Once more, we find ourselves facing a huge efflux of contradicting media reports, and awaiting with great anticipation what can only be described as the largest battle in the Syrian current crisis. And once more, we find ourselves facing a level of propaganda that the world has probably not seen since the Soviet War in Afghanistan in the 80s of the last century.
But who is fighting who in Aleppo, in reality? Is Aleppo a revolting city? Where did the opposition rebel fighters come from? What is the nature of these fighting groups?
Liberating a non-revolting city from its own people
Over the past 16 months, Aleppo has proven to be loyal to the Syrian government. Analysts from all over the world have been trying to explain how Aleppo did not join the revolt against Assad, citing different economical, ethnic, and political reasons. Foreign Policy, in this article, tried to reassure readers that Aleppo will be joining the revolt, despite its silence so far. But that was on February 21st, 5 months ago, and we still have not seen the sizable demonstrations the editor talked about. Aleppo has even been mocked by the Syrian opposition, with a banner once reading “Aleppo wouldn't rise even if it took Viagra.”
Since the beginning of the crisis, Aleppo has failed opposition activists several times. These activists declared June 30, 2011 The “Aleppo Volcano Thursday”, promising they would occupy main squares in the city with protesters. This did not happen, despite getting many activists from other cities to travel to Aleppo that Thursday. Attempts to get Aleppo involved continued, using the city’s university student sometimes, and neighboring countryside areas some other times, but never succeeding in gathering sizable demonstrations, even when they succeeded in organizing ones inside the city itself.
On the other hand, pro-government activists managed to gather huge marches in the city’s main square, Saadallah Al Jaberi, several times. Take a look here, and here (please slide to 0:40) for example.
This situation caused Aleppo to be targeted by the opposition. In this video, the opposition’s prominent sheikh Adnan Al Arour threatens businessmen who “support Shabiha”, i.e., refuse to join the opposition, and he specifies Aleppo in particular. These threats were taken seriously by the opposition rebels, and a few businessmen were assassinated in Aleppo, such as Haytham Khankan (SFA claiming responsibility in this report by Ilaf), and Mahmoud Ramadan, whose death caused a lot of confusion, after SFA claimed responsibility on their Facebook page, then denied. Moreover, The Syrian Grand Mufti, who is originally from Aleppo, was punished for not defecting by the murder of his son, Sarya Hassoun.
So all in all, Aleppo has not been a revolting city, and the only explanation for the rebels statement that they are “liberating” Aleppo would naturally be that they are planning to liberate it from its own people.
Who is the Syrian army fighting in Aleppo today?
Islamic rebel groups
In this video, rebels who attacked the Syria-Turkey border crossing in Baba Al Hawa are declaring their victory under Al Qaeda flag.
This video shows Altawheed Brigade (Unity Brigade), which includes fighters from different groups united under one leadership. Islamic banners are abundant in this video.
Moreover, some opposition Sheikhs have been exploiting Friday prayers to incite violence against the Syrian troops, such as this Sheikh, who did his Friday speech with his gun, calling for Jihad. Not only that, but Sheikhs who refused to join the opposition are being punished, and Sheikh Abdul Lateef Al Shami, a known friend of Syria’s Grand Mufti, who was abducted from the mosque during Al Taraweeh prayers and killed, is not the only example.
Reuters’ news flash on how Turkey and other countries set up a secret base to “aid” Syrian rebels confirms what we have known for a while. Syria Tribune’s editor discussed this matter in detail with RT in this report. Of course the word “aid” is misleading. What kind of aid is Reuters talking about? And what is the final purpose this aid serves?
Their aid has resulted in killing Syrian troops, as you see in this video and this video. It also resulted in “aiding” rebels in kidnaping who they claim to be security personnel and Shabiha (see here and here), but of course there is no proof for their claims. These people may have already lost their lives, thanks to Turkey’s aid. Not to mention the humanitarian treatment kidnapped people get from the rebels.
Too sum up, we have a city that has been loyal to the government since the beginning, infested by ruthless Islamic militia, while the Syrian Army is preparing a counter attack. Yet, you may hear news on main stream media like “Syrian Army shelling peaceful neighborhoods”, or “punishing neighborhoods for demonstrating against the government.” Something we heard before several times, before the truth became clearer.