Now that the siege of Aleppo has come to an end, it may be the right time to write the down the first reflections about the doomsday lived by the civilians in Aleppo. These reflections are the very first, later ones will follow to discuss the reasons behind the collapse of Aleppo and what is to be expected concerning Damascus and Idlib provinces.
First, Every time a retreat takes place, accusations emerge that there was a betrayal apace. This kind of rumors is familiar in the Syrian revolution (war), it became a part of the Syrian factions dispute and the anti-revolution media struggle.
Second, The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is a group of militias that are internally diverse each with its own independent leadership. These ‘groups’ cooperate but have their internal conflicts, and we can’t in any case say they abandoned a battle, but instead we should specify which faction has left, simply because it’s impossible for all of them to leave altogether, or even to agree altogether on one principle, decision, or battle.
Third, Aleppo is very complicated: beginning of August, a supply line to Aleppo was opened through the break of the siege (on the Military academics area), but soon thereafter, the Turks made a deal with the Russians and the Iranians that can be summarized as Aleppo (for the latter) for Jarablus (for the former). Afterwards, Turkey ordered the Syrian factions to withdraw from Aleppo to join its army in Jarablus battle against ISIS. This fact left eastern Aleppo without experienced fighters; only local fighters remained, fighters who used to guard a calm frontline in the city. More than 4000 experienced fighters left Aleppo alone.
Fourth, four days after supply lines were open for Aleppo, Turkish troops entered the Syrian territory and left the Syrian revolutionaries and the AQ forces and Islamic militias on their own.
Fifth, the efforts to fortify the supply line failed due to many factors, but above all due to the Turkish withdrawal. It is worth metnionening that after five years of military action, Turkey fully controls the Islamic group, and controls 80% of the FSA factions,. Moreover, Turkey destroyed many of FSA factions such as Jamal Marouf army, and Hazem Movement simply because they had different points of view than the Turkish ones.
Sixth, during that period, when the supply line was open, Nusra Front (Former AQ branch in Syria) got around 300 fighters in (Aleppo) to add to the 400 that were already there. While there is no less than 7,000 to 10,000 fighters in eastern Aleppo, Fat’h Alsham (Al-Qaeda former branch in Syria) has no more than 10% of the military human resources there.
Seventh, the supply line was opened by the FSA factions inside Aleppo and they were the ones who broke the siege of Ramoussa in coalition with the Fat’h Army (Nusra and Ahrar al Sham), the latter came from military academics area from outside Aleppo.
Eighth, everything collapsed when the Turkish army coordinators withdrew; the various factions of the militias started to fight each other. Jeish Al Fat’h (Nusra and Ahrar) started attacking (politically and later militarily) the FSA factions.
Ninth, Aleppo was left unprotected with the Islamic militias promising that they would reopen supply lines and liberate Western Aleppo. Meantime, Turkey asked certain factions of the FSA to leave Aleppo (both city and province) to fight in Jarablus and offered them higher salaries to do so.
Tenth, the Russians bombarded Aleppo in an unprecedented way and made the Iranians, Hizbollah, Iraqi mercenaries attack Aleppo in conjunction with the remnants of the Syrian army and its militias. The Russian airplanes attacked mainly all the supply lines, infrastructure, civil places, and then left the remaining targets to be destroyed by Syrian regime airplanes. The Russian airstrikes focused on the rest of Aleppo province and Idlib.
Eleventh, these advances were unprecedented and a situation of surrender and collapse among the opposition forces started to occur. With a huge media effort and media war, the Russians made the collapse go faster; the internal conflicts created by Islamic groups did the same.
Twelfth, some opposition militia members have surrendered to the Syrian regime earlier. These groups were originally from Aleppo who then joined either the FSA or the Islamisc groups; in other words, they were closer to being mercenaries.
Thirteenth, the constant bombardment, the long siege of Aleppo, the destruction of the civilian infrastructure-hospitals, water pumps, electricity, goods depots, medications depots, civil defense,- the use of napalm, chloric gas, and the war of rumors (including the electronic and hardcopy of pamphlet being circulated) hastened the fall of several fronts. In addition to the reasons mentioned earlier, the following reasons also contributed to the collapse:
Fourteenth, the military operations conducted by the Islamic militias (Nusra, Ahrar, and Zinki) against the groups of the FSA while these groups were fighting the regime’s army and its militias, demoralized the fighters and made each group very suspicious of the other. Many fighters decided to withdraw out of Aleppo to avoid being killed stealthily “from behind”. To make things worse, the Islamic militias robbed the military warehouses of the FSA inside Aleppo.
Fifteenth, Russia reduced the number of war points or the fronts (around Syria) from 600 fronts in the summer of 2015 to 200 with the start of the battle of Aleppo. This was done through a truce held with villages and towns that were sympathetic with the rebels or through crushing towns like Darayya. Regardless of how the number of fronts was reduced, it allowed the Russians to concentrate their military efforts in Aleppo.
Sixteenth, the pamphlet that was being circulated was part of a well-orchestrated campaign conducted by various agencies, including the Russian Sputnik, to spread rumors to demoralize fighters and population.