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Aleppo is living nightmare of future battle

Russian armored vehicle in the streets of Aleppo - February 17, 2017 (Sputnik)

Russian armored vehicle in the streets of Aleppo - February 17, 2017 (Sputnik)

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Enab Baladi – Mais Hamad

The silence in Alaa’s room is interrupted by a shell after every 15 minutes. His attempts to ignore the sounds of shells were in vain. “There are no exam conditions here,” says Alaa, from the city of Aleppo to Enab Baladi. “We are all waiting and wondering: What is awaiting Aleppo?” he claimed.

 The sounds of bombing and ambulances became part of a daily series that Alaa and his companions in the university housing in Aleppo used to hear during their preparations for exams at the university.

Aleppo is witnessing intermittent shelling that official sides accuse the opposition factions in Aleppo countryside of conducting, while the opposition denies that and expressed that it is fabricated by the regime to justify its attack in the countryside of Aleppo, as the western neighborhoods of the city are a springboard for crowds on the front and bases to bomb opposition areas.

The Syrian regime forces took control over the entire city of Aleppo in December 2016, after a Russian bombing, which had led the opposition to sign an agreement to leave the eastern neighborhoods and displace about 75,000 civilians, according to UN figures.

The regime is expected to launch a battle against the fighting factions in the western countryside of Aleppo, to reach the international route “M5,” after its efforts from the side of the Idlib countryside failed.

 The Russian agency “Sputnik” said, early January, that military reinforcement of the forces of “the 4th Armored Division” entered the city of Aleppo to strengthen the southern and western front of the countryside.

 In December 2019, the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian regime forces, Major General Salim Harba, asserted that “the people of Aleppo will witness great victories achieved by the Syrian army after the upcoming Christmas and New Year.”

 How is the timing reversed?

 Pharmacist Azza, 38, told Enab Baladi: “I do not imagine that there is a bad scenario awaiting Aleppo, which we can talk about as much as the military buildup was on the western countryside of Aleppo, but the city remains far from what is going on in its countryside under protecting political agreements between Moscow and Ankara. Even if the opposition factions can militarily confront other parties, they will always be subject to an external party.”

The fears of the taxi driver Abu Iyad, 58, are not limited to what is awaiting the city at security and military levels. However, he sees that the battle would occur at the wrong time because it will represent another argument in front of merchants and sellers to raise the prices of food commodities that have become priced according to the shifts in the exchange rate of the Syrian Pound.

Abu Iyad could not hide his fear for his two daughters, who are university students, of the bombing. He pointed his finger at the Health and Red Cross Directorate ambulances that announced the mobilization during the last month, which are distributed on the roads of the western neighborhoods of Aleppo.

What is gone will never come back, no alternative?

 Pages on Facebook issued warnings demanding that the people do not leave their houses in the neighborhoods of New Aleppo and al-Zahraa, west of the city, warning of the presence of armed groups tracking down the empty houses to steal them, according to “al-Zahraa News Network in Aleppo” page.

Dozens of families expressed their fear of the coming days, especially from the theft of their houses, according to the comments on the warning, which Enab Baladi monitored.

Between fears of displacement and the possibility of staying at their houses, the sounds of shelling are heard clearly near the house of Amal Masoud, 79, a retired teacher who lives with her husband in a house in New Aleppo.

“The sounds of the bombing are no longer annoying. My husband and I can barely hear the sound of the TV or the doorbell,” she said sarcastically. “There is no other place where I can stay except at my house. All of my children are dead. There is no place to fear thefts, what has gone will never come back.”

Roua A, 21, who preferred not to reveal her full name, is looking for another house that is less expensive in the city center. “The bombing has no time; you feel for a moment that the walls of the house will come down,” She stressed.

“All my furniture is new; I hear about house thefts in the areas near western Aleppo; I do not want to live such an experience,” she said, referring to her photo with her husband at their wedding, two months ago.

Crowds from both sides

 A military source at the Ramousa Air Force School told Enab Baladi that the regime worked to bring military staff and officers of the “4th Armored Division” and “Republican Guard” to Aleppo, to be distributed on three fighting lines. The first line is formed by the “4th Armored Division,” followed by the “Republican Guard,” and finally the “Baqir Brigade” stationed in the “1070 apartments” project western of the city.

The “Anadolu Agency” said that according to local sources, there are reports about crowds and military reinforcements coming from the Iranian “Revolutionary Guard” and the Palestinian “Jerusalem Brigade” and other militias to the western Aleppo countryside fronts, on January 17.

An article published by the Iranian “News Archive” website, on January 21, spoke of the role of forces recruited by the Iranian “Quds Force” as “Fatimiyoun” and “Zainabiyoun” that fight in several countries including Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, holding pictures of Qasim Soleimani accompanied by Afghan fighters in Aleppo countryside, Syria.

On the other hand, the Syrian National Army reinforced its entire military fronts in the countryside of Aleppo, after the military build-up of the regime forces in the area, according to the army spokesman  Youssef Hammoud.

Hammoud told Enab Baladi earlier that the “National Army” monitored the arrival of reinforcements by regime forces to the southern countryside of Aleppo, accompanied by heavy vehicles.

Hammoud added that the regime forces withdrew their members from several axes to send them to Aleppo countryside, especially from the Sahel front and the eastern region.

There is no filmed confirmation yet about these military crowds, except for a video published by Ebaa Agency, affiliated to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, on December 16, 2019, showing fighters digging a trench, calling themselves the “Aleppo City Battalion” and a leader from them talking about his faction’s readiness to fight on the fronts of the western countryside of Aleppo.

Despite the fact that the battle has not officially started until the moment, the attacks launched by the Syrian regime on the western outskirts of Aleppo have begun to be reflected in the figures of relief and human rights organizations documenting violations in the region.

Khan al-Sabil, Kafr Laha, Kafr Taala, Atarib, Darat Azza, Anjarah, Greater Awam, Al-Izbimo and other districts of the western countryside of Aleppo are caught in the crossfire after they were in the recent past the direction of the displaced people, who have no ally or guarantor other than the cloudy weather,  the coordinator of “Doctors Without Boundaries, ”Christian Runders, told NEWSWEEK on January 21, 2020.

On January 23, the Syrian Response Coordinators counted 68,000 displaced people from the western countryside of Aleppo who fled to the Ghazawiya crossing, one of the crossings between Idlib and northern Aleppo, searching for a rescue from a Russian-Syrian military escalation from which the refugee tents were not spared, according to documented video footage released on January 23, 2020, by the “Syrian Civil Defense.”

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