ISIS seizes ground from Aleppo rebels under cover of Russian airstrikes

The Guardian reports: Islamic State militants have scored their most significant advances in the province of Aleppo, the closest they have come to Syria’s former commercial capital in two years, as it becomes increasingly clear that they are taking advantage of Russian airstrikes against the rest of the opposition to march into new territory.

As Russian planes continued to pound rebel forces in western Aleppo and other frontlines in the country, many of the opposition fighters who ousted Isis from the province at great cost last year found themselves pinned down and unable to halt the terror group’s largely unopposed advance towards the city at the end of last week.

“Russian planes are striking the Free Syrian Army and laying the groundwork for Daesh [Isis] control of strategic areas in Aleppo,” said a source from Tajammu al-Izzah, a moderate opposition group backed by western and Gulf states which has been hit by Russian airstrikes. “The truth is that Russia is backing Isis.” [Continue reading…]

The Associated Press adds: CIA-backed rebels in Syria, who had begun to put serious pressure on President Bashar Assad’s forces, are now under Russian bombardment with little prospect of rescue by their American patrons, U.S. officials say.

Over the past week, Russia has directed parts of its air campaign against U.S.-funded groups and other moderate opposition in a concerted effort to weaken them, the officials say. The Obama administration has few options to defend those it had secretly armed and trained. [Continue reading…]

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