Thousands flee as Russian-backed offensive threatens to besiege Aleppo


Residents inspect damage after airstrikes by pro-Syrian government forces in the rebel held Al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria February 4, 2016. Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail

(SOURCE)   -Tens of thousands of Syrians fled an intensifying Russian assault around Aleppo on Friday, and aid workers said they feared the city which once held two million people could soon fall under a full government siege.

Iran reported one of its generals was killed on the front line assisting government forces, direct confirmation of the role Tehran is playing along with Moscow in what appears to be one of the most ambitious offensives in five years of civil war.

The government assault around Aleppo, and advances in the south of the country, helped to torpedo peace talks this week in Geneva. President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and their allies are making a new bid to achieve victory on the battlefield after Russia’s intervention ended months of stalemate.

The last 24 hours saw government troops and their Lebanese and Iranian allies fully encircle the countryside north of Aleppo and cut off the main supply route linking the city – Syria’s largest before the war – to Turkey. Ankara said it suspected the aim was to starve the population into submission.

Aleppo would be the biggest strategic prize in years for Assad’s government in a conflict that has killed at least 250,000 people and driven 11 million from their homes.

Video footage showed thousands of people, mostly women, children and the elderly, massing at the Bab al-Salam border crossing. Men carried luggage on top of their heads, and the elderly and those unable to walk were brought in wheelchairs. Some women sat on the side of the road holding babies and awaited to be allowed into Turkey.

“It feels like a siege of Aleppo is about to begin,” said David Evans, Middle East programme director for the U.S. aid agency Mercy Corps, which said the most direct humanitarian route to Aleppo had been severed.

The leader of a prominent rebel group active in northwestern Syria confirmed that government-allied forces were tightening their grip on the northern Aleppo countryside, and that heavy Russian bombing carried on unabated.


“The Russian (air) cover continues night and day, there were more than 250 air strikes on this area in one day,” Hassan Haj Ali, head of Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, a group that fights under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, told Reuters.

“The regime is now trying to expand the area it has taken control of … Now the northern countryside (of Aleppo) is totally encircled, and the humanitarian situation is very difficult,” he said.

Syrian state TV and a monitoring group said the army and its allies had seized the town of Ratyan north of Aleppo, building on gains made earlier in the week. Haj Ali said the town had not yet fallen, but that there were “very heavy battles”.

The Syrian army and its allies broke a three-year rebel siege of two Shi’ite towns in Aleppo province on Wednesday, cutting off a major supply line from Turkey to Aleppo.

Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub, has been divided for years between a section under government control and areas that are in the grip of rebels. Much of Aleppo, including a UNESCO heritage old city, is largely in ruins.

Haj Ali said most of the fighters on the government side were “Iranian and from Hezbollah, or Afghan”.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency said Revolutionary Guard Corps Brigadier-General Mohsen Ghajarian has been killed in Aleppo province, as had six Iranian volunteer militiamen.

The five-year civil war pits a government led by Assad, a member of the Alawite sect derived from Shi’ite Islam, against a range of insurgents who are mainly Sunni Muslims, backed by Saudi Arabia, other Arab states and Turkey. Western countries have also lined up in opposition to Assad.

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4 thoughts on “Thousands flee as Russian-backed offensive threatens to besiege Aleppo

  1. Thank you for sharing this news Gordon, I have noticed recently in UK that the news is being dumbed down a lot and
    we are not getting to hear of things that are happening in the Middle East quite so much on the news or with problems arising from Migrants in Europe unless you buy a newspaper that is supportive of exit from European Union you might not hear of the women being raped by migrants and other very negative aspects. I think we are being fed just what the government wants us to hear before we are called to vote on EU membership. I think people are being kept in the dark literally!

  2. Thanks for your comment Christine!

    I agree, and as a matter of fact, I just watched the last video from Hal Lindsey speaking up about this very thing! The German news reporting agencies failed to report the mass rapes, gropings, and violent acts against women in Cologne. They and the government were hiding these facts from the public, and instead portraying these heinous incidents as instigated by the women! And also labeling these refugees as innocent victims, as friendly and peaceful!

    If this is one incident which has come out into the light, then just how many more are there? And since most European nations are in favor of allowing tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into their countries, then how many of them are also covering up such atrocities?! How many are twisting the truth and actually lying about what is really happening?

    The same holds true for the Middle East. The truth about Israel and the Jews has been covered up, lied about, and twisted into turning them into bad, and the Palestinians as good! This is also true in our universities here in America, where the students are being fed lies about Israel, and the majority of students support the Palestinians and have become antisemitic! Even though Israel is surrounded by nations who seek to destroy her from being a nation and off of the map. How difficult is it to see what the Palestinians are doing to the Jews, when they teach their children from birth to hate, kill, and destroy the Jews and Israel, when their leaders (such as Abbas) tell their people to attack innocent Jews and kill them, when they support terrorism around the world?! People in the world are ignorant and blind!

    Another piece of the prophetic puzzle which has come into play is Russia moving into Syria! When this happened it just about blew my mind! Isaiah 17 (The Destruction of Damascus) is in the process of being fulfilled, however, with Russia moving in, this sets up the stage for the Ezekiel 38 prophecy, when God puts a hook into the jaw of Gog from the land of Magog to attack Israel. If all these things are happening now, then just how close are we to the beginning of the Tribulation period? How much closer to the rapture of the church!

    God bless Christine! Maranatha!

  3. Thanks for your question Dave!

    I don’t believe that the name “Aleppo” is directly mentioned, however, it may be mentioned by another name. I don’t know.

    God bless!

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