Returning to the theme of the Syria War, today I have this piece by Russian military correspondent Evgeny Krutikov. Krutikov reports that, over the past few days, the Syrian army has managed to “split into two” the Aleppo Cauldron. In Russian military terms, a “cauldron” (literally a “kettle”) is a pocket into which the enemy troops have been forced, and from which they cannot escape, as they are surrounded on most sides.
Step #1 is to pick the location of the Cauldron (if possible), and to start pushing the enemy into that pocket. Which pocket may start off being geographically huge; but the goal is to get it smaller and smaller.
Step #2 is to cleave the cauldron down the middle, into two sub-cauldrons. And then continue recursively splitting. Which is what is going on here, according to Krutikov. From Friday onwards, the Syrian government forces, along with their allies, have been re-taking one block after another of East Aleppo, in many cases no longer even encountering any effective resistance from the part of the terrorist “Rebels”. The plan, all along, was to split East Aleppo into a series of mini-cauldrons. This has proved effective, not just in the military sense, but also psychologically. The jihadists become claustrophobic, are afraid to get trapped in a mini-cauldron, and have started to depart from the north-eastern sector of the besieged city.
For example, the terrorist grouplet “Fatah Khaleb” has abandoned the block known as Hajdarija and continues to retreat from the block known as Bustan al-Basha. Both of these areas were important to the Rebs, and they had vowed to fight to the last bullet to keep them. But the Syrian army is slowly, but surely, re-taking these neighborhoods, block by block.
Even Al-Jazeera had to admit that the Syrian army, a couple of days ago, re-took the important housing complex known as Hanano. The fighting was done by an elite division of the Syrian army, known as the Tigers. This was the pivot upon which the pro-Syrian forces were able to start splitting the Aleppo cauldron down the middle. In the course of just two days the “Tigers” were able to narrow the distance between Western and Eastern fronts down to a single kilometer. The only rebel-held piece remaining in this one kilometer patch is a neighborhood known as Sakhur.
In addition to the Tigers, much of the fighting is done by units of the Republican Guard, as well as a group called “Eagles of the Desert”.
The advance of these forces has sown terror into the hearts of the terrorists. But also, unfortunately, the local civilians, many of whom remain trapped inside the Cauldron, along with the terrorists. For the first time since the opening of the so-called “humanitarian corridors” (during which only a handful of civilians ever actually were able to escape out of East Aleppo to the government-controlled areas, we’re talking somewhere around 10 persons per day, and that was on a good day), one can now talk of an actual mass exodus of ordinary people. Whom the terrorists continue to try to prevent from leaving. But people are escaping, nonetheless, as the terrorists lose their grip. During the past 48 hours, around 2000 people have managed to escape from Rebel-held to government-held sectors.
An analogous ongoing process is the continuous surrender of terrorist forces to the government troops, especially from the “Fatah Khaleb” group. At least 50 jihadists have surrendered so far, with more expected. Not every terrorist decides to commit suicide, when push comes to shove. Meanwhile, other terrorists holed up in the Sakhur mini-cauldron are still fighting. The Damascus government decided to extend their offer of an amnesty for several weeks. Government spokespersons say they are in negotiations with several of the terrorist grouplets for an organized surrender. Damascus has hope of ending this bloodshed fairly soon.
Meanwhile, Russian air support continues to pound at the jihadists, and it is said with pride that Russian air power assisted significantly in the Hanano breakthrough. Things are moving quickly now — despite the bitterness of the U.S. and other Western nations which supported the Moderate Terrorist forces, a Syrian victory is looming. In fact, the entire jihadist front may well collapse even before President Obama moves out of the White House. Which would mean that the current U.S. State Department will leave office, having watched their team lose. And, hundreds of thousands of innocent lives later, that bitter loss will be their legacy.