October 12, 2016

GREATEST WAR EVER:

Rebel advances in central Syria set back by infighting (AP, Oct. 12, 2016)

The Hama region, which has a religiously mixed population, is an intersection between central and northern Syria and the Mediterranean coast. The rebels hoped their blitz would reduce pressure on the northern city of Aleppo, which has been under blistering Syrian and Russian air attack.

The key for the opposition was to cut government supply lines between Aleppo and Assad's strongholds in Damascus and the coastal region.

That did not happen.

On Oct. 7, heavy fighting broke out in the nearby Idlib province between Jund al-Aqsa and the powerful, ultraconservative group Ahrar al-Sham. That group blamed the other for assassinating several of its local commanders.

Both groups then withdrew from battling government troops, allowing the army to launch a counteroffensive and regain control of 14 villages and towns since the weekend.

The infighting "turned the situation upside down," said Turkey-based opposition activist Ahmad al-Ahmad, adding that government forces within three days regained 30 percent of the ground they lost in a month.

The fighting eased after the al-Qaida-linked Fateh al-Sham Front said Jund al-Aqsa will be folded under its command -- a move that will make the front much more powerful. Sporadic skirmishes continue, but the fighting has effectively wrecked both the rebel offensive and any possible rescue of Aleppo.

Such disunity and rivalry has plagued opposition and armed rebel groups in Syria from the beginning. Turf wars and internal power struggles have often impeded rebel advances, allowing government forces to take advantage and gain territory.

Posted by at October 12, 2016 3:54 PM

  

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