Vice News reports: Rebels north of Aleppo had already been stretched thin, attempting to balance fronts against the regime, the Islamic State, and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their allies. The latest push by the regime of Bashar al-Assad – and, in particular, relentless Russian bombing from the air – proved too much to handle.
“The regime is relying primarily on the Russian air force. Its jets are in the air constantly,” said Col. Ahmed Uthman, military commander of local rebel faction Firqat al-Sultan Murad.
Locals described the nonstop aerial bombing and the shelling of the area as “scorched earth” tactics.
“There’s no parity between these Russian jets and rebel forces,” said Firas Pasa, commander of Aleppo brigade Liwa al-Mu’tasem Billah. “We need anti-aircraft weapons as soon as possible.”
In addition to Russian airpower, the regime’s Syrian Arab Army is also backed by various paramilitary forces, including Iraqi Shi’ite units. “We’re no longer facing Bashar’s army, the army of Abu Flip-flops,” said a media official with a rebel brigade in the north who requested anonymity, using a derisive nickname for the regime’s exhausted military. [Continue reading…]