The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPatrick Cockburn Archive
The Rebels of Aleppo Will Fight On, But Assad Has Taken Their Power
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

The defeat of the insurgents in east Aleppo came faster than was expected, though there are still some districts under their control. They were reported to number between 8,000 and 10,000 fighters in the enclave two weeks ago, of whom some 4,000 were experienced combatants belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra (formerly the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria) and their close ally the Ahrar al-Sham group.

The weakness of the resistance is probably the result of being under intense artillery fire for over a month without the ability to retaliate. Though the Syrian government and Russian air strikes have been the main focus of the foreign media, it is shelling by artillery which does most of the damage in easy Aleppo and other besieged rebel strongholds in the rest of Syria.

The armed opposition were divided; different parties fought each other as recently as November. There was also probably a feeling among the rebels that the outcome of the battle was inevitable once it became evident that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, their allies since 2011, were not going to do anything to support them.

The siege of east Aleppo only really got underway this summer in July when Syrian government forces cut the Castello road which had been the main supply route into the rebel zone. The rebels counter-attacked successfully in August when they broke through the government lines at Ramouseh in the south west of the enclave. The attackers were led by Nusra suicide bombers and suffered heavy casualties from air strikes, possibly losing as many as 500 dead. They did not have the firepower to keep the breach in the government encirclement open and the siege resumed on 21 September. The enclave began to contract rapidly under the impact of repeated attacks.

The Syrian government’s strategy since 2012, of surrounding rebel held zones and depopulating them through shelling and bombing, was dictated by lack of troops. But from September on the Syrian Army and paramilitary forces were numerous enough to keep up constant pressure on the rebels. It seemed possible that they would make a stand in heavily populated areas in the city centre where buildings are close together and streets are narrow. So far this has not happened. It may now be too late for a last stand, as happened in the city of Homs a couple of years ago.

There is a big contrast here with east Mosul where Isis has slowed the progress of the Iraqi army and counter-terrorism forces to a crawl, inflicting heavy casualties on them. The UN says the Iraqi army lost upwards of 2,000 dead in November alone, most of the losses being suffered in and around Mosul city.


A difference may have been that Isis is the only armed insurgent movement in Iraq, while in Syria the armed opposition is disunited, Isis had complete control of Mosul for over two years and was able to build up its defences, notably a network of tunnels, as well as recruiting hundreds of suicide bombers driving vehicles packed with explosives. It is the mass use of suicide bombers not anti-tank or anti-aircraft missiles that are essential to insurgent success against a heavily equipped enemy.

Rebels will fight on in Idlib, where they are likely to get support from Turkey, and in the south of Syria where they get aid though Jordan. But they have been losing their enclaves in Damascus as well as Aleppo, so the non-Isis forces will have difficulty continuing the struggle. What remains unclear is whether or not Isis will benefit from the defeat of the rest of the armed opposition.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: ISIS, Syria 
Hide 10 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. The jihadi cannibals never had the slightest bit of public support in Aleppo. One of the most persistent myths about Aleppo was (and was repeated by Haaretz) that “Aleppo joined the Syrian revolution/rebellion in June 2012.” As Aleppo resident and former anti government activist Edward Dark wrote in “How we lost the Syrian Revolution”, and as even Reaganite Canadian columnist Gwynne Dyer admitted, there never was a “rebellion” in Aleppo. What there was in June 2012 was an invasion by rural gangs of thugs and criminals intent on looting and revenge on the city people. From the start it was an invasion and occupation.

    Even the British crapaganda outlet The Guardian quoted a jihadi gang commander in 2012 admitting that 70% of the East aleppo people were against their “revolution”.

    Of course, this is a defeat for the American regime change cabal and its puppets. That’s why they’re howling like rabid hoolock gibbons.

  2. Some rebels have started attacking the government forces again.

    The Russian Reconciliation Center reported that some militants in eastern Aleppo attacked the Syrian army on Wednesday morning, violating ceaserfire and withdrawal agreements with the Syrian government.

  3. Anonymous [AKA "Beli medved"] says:

    Why Corporate news media call these terrorists including this article – “Rebels”?
    Can some one explain that to me? Rebels with tanks, modern heavy weapons that are fighting side by side with extremist jihadists against democratically elected Government!! Give me a brake.
    These people are terrorists by the UN and Western countries definitions.
    How these people would be called if we have the same situation in US or Canada-Rebels or Terrorists? I know the answer but why double standard?

  4. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    {Though the Syrian government and Russian air strikes have been the main focus of the foreign media, it is shelling by artillery which does most of the damage in easy Aleppo and other BESIEGED rebel strongholds in the rest of Syria.}

    Shame on you. It is clear that western intelligence services, CIA – MI6 – Mossad, and their embedded ‘journalists’ and propagandists are using BESIEGED instead of LIBERATED city of Aleppo because these war criminal, pimps and trained terrorists had agenda to topple the elected President, Al Assad, to change the map of the region for the ‘greater Israel’ and erect the second Israel, Kurdistan, using the traitor kurds to grab and, like the criminal Zionist jews, in occupied Palestine.

    Know your enemies by looking for the ‘besieged’ words instead of LIBERATED city, and you can find out WHO IS AN AGENT OF THE MI6, CIA and Mossad posing as ‘journalists’.

    BBC, MI6, NPR, USG spokespersons and other Western media, all using the word besieged, for the liberated Aleppo city.

    Please read the following: A Clean Break, to find out why these agent of propaganda are so angry.
    Death to enemy of the Syrian people and Assad, Down with the criminal West. Fuck off from the Middle East and Africa NOW. Down with apartheid entity and Zionism/imperialism.

  5. Agent76 says:

    December 08, 2016 Bipartisan Bill Would Forbid US Funding ISIS, al-Qaeda Affiliates

    Gabbert-Rohrabacher Bill Would Effectively End CIA Program Arming Syrian Rebels. The Stop Arming Terrorists Act (SATA) has been introduced today in the House of Representatives by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – HI). The bill is a bipartisan effort, co-sponsored by Reps. Peter Welch (D – VT), Barbara Lee (D – CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R – CA), and Thomas Massie (R – KY) which would forbid the US government from using taxpayer dollars to arm, fund, or train terrorist organizations.

  6. the lion says:

    The formally Al Qaeda affiliate Jahab Al Nusra, how is one a former Al Qaeda affiliate? Of course also in the list of its funders was the Missing United States of America we should not forget that none lessor a personage than the Sitting US Senator for Arizona John McCain went and visited in Syria even illegally entering Syria (just who did organize the trip) and meeting up with Al Nusra Front terrorists oops Insurgents! Noting that there were Photographs taken of him there and in those Photographs were people who have been identified as Senior Al Qaeda operatives and also people who were to become the leaders of ISIL AKA ISIS AKA Daesh just so we dont mistake actually who he met up with and their organisation this was in 2013 before the Split between Al Nusra Front and ISIL, there are plenty of Photographs so just Google John McCain in Syria for a rundown of the stories and the Photographs!

    The United States unleashed Al Qaeda on a foreign Government, a known proscribed Terrorist group under both US domestic law, remember that comment in the Bush days about the little old Swiss Grandmother who donated money to a charity that if it was used to aid and comfort an Al Qaeda Operative it would have been a major crime worthy of life imprisonment! Well there in those Stories of Senator John McCain in Syria there illegally he made the comment that We meaning the United States Government should be funding these people referring to the Al Qaeda people he had just met! That by the way was both material support for the Terrorist group Al Qaeda or one of its affiliate that was what the AUMF said was a crime of such magnitude that the President could authorize the immediate termination of an American Citizen WITHOUT trial for doing that. Of course it was also am unlawful declaration of War by a senior elected Senator on foreign soil which there is little doubt that it was a treasonous act! Nothing done though on any of the crimes!

    Facts are these if it wasn’t for the Illegal regime change attempt carried out by the US, ther would be no Problems of this magnitude in Syria, there would be no millions of Syrian and regional refugees fleeing from the Al Nusra Al Qaeda and ISIS threats of be headings for being of any other religious affiliation other than Salafist Sunni, there wouldn’t be little girls kidnapped and used as sex slaves, there wouldnt be 2000 year old churches and Synagogues destroyed noting that they were not destroyed even in the days of the Prophets original expansion throughout the region, which beggars the question as to authority to do so now!

    There is one group to blame and they were the ones that decided that using Al Qaeda would be a good idea in the first place, but it gets better what were they going to do when those Salafists looked down from the Golan Heights onto Jerusalem just a scant 100 kms away and decided that the Holy city was theirs for the taking, and what is the name of the plain about halfway between the Heights and Jerusalem ……..oh thats right Armageddon, and remember we are talking about a US government that has a military and a Congress that has become extreme with Christian zealotry, an attempt to make religious prophecy to come true!

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Aleppo Liberated: Washington Post Finally Admits “Rebels” Invaded Syria – It was not an Uprising

    {For months as terrorists backed by the United States, Turkey, and their Persian Gulf allies lost significant ground to the Syrian Arab Army in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, the battle was characterized by the Western media and Western politicians as a brutal assault on the city’s residents – the extinguishing of a 6 year-long uprising.
    With the city of Aleppo now fully liberated, it is important for the alternative media to catch these lies and the Western media’s retrospective admissions to telling them, in order to maintain momentum in favor of the Syrian people as they attempt to restore security and order across their nation.}

    All progressives and anti imperialists/zionists use LIBERATION for Allepo, but the war criminals’ in Washington, Tel Aviv and Britain refuse to do so.

  8. @Anonymous

    Zionists like to pretend that the war in Syria is a revolution against the evil Assad. The truth of course is that Syria is another victim of Anglo/Zio Imperial aggression. Terrorist is a meaningless term. Cockburn’s “rebels” are best described as imperial mercenaries.

  9. Max Payne says:

    I still don’t know how there are so many fighters. Palmyra fell to 2000-5000 fighters. There is 8000-10000 fighters in Aleppo. How many are in Iraq or as reserves? Where are they finding these people? How do you co-ordinate all that with the level of technology ISIL has? And more importantly how can you co-ordinate all that and not get detected?

    Where were these Ali Babas when the US occupied the country for 8 years?

  10. @Anonymous

    It’s good that you recognise how the nuances of language use impacts the perception of the masses and how that creates a false reality to our detriment. Hopefully, with your participation, more and more of the masses will soon come to recognise these tricks too.

    Directing people to articles and comments here at Unz is not a bad course of action towards that end, it’s easy enough and there are more people here of a like mind too. Cheers

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Patrick Cockburn Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr