The Syrian army and allied troops have intensified fighting around the second largest city cutting off opposition supply routes.
A massive regime offensive supported by Russian air cover is threatening to cut opposition supply lines into the second largest city of Aleppo as UN sponsored peace talks in Geneva lose momentum. Syrian army attack on Northern Aleppo began during the past few days. It is the first major regime offensive after Russian aircrafts entered the fray on September 30, 2015.
Opposition sources are describing the Syrian army assault as the most intense to date claiming more than 40 civilian lives. One rebel commander stated that there is a risk that all the opposition held areas within the city will be completely encircled by the Syrian army and its allied forces. Opposition forces are also calling on their international backers to provide them with more weapons.
As the Syrian army and its allies advance against the rebels with the Russian air support, the chances of reaching a settlement in Geneva seems to be fading. Some of the rebels facing the Syrian army in Aleppo are backed by the United States.
The renewed urgency to resolve the five year old Syrian crisis is a result of mounting refugee crisis as well as the spread of the Islamic State into large swathes of Syria and Iraq.
US Secretary of State, john Kerry requested Moscow to halt the bombing campaign for the duration of the peace talks. He said that the talks had started and the allies are expecting a ceasefire.
However, the foreign minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov stated in a news conference in Oman that his country would not stop bring a halt to the airstrikes until groups like al Nusra are completely defeated.
Aleppo and its surrounding areas offer a supply route to the rebels from the Turkish border. The area also acts as buffer zone between regime controlled areas of West Aleppo, and the Shia majority areas of Al-Zahraa and Nubul. Both are loyal to the government.
An opposition commander recently informed that their supply routes were still intact but had endured heavy bombardment by Russian jets. Obviously, the Russians are trying to target these routes and the rebel headquarters.
Russian aeroplanes are working 24 hours for the past three consecutive days giving credence to the rebel demands for providing them with anti-aircraft missiles so that they can confront the onslaught by the Syrian army and Russian jets.
It is obvious that in the absence of support, the Syrian army will besiege Aleppo and cut the supply lines. A UK-based monitoring body also stated that the advancing Syrian army had taken control of the Hardatnin village in the northwest of Aleppo.
Opposition commanders in other parts of the country have sent reinforcements to Aleppo. These reinforcements consist of fresh fighters as well as heavy fighting equipment.
Russian intervention in Syria has brought about a reversal in Bashar al Assad’s fortunes who had suffered some major defeats in different parts of the country at the hands of the rebels.