of territory still under rebel control."
Ceasefire falls apart as artillery, airstrikes rock east Aleppo
14 December  2016

"The pro-Assad forces’ onslaught in Aleppo marks a key inflection point for the war in Syria. Eastern Aleppo’s imminent fall – to a coalition that includes Russia and Iran and its various proxies – will accelerate the war’s destabilizing effects."
15 December  2016

"The recent flurry of Turkey-Russia diplomacy shows the potential for each to achieve better results—for themselves and their allies—via negotiating a non-aggression arrangement that would avert an all-out war for Idlib, or elsewhere"

15 December  2016
"The first wave of evacuations came just hours after sniper fire targeted the regime’s green buses three times Thursday morning as they attempted to leave east Aleppo, killing one person and injuring up to four others, local sources told Syria Direct."
Rebels surrender east Aleppo, evacuations begin
15 December  2016

"As Aleppo's eastern districts continue to collapse, the regime will soon turn its attention to other pressing fronts, but manpower shortages will likely force it to focus on just one of them first."

16 December  2016

"Tensions came to a head on Friday afternoon, when a convoy of hundreds of evacuees was detained and turned back by pro-government militiamen. They blocked the way, according to rebel and pro-government fighters, because insurgents in Idlib Province, farther north, were blocking an evacuation of civilians from two villages besieged by rebels."
Aleppo Evacuation Halted Amid Confusion and Concerns About Killings
17 December  2016
"The abrupt suspension resulted from the refusal of al-Qaida-linked militants to allow the evacuation of wounded civilians from Fua and Kefraya, two Shia villages in Idlib province that have been besieged by Islamist rebels for years and whose relief was part of the agreement, offered as a concession to Iran."
18 December  2016

"A deal to secure safe passage for more than 40,000 people from rebel-held east Aleppo city appeared to disintegrate once again on Sunday after buses sent to evacuate thousands of residents from two Shiite-majority villages in Idlib province were attacked and burned by unidentified assailants."

Up in smoke: Unidentified assailants attack buses in Idlib, endangering Aleppo evacuation
18 December  2016
"Regardless of the initial rights and wrongs surrounding the entire rebellion, considering the siege status and being surrounded by rebels led principally by Jaysh al-Fatah, which includes Jabhat Fatah al-Sham that forced the Druze of Idlib to convert to Sunni Islam and would probably have done the same to the Shi’a if al-Fu’a and Kafariya had been taken over, it is clear many if not most in the villages see Hezbollah and Iran as their main protectors intervening from outside"
The Situation in al-Fu’a and Kafariya

18 December  2016

"Several buses sent to transport the sick and injured from two government-held villages in Syria's Idlib province have been burned by rebels."

Aleppo Battle: Rebels Burn Syria Evacuation Buses 


16 December  2016

"Vladimir Putin has said he is negotiating with 'armed opposition' as thousands of people leave Aleppo."

19 December  2016

"Alarmed at the “devastating” humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, where perhaps thousands of civilians remain trapped, the Security Council today requested the United Nations and other relevant institutions to carry out “adequate, neutral monitoring and direct observation on evacuations from the eastern districts” of the war-battered city."
Security Council approves UN monitors for Aleppo evacuations
19 December  2016

"Seemingly unthinkable just a few months ago, the fall of Aleppo represents a major victory for forces loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The pressing question now is where these forces will head next: eastwards, so as to confront the Islamic State, or to the west and south in order to roll back opposition strongholds in Idlib province and around Deraa city?"

Where Next?
19 December  2016

"Aleppo is often invoked as a symbol of the U.S. and the world's failure in Syria. President Obama, in particular, takes a lot of the blame for failing to intervene to stop the country's civil war, in which nearly half a million people have been killed."
Assessing The Successes And Failures Of Obama's Approach To Syria
20 December  2016

"Hundreds of civilians, wounded and not, along with rebels streamed out of east Aleppo on Tuesday, the sixth day of a massive evacuation effort from the city’s last, blockaded rebel neighborhoods. For many, their ultimate destination will likely be camps in the opposition-held western countryside."
Thousands leave east Aleppo for camps in opposition territory: ‘These areas are not safe’

20 December  2016
 واستقبلت إدلب خلال العامين الأخيرين عدداً كبيراً من مقاتلي المعارضة الآتين من مضايا والزبداني شمال غرب دمشق، ومن مدينة داريا جنوب غرب العاصمة، ومن بلدتي قدسيا والهامة شمال غربها، كذلك من حي الوعر الحمصي، كما تستعد محافظة إدلب لاستقبال مقاتلين مع عائلاتهم من مدينة معضمية الشام غرب دمشق الذين بدأ النظام، أمس الأربعاء، عملية تهجيرهم 

مخطط النظام وحلفائه بإدلب: تجميع مقاتلي المعارضة تمهيداً لتصفيتهم
21 December  2016
"Bana Alabed, the 7-year-old Syrian girl who brought the plight of Aleppo's victims to the world, wrote the latest chapter in her extraordinary story by meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara."
Bana Alabed: 7-year-old Syrian girl meets Turkey's President Erdogan

21 December  2016
"Thousands of traumatized civilians in eastern Aleppo are waiting in the freezing cold and continuing peril as the excruciatingly slow evacuation process drags on."
Thousands remain trapped in eastern Aleppo
Arabic version of this article can be found here:
سكّان مدينة حلب الشرقيّة يختبرون قدرتهم على مواجهة الموت
22 December  2016
"Turkey, Russia, and Iran released a joint statement - termed the ‘Moscow Declaration’ - noting that all three countries agree to “facilitate and become the guarantors” of any political agreement to end the Syrian Civil War following a trilateral meeting in Moscow, Russia on December 20."

22 December  2016

"The last buses carrying residents from eastern Aleppo left the city late Thursday night, according to the Syrian state news agency. Tens of thousands of people have been removed from eastern Aleppo since Dec. 15. Before the last buses left on Thursday, the Red Cross said that 34,000 people had left the city, including 4,000 fighters who had left in their own vehicles the previous night."
Turning Point in Syria as Assad Regains All of Aleppo

22 December  2016

"The legal definition for what is happening in Aleppo is forced displacement—a term that has been carefully avoided by the Security Council, which, ignoring the reality on the ground, issued a resolution this week stressing the importance of “voluntary, safe, and dignified passage of all civilians.”"

22 December 2016

"The evacuation of civilians and fighters from the last rebel-held part of Aleppo concluded on Thursday after long delays because of frigid weather, putting all of Syria’s industrial capital back in the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces for the first time since 2012.

The last buses carrying residents from eastern Aleppo left the city late Thursday night, according to the Syrian state news agency.

Tens of thousands of people have been removed from eastern Aleppo since Dec. 15. Before the last buses left on Thursday, the Red Cross said that 34,000 people had left the city, including 4,000 fighters who had left in their own vehicles the previous night."


Turning Point in Syria as Assad Regains All of Aleppo


23 December 2016

"The Syrian army says it has retaken full control of Aleppo, following the evacuation of the last group of rebels. In a statement, the army said it had "returned security to Aleppo" and called it a "crushing blow" for rebels.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed "all civilians who wished to be evacuated have been, as well as the wounded and fighters". This is the biggest victory for President Bashar al-Assad since the uprising against him began in 2011.

At least 34,000 civilians and rebel fighters have been removed from eastern Aleppo over the past week, a UN official said earlier."


Aleppo battle: Syrian city 'back under government control'

23 December 2016

"What should we make of the growing influence of Iran in the politics of the region? Along with Russia, Iran has been a key ally to President Assad in turning the tide the Syrian conflict. So is it right to cast this as the growing dominance of Shia powers and their allies over their Sunni rivals, or is this an over-simplistic interpretation of a complex regional power struggle?"
After Aleppo?

23 December  2016

بخروج آخر دفعة من مسلّحي الأحياء الشرقيّة في حلب، تُطوى صفحة مفاوضات شائكة ومتعدّدة المسارات استمرّت قرابة أسبوعين. وعلى الرغم من أن الفترة ليست طويلة بحساب الأيام، غير أن الملابسات والأحداث الجانبية والعوائق الكثيرة التي حفلت بها جعلتها حافلة.
مفاوضات «شرق حلب»: مسارات متعدّدة... ودولارات!
23 December  2016

"Evacuees from the Syrian city tell how life continued through years of bombing – until it was impossible to stay"
'I couldn't take anything except dignity': stories of the leaving of Aleppo
23 December  2016

Nasrallah, whose movement is considered a terror group in the West and Middle East, described Assad's win as 'big victory' against 'terrorism'
Putin congratulates Assad as Hezbollah says Aleppo fall means rebels have 'failed'

23 December  2016

مع إقفال النظام السوري وحلفائه ملف تهجير مدينة حلب، تتجه الأنظار إلى محافظة إدلب، التي تتخوّف المعارضة من قيام النظام بدعم إيراني وروسي بحملة عسكرية ضدها بعد تجميع كل المعارضين فيها، وهو ما ألمح إليه أيضاً المبعوث الأممي إلى سورية، ستيفان دي ميستورا، الذي قال بشكل صريح إن "إدلب يمكن أن تصبح حلب التالية".  
تحذير أممي من "حلب ثانية": إدلب هدف مقبل؟

23 December  2016
"Syria's rebels must unite to form a "collective leadership" to defend the revolution and lay the ground to retake Aleppo, a spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham has said in an exclusive interview with Middle East Eye."
'We must unite and retake Aleppo': Ahrar al-Sham says Syrian rebels will endure
23 December  2016
كيف حدث ذلك، خلال أقل من خمس سنوات، لحلب ذات الخمسة آلاف عام عمرًا على الأقل، بشجرها وحجرها وبشرها؟ الصمت عمّا أحاق بحلب، وعن الوالغين بدمها من الأطراف كافةً، جريمة كبرى. من يرى أن كارثة حلب صدفة هو بلا عقل، ومن لا يبكي على حلب هو بلا قلب ولا ضمير. دم حلب لعنة عليهم جميعًا، وسيطارد الوالغين فيه إلى النهاية. إنها لعنة حلب. خمسة آلاف سنة على الأقل هدمت في أقل من خمس سنوات. بعد ذلك أي فخر يا أولاد….؟ الحِداد يليق بحلب.
الحِداد يليق بحلب

23 December  2016
"Syrian rebels shelled Aleppo and air strikes resumed around the city on Friday as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies said the insurgents' withdrawal from the city could pave the way toward a political solution for the country."
Aleppo sees shelling, air strikes again as Assad urges peace talks
23 December  2016
"Turkish airstrikes on a Syrian town held by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) have killed 88 civilians in 24 hours, according to a monitoring group."
Turkish Airstrikes on ISIS-Held Town in Syria "Kill 88:" Monitor 
24 December  2016
95 على الأقل بينهم 26 طفلاً دون سن الثامنة عشر و13 مواطنة فوق سن الـ 18، عدد الشهداء الذين قضوا جراء مجزرتين متتاليتين نفذتهما الطائرات التركية في مدينة الباب خلال الـ 24 ساعة الفائتة، واللتين خلفتا كذلك عشرات الجرحى والمفقودين،
95 شهيداً على الأقل بينهم نحو 40 طفلاً ومواطنة في مجزرتي الباب اللتين نفذتهما الطائرات التركية خلال 24 ساعة
24 December  2016

عودة كامل مدينة حلب إلى سيطرة الدولة السوريّة لا تعني عودة الحياة إلى طبيعتها بسهولة. يبدو الطريق طويلاً ويحتاج قطعه إلى أداء حكومي استثنائي، من دون أن تلوح (حتى الآن) أيّ مؤشّرات مُبشّرة على هذا الصعيد. وإذا كان ملف إعادة تأهيل الأحياء الشرقيّة في حاجة لوقت لـ«تقدير الأضرار ووضع الخطط»، فمن المفترض أن الأمر لا ينطبق على تهيئة الدوائر الحكومية (الموجودة أساساً في الأحياء الغربيّة) لتقديم الخدمات لمدينة كاملة

الحياة في حلب: نصفها ركام... ونصفها ازدحام

24 December  2016

"Christians part of region’s DNA, said incoming UN secretary-general; Turkey’s “impossible war”; Erdogan backers blame Iran for Aleppo."
24 December  2016
يحتفل مسيحيو حلب بعيد الميلاد بعد سنوات دموية مرت على المدينة نتيجة القصف الجوي الذي نفّذته المقاتلات الروسية ومروحيات النظام، بالإضافة إلى الاشتباكات التي كانت لا تهدأ بين المعارضة والنظام
وللمرة الأولى، ستفتح الكاتدرائية المارونية أبوابها منذ سنوات، لتستقبل المصلين والزوار في ليلة الميلاد، ويبذل متطوعون جهوداً كبيرة من أجل رفع الحطام الذي خلفته قذائف أصابت الكاتدرائية، نتيجة وقوعها قرب خط التماس بين المعارضة والنظام
حلب: متطوعون لرفع حطام الكاتدرائية المارونية

24 December  2016

Syrian troops strengthened their hold over Aleppo on Friday after retaking full control of the city, as residents anxious to return to their homes moved through its ruined streets.

Syrian army reclaims east Aleppo
24 December  2016

استراحت مدينة حلب من الحرب، بعدما غادر مقاتلو المعارضة إلى الريف الغربي وإدلب، ودخلت قوات النظام والمليشيات إلى المدينة القديمة، والأحياء الشرقية. وخلال الحرب الطاحنة التي دارت في المدينة العريقة، كانت معالم تاريخية كثيرة تتغير يوماً بعد يوم. هنا بعضها من أرشيف وكالة "رويترز":  
شاهدوا: كيف غيّرت الحرب معالم حلب

24 December  2016
"Deaths of civilians reported in rebel-held Atareb while government blames fighters for deadly shelling elsewhere."
New offensive targets rebels on Aleppo's outskirts

25 December  2016

"Russian jets stepped up strikes on several towns in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province and rural Aleppo two days after the evacuation of rebels from their last pocket in the northern city of Aleppo, rebels and residents said on Saturday."

25 December  2016

وتبقى المعضلة الكبرى عند التعامل مع المؤيِّد "المُخلِص" لأي طرف، هي في رغبته التي لا تنطفىء بمَسخ الآخرين على هيئته، وتحويل المجتمع المحيط به إلى مجتمع "تشبيحي" يقوم على إقصاء أي لون مختلف. وفي هكذا بيئة لا استتثناء لأحد. فمَن يقع ضمن ما يسمى بالأغلبيات "الصامتة" أو الرمادية"، عليه أن يُقيِم فترة طويلة في شرنقة، بانتظار أن ينتهي العالِم يوماً ما من تجاربه المخبرية لإطلاق وحوش جديدة   

فرانكشتاين حلب

 23 December 2016

"Forces loyal to the Assad regime captured all of rebel-held Aleppo in less than a month after launching a major ground offensive on 27 November. Amid harrowing reports of atrocities committed by pro-regime forces, rebel territory rapidly shrank to a small pocket. Civilians were finally evacuated after a ceasefire left the regime in control of the rebels’ last major urban stronghold"
The battle for eastern Aleppo in maps: how rebel territory shrank
26 December 2016

"As eastern Aleppo falls, pounded by regime and Russian airstrikes, and stormed by Iranian sponsored militia on the ground, one young woman risks everything to communicate to the outside world the horror of the last days in the liberated part of the city."

Fighting on All Fronts: Women's Resistance in Syria

26 December 2016

"Tired of seeing the bloodshed and Syrian suffering, Anna Alboth organised a mass march from Berlin to Aleppo, happening now"
Marching to Aleppo: Berliner leads mass peace march to Syria

26 December 2016

«كل العالم طلعوا مرفوعين الراس… إلا حلب!»، هذا ما قاله واحدٌ من الناجين من إحدى القوافل التي احتجزتها قوات النظام وحلفاؤها في معبر الراموسة، وتمت إعادة ركابها إلى داخل الأحياء المحاصرة في إحدى مراحل الخروج الدامي من حلب.
«بخاطرك يا حلب، بخاطرك يا يوم»

27 December 2016
"In an interview with Al-Monitor, Fawza al-Yusuf, a board member of the Democratic Federal System for Rojava-Northern Syria, spoke about the battle for Raqqa, Turkey's involvement in the conflict and Syria's future."
Rojava leader: Turkey cannot stop Kurds from advancing in Syria
The Arabic version of this article can be found here:
فوزة اليوسف: ننتصر أو ننتصر هذا شعارنا، و"داعش" ومن يدعمه نحو الزوال


28 December 2016

Thousands of displaced Syrians are suffering from infected shrapnel wounds, hypothermia and malnutrition.
Idlib overwhelmed by influx of Aleppo's wounded
29 December 2016

David Greene talks to Rami Kalazi, who reflects on the destruction of his native city and life in Turkey, where he went after Syrian regime forces blocked the road to Aleppo and he couldn't get home.
29 December 2016
The cease-fire agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey and approved by the Syrian government and some of its most powerful rebel opponents is a potential turning point in the Syrian civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and laid waste to huge parts of the country over the past six years.
Is the Russia-Turkey cease-fire deal a breakthrough?
30 December 2016

As Russia and Turkey establish a peace initiative for Syria, there are lessons to be learned from previous failed ceasefires
Hope for Syria: Don't hold your breath
30 December 2016

If Gary Johnson’s ignorance was typical, then, what was his real failing? It wasn’t that he didn’t know where or what Aleppo was. It was that he hadn’t deployed the techniques that a lot of people spend their adolescence developing, the ability to cover oneself in a patina of presumed smarts when you lack the actual foundation of knowledge that would help you to genuinely understand that topic at hand

What Is Aleppo?

30 December 2016
Assad and ally Russia dismissed dire diplomatic warnings and independent reports as “unfair and dishonest,” “hoaxes” and “propaganda,” and regularly pointed to crimes committed by opposition rebel groups during the battle. But the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that Assad’s allied forces were “responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties” in Aleppo.
Ignored Warnings
31 December 2016

بخريطة ميدانيّة تعكس تقدّماً كبيراً لمصلحة الجيش السوري وحلفائه، تودع الحرب عام 2016. العام المنصرم حمل عناوين بارزة كثيرة، لكن أبرزها استعادة الجيش السوري السيطرة على كامل مدينة حلب. وعلى إيقاع التقدّم الميداني، واصلت موسكو فرض هيمنتها السياسيّة على الملف السوري، لتستبدل بالشريك الأميركي آخر تركيّاً 

«عام حلب»: قبضة الجيش وحلفائه أقوى... وكلمة موسكو «هي الأعلى»

31 December 2016

A video appeared on Youtube on December 29 showing a military operation against jihadists near the Syrian city of Aleppo. The video shows Hezbollah fighters and alleged servicemen of the Russian Special Forces operating shoulder to shoulder.
Russian Special Forces Operate Along with Hezbollah Units in Aleppo (Video, Photos)

31 December 2016

Resolution aims to pave way for talks under key Syria government backers Russia and Iran, and Turkey, which backs rebel groups

Russia gets UN backing for Syria truce, Kazakhstan talks

1 January 2017

استهدف الطيران الحربي بعدة غارات جوية قرى ومناطق ريف حلب الغربي والجنوبي، ما أدى إلى إصابات بين المدنيين، ضمن خروقات مستمرة من قبل قوات الأسد للهدنة لليوم الثالث على التوالي.
غارات جوية على ريف حلب.. النظام: القصف استهدف “النصرة” و”داعش”
1 January 2017

Warning comes after west Aleppo countryside town hit by suspected bunker buster bomb in early hours of New Year

Syrian civilians fear ceasefire will end after heavy bombardment of rebel areas
1 January 2017

أظهرت وثائق أبرمها كل من موسكو وأنقرة مع فصائل المعارضة السورية من جهة والحكومة السورية من جهة ثانية، وحصلت «الحياة» على نصها، استعجالاً روسياً في تثبت وقف النار ونشر مراقبين روس وأتراك ونقاط تفتيش قرب مناطق الاشتباك السورية وتحقيق اختراق سياسي في مفاوضات آستانة وفق برنامج زمني، وشرعنة نتائج المفاوضات برعاية دولية في جنيف
نقاط تفتيش ومراقبون روس وأتراك في سورية وبرنامج زمني للحل السياسي



Concluding Post Note from the Editors

Backed by Russian air support, the Syrian government and its allies declared retaking Aleppo on 22 December 2016, leaving behind significant destruction and loss of human life. In a way, that day had been predictable ever since the Russian intervention into Syria (30 September 2015) broke the stalemate decisively against the anti-government forces. Aleppo, or more precisely different parts of the city, were besieged by different armed groups. Eastern Aleppo was under the control of anti-government forces, Western Aleppo was under the control of the government, and two northern districts were held by the YPG.

Following the “Battle for Aleppo” on 19 July 2012, anti-government forces controlled “Eastern Aleppo” and most of the northern countryside and laid siege on towns of Nubul and Zahra, last remaining pro-government towns north of Aleppo (until 3 February 2016). On July 2016, the government and its Russian allies laid a siege on Eastern Aleppo and implemented a counter-insurgency strategy, “draining the water.”

On 6 August 2016, anti-government forces (coalition of Islamist groups, but NOT ISIS) placed a siege on Western Aleppo, as a result of a counter-offensive which began on 31 July, but they failed to maintain their success. They failed later to completely break the siege when they launched unsuccessful counteroffensives (September and October 2016) before the Syrian government and its allies re-coordinated their efforts to launch a decisive campaign and recapturing the city.

Also predictable was the ensuing loss of life and destruction as well as the further polarization and catastrophic impact on the social fabric of Syrian society that a military conquest is likely to bring.

The media coverage by and large was also predictable, repeating a cycle now familiar for several years. It is marked, depending on the source, of high selectivity in reporting of whose lives count and whose crimes count. Given the battle's predictability, why was it not avoided?

Given the predictability of a similar scenario unfolding in Idlib, how could it be avoided? Would the cooperation and the agreement between Russia and Turkey (28 December 2016), with their significant influence in Syria, on a draft nationwide ceasefire, be a positive and serious step towards resolving the war?

Idlib is now a host to large numbers of civilians, many of whom were previously transplanted through secondary and tertiary displacement over the past several years. It is overflowing with people and with destroyed infrastructure, and extremely precarious health and nutritional conditions. A mass assault there by the government and its forces may mean an even more nightmarish humanitarian outcome. That cannot be allowed to happen, especially if there is any sanity left and any desire left in a political solution that heralds a meaningful transition for the country. The triumphalism of the government and its supporters while ignoring the deep grievances of large sectors of Syrian society, the deep political and economic causal roots of the crisis, and the ensuring polarization will never result in long-term stability.

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The photography page aims to provide a space for reflection on photography in its various forms and uses in the Middle East. We showcase the work of photographers active in the region and cultivate critical thinking about photographic practices, representations, and history. The page publishes photo essays, articles, interviews, reviews and more. It also provides information on photographic archives, agencies, and institutions, exhibits, events, and publications.