Syrian forces, aided by Russian air support, set their sights on Aleppo
We've already reported on major gains made by the Syrian Army — with help from Russian airstrikes — over the last week. Now it seems that the "moderate" rebels might have more in store for them: Syrian forces are preparing a major assault to capture Aleppo. The details:
Once Syria's commercial hub, Aleppo city is now divided between government control in the west and rebel control in the east.
The broader province is split as well, with ISIS largely in the east, and rebel groups and Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate,the Nusra Front, in the west.
But with backing from Russian airstrikes and foreign fighters, Syria's armed forces are slowly advancing south and southeast of the city.
"This will be the biggest military operation in Syria since the beginning of the war," one commander with pro-government forces told AFP.
While expected to play a key role in the upcoming offensive, Russia is also beefing up its own defensive measures with the deployment of Ka-52 attack helicopters, and a new warfare system:
The attack choppers will be used to protect the Russian Task Force deployed to Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, as well as to conduct CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) missions as the one launched to rescue the two pilots who ejected from the Su-24 Fencer shot down by a Turkish Air Force F-16 in November 2015 (during which, a Mi-8AMTSh Hip helicopter was hit by ground fire and later destroyed).
Interestingly, the first Ka-52 deployment will also be an opportunity for the Russians to test new technologies as the KRET Vitebsk EW (Electronic Warfare System).
According to the manufacturer, the Vitebsk can protect the helicopter from anti-aircraft threats in a range of several hundred kilometers, determining who is aiming at the aircraft and, once a missile is fired by a MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System), forcing it away from the designated target.
There's still plenty of fighting left to do, but the "moderate" rebels and their ISIS cohorts are increasingly finding themselves on the defensive.
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