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Monday, February 15

Aleppo and the gathering storm in Erdogan's regime

"The situation continues to get progressively worse for the Turkish-backed Islamist rebels, as they are once again being kicked out of another village in northern Aleppo by the Kurdish forces."

“It’s an absolutely unacceptable situation – what’s going on there on the Turkish-Syrian border. Syria complained to the Security Council, and provided all the materials on this issue. We will definitely support raising this issue in the Security Council,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told RT on Monday.

“The international community and the global media are so concerned about the humanitarian situation in Syria, about accusing Russia doing this or that, and they paid no attention to what’s going on not far from, or just on, the Turkish-Syrian border and what Turks are doing there and the humanitarian situation there -- it’s a disaster.”


I have no idea how many moments ago this was because AMN does not use time stamps for their reports [sighing] but a short while ago, Damascus time:
BREAKING NEWS: Islamist rebels launch new offensive at Al-Bureij in northeast Aleppo
By Leith Fadel 15/02/2016
AMN
Moments ago, the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Harakat Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, and Jabhat Al-Shamiyah launched a new offensive in northern Aleppo to seize the imperative village of Al-Bureij near the Sheikh Najar Industrial District.
According to preliminary reports from northern Aleppo, the Islamist rebels attempted to advance from the Hanano District towards Al-Bureij, where they were confronted by a large force comprised of soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the National Defense Forces (NDF), and Kataebat Al-Ba’ath (Al-Ba’ath Battalions.
Currently, the Islamist rebels and the Syrian Armed Forces are involved in a fierce firefight at the southern axis of Al-Bureij; this battle has been going on for quite some time, with neither side making any significant advances in the past.

Yesterday, the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham attempted to captured the strategic hilltop of Tal Al-Madafa near the village of Handarat in northern Aleppo; however, they were repelled by the National Defense Forces after a 4 hour long battle.
While it may appear that the Islamist rebels are making a comeback in northern Aleppo, this is a completely different front that is located near the Sheikh Najar Industrial District and has nothing to do with the battle taking place along the Aleppo-Gaziantep Highway.
[END REPORT] 
As to how many fronts there are in Aleppo Province currently -- if you can figure that out please let me know.  The following four reports were also filed by Leith Fadel today, February 15, for AMN: 

Kurdish forces enter Kafr Naya as rebels flee northern Aleppo
The predominately Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) – backed by Jaysh Al-Thuwwar of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – have reportedly entered the village of Kafr Naya in northern Aleppo this morning after advancing to the strategic town of Tal Rifa’at the day before.
Last week, the Syrian Arab Army’s 154th Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division – alongside Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi paramilitary), Liwaa Al-Badr (Iraqi paramilitary), and Kata’eb Hezbollah (Iraqi paramilitary) – captured Kafr Naya from the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Harakat Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, Jaysh Al-Mujahiddeen, and Jabhat Al-Shamiyah.
However, during their push south towards Tannourah, the Islamist rebels reportedly fought their way back into Kafr Naya, where they were able to establish full control of this village after a short battle.
If Kafr Naya is captured by the YPG and SDF, the Islamist rebels will no long have a presence in Al-Zahra’s northern countryside; thus, creating a new front-line border between the Kurdish and government forces in northern Aleppo.
The situation continues to get progressively worse for the Turkish-backed Islamist rebels, as they are once again being kicked out of another village in northern Aleppo by the Kurdish forces.
[END REPORT]
Turkey transfers 500 Islamist rebels to northern Aleppo
The pressure is mounting on the Turkish regime to help their Islamist rebel allies in Syria, as they lose ground to both the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the predominately Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) in the Aleppo Governorate’s northern countryside.
According to reports from government sources, up to 500 Islamist rebels from Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group) and Faylaq Al-Sham (Al-Sham Corps) were allowed passage through the Bab Al-Hawa border-crossing into Turkey in order to travel to the Bab Al-Salamiyah crossing into the rebel-held city of ‘Azaz.
These reinforcements are likely to help Jabhat Al-Nusra, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Harakat Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, Jabhat Al-Shamiyah, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) at the strategic village of Tal Rifa’at in northern Aleppo, where they are currently under attack by the YPG and their allies from Jaysh Al-Thuwwar of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The decision to send the reinforcements to the Kurdish front is likely due to the proximity of the YPG and SDF fighters to the Bab Al-Salamiyah border-crossing and the rebel stronghold of ‘Azaz.
As of now, the YPG is on the fringes of Tal Rifa’at; however, they are expected to enter this strategic village in the coming hours, despite Turkish efforts to forestall this advance.
[END REPORT]
Kurdish forces seize rebel stronghold in northern Aleppo: activists
The predominately Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) – backed by Jaysh Al-Thuwwar of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – have reportedly captured the strategic village of Tal Rifa’at in northern Aleppo after a weekend filled with intense firefights against the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Jabhat Al-Shamiyah, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, and Harakat Nouriddeen Al-Zinki.
According to several social media activists, the YPG and SDF have taken full control of Tal Rifa’at; however, no footage has been released as of yet to confirm whether or not this news is accurate.
Last week, several reports were prematurely released about the capture of the Mennagh Military Airport in northern Aleppo; it was later seized 48 hours after the initial reports of its capture by the YPG and SDF fighters.
Earlier this morning, the YPG and SDF reportedly entered Kafr Naya after the Syrian Armed Forces withdrew from the village during a brief battle with the Islamist rebels over the weekend.
As a result, YPG activists have reported the capture of Kafr Naya, marking another decisive blow to the Turkish-backed rebels in northern Aleppo.
On Monday morning, the Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoglu issued a statement that warned the YPG to not push north to the strategic border-city of ‘Azaz; if they do so, they will be attacked Turkish artillery.
[END REPORT]
Onward to Misqan:  

Hezbollah, Syrian Army enter Misqan in northern Aleppo
A half hour after the predominately Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) and their allies reportedly seized the rebel stronghold of Tal Rifa’at in northern Aleppo, the Syrian Arab Army’s 154th Brigade of the Republican Guard – alongside Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), and several Iraqi paramilitary units – entered the village of Misqan after a violent battle with the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Jabhat Al-Shamiyah, and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham.
The village of Misqan is located directly south of Kafr Nisah, which is considered the last site before reaching the rebel stronghold of Tal Rifa’at in the Aleppo Governorate’s northern countryside.
According to a military source inside the provincial capital of the Aleppo Governorate, the Syrian Armed Forces and their allies are in control of 50 percent of Misqan village and still advancing north.
[END REPORT]
Wikipedia:
Azaz is a city in northwestern Syria, roughly 20 miles (30 kilometres) north-northwest of Aleppo ... On 19 July 2012, during the Syrian civil war, rebels opposed to the Syrian government succeeded in capturing the town.[5] The town is highly valued as a logistical supply route close to the Turkish–Syrian border.
Azaz was mostly controlled in early 2015 by Northern Storm, a brigade under the authority of the Islamic Front.[2] A Sharia Committee is responsible for the administration of Sharia law, and is policed by the Northern Storm brigade.[2] A Civil Council governs the field of public services.[2]
As of January 2015, al-Nusra Front has a presence in the town and controls one mosque.[2] By October 2015, the control of the town was shared between Nusra and a brigade of the FSA.[6]
SYRIA: KURDISH YPG CUTS ROAD BETWEEN MILITANT-CONTROLLED TALL-RIFAAT AND AZAZ
February 15, 2016 [no time stamp]
SouthFront
According to reports, the Kurdish YPG units have cut the road between the militant-controlled towns of Tall-Rifaa and Azaz. The Kurdish has established a fire control of the road with sniper and mortar fire.
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Turkey "won’t let" Azaz fall to Kurdish militia, shells YPG targets for 3rd day
Published time: 15 Feb, 2016 10:06 - Edited time: 16:48
RT
[see site for videos]


Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu said on Monday Ankara will not allow the town of Azaz in northern Syria to fall to the Kurdish YPG forces and promised the "harshest reaction," if the group attempts to re-take the city.

"YPG elements were forced away from around Azaz. If they approach again they will see the harshest reaction. We will not allow Azaz to fall," Davutoglu told reporters aboard his plane bound for Ukraine, Reuters reported.
He said the Turkish military would render Syria’s Menagh air base "unusable" if YPG forces do not retreat from the area, which they previously captured from Islamist militants. He warned the YPG not to move east of its Afrin region or west of the Euphrates River.
Turkish security forces hit Kurdish militia targets in Syria for the third day in a row Monday. A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said the strikes came after a border security outpost was attacked in the morning.
"Today our border security outpost in the Hatay area at the Syrian border was attacked. Retaliation shots were fired in return," spokesman Tanju Bilgic told reporters.
News has also come in that missiles hit a children’s hospital, a school and other locations in Azaz, killing more than 14 people, according to a medic and two residents who were cited by Reuters. Speaking at a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Davutoglu claimed that a “Russian ballistic missile launched from the Caspian Sea” hit both the school and the hospital.
Meanwhile, a Turkish security official speaking with Reuters said seven Russian missiles struck a hospital.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Turkish strikes on Syrian territory breach the UN Security Council’s resolution, and called on Ankara to cease immediately the ongoing "military provocations."
“Starting February 13, Turkish artillery amassed on the border with Syria is hitting on a massive scale the Syrian residential areas recently freed from the terrorists by government and Kurdish forces,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement said. "There are multiple reports of people killed and injured among the civilians; the infrastructure and residential buildings have been destroyed."
"In the meantime, according to incoming information, the Turkish side continues to indulge an unlawful infiltration of fresh armed jihadi and mercenary groups into Syria, set to reinforce Jabhat Al-Nusra, Islamic State and other terrorist groups’ units who suffered casualties in the battle."
Kurdish YPG militia and moderate units of the Free Syrian Army re-took the town of Azaz earlier in February, previously held by Al-Nusra Front militants.
On Saturday, the Turkish Army launched a massive shelling attack on Kurdish targets near the city of Azaz in northwest Syria, including an air base recently retaken from Islamist rebels. It also hit Syrian forces across the border, according to media reports.
Speaking on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu threatened Syrian Kurds with military action, saying that if there is a threat to Turkey, “we will strike the PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party] like we did Qandil,” referring to a violent bombing campaign waged by Turkey against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) in its Qandil mountain stronghold in northern Iraq.
Later in the day, the Syrian government sent an official letter to the UN, strongly condemning Turkish actions and describing it as supporting terrorist groups.
“In addition, Turkish artillery bombarded the towns of Maraanaz, al-Malikiyah, Minagh, Ain Dakna and Bazi Bagh, which are home to the civilian population,” the complaint addressed to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council said.
The letter added that 12 trucks mounted with heavy machine guns and carrying around 100 fighters entered Syrian territory from Turkey through the Bab al-Salam checkpoint on Saturday. The claim was later denied by the Turkish government.
“It’s an absolutely unacceptable situation – what’s going on there on the Turkish-Syrian border. Syria complained to the Security Council, and provided all the materials on this issue. We will definitely support raising this issue in the Security Council,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told RT on Monday.
“The international community and the global media is so concerned about the humanitarian situation in Syria, about accusing Russia in doing this or that and they paid no attention toward what’s going on not far from or just on the Turkish-Syrian border and what Turks are doing there and the humanitarian situation there - it’s a disaster.”
Washington and Paris have called on Turkey to cease its massive artillery bombardment against Kurdish targets and de-escalate tensions on all sides.
“We are concerned about the situation north of Aleppo and are working to de-escalate tensions on all sides,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “We have also seen reports of artillery fire from the Turkish side of the border and urged Turkey to cease such fire.”
Referring to comments from US State Department spokesman John Kirby, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said Ankara is "shocked" by remarks from Washington that put Turkey in the same basket as the Kurdish YPG group. Kirby urged both Turkey and the Syrian Kurds to focus on tackling a "common threat" from Islamic State militants.
Bilgic added Turkey will not seek permission to fight against "any terrorist organizations."
The French Foreign Ministry also urged Turkey to halt the artillery strikes on Kurdish areas in Syria.
"France is worried about the deteriorating situation in the region of Aleppo and the north of Syria. We call for the cessation of all bombardments, those of the regime and its allies on the entire territory and those of Turkey in the Kurdish zones," Paris said in a statement.
[END REPORT]


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