Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Syrian army continued to besiege rebel-held areas in northwestern Aleppo on Tuesday amid fears that Syria’s largest city will follow Homs and be completely recaptured by government troops.
The head of Aleppo’s Provincial Council, Abdul-Rahman Dadam, held a news conference in Istanbul on Monday, during which he warned against the Syrian army’s advance in the strategically important northwestern governorate, and particularly around the city of Aleppo itself.
Dadam confirmed that Damascus had stepped up its aerial bombardment of Aleppo in recent weeks, holding the international community responsible for the ongoing siege in the city. While Jalaluddin Khandji, Aleppo’s representative in the main opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, called on “democratic countries and international organizations to stand with the Syrian people who have been abandoned to battle against the terrorism of both the Assad regime and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”
The head of the Revolutionary Command Council in Aleppo, Yasser Al-Najjar, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Rebel fighters have withdrawn from the Aleppo front after finding themselves in a hopeless position, stuck between the regime on the one side, and ISIS on the other.”
The Syrian rebels who have remained in Aleppo fear being cut off from supplies and at the present time are still able to receive medical and military supplies via Kafr Hamra in the northwest, but government forces are advancing, he said.
While Najjar agreed that the Syrian rebels in Aleppo were increasingly being besieged, he also said that government forces were not yet in a position to be able to storm the city.
“This step would require a large number of fighters. The Assad regime is presently unable to muster a sufficient number of fighters to do this, particularly given that the Iraqi militias who were fighting alongside the army have returned home due to the security situation there,” Najjar said in reference to the ISIS advance in Iraq.
The Aleppo Revolutionary Command Council leader called on the international community to intervene to stop the fall of Aleppo. “The fall of this city into the hands of the regime means the fall of the revolution itself,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government’s air force continued bombing districts of Aleppo on Monday and Tuesday, killing a number of residents. Official state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday that Syrian troops had eliminated 24 rebel positions in the city and its environs while the pro-Assad Al-Watan newspaper reported that rebel movement in Aleppo had been “paralyzed” after Syrian troops struck rebel positions and supply lines.