Terror zone shift: Syrian insurgents 'try to set up new belt of strongholds' (Op-Ed)
Consultant and peace activist Christoph R. Hörstel told RT that his information “is directly obtained from Syrian security personnel of various origins personally taking part in battles and other operations, and/or close relatives of such personnel – some are even well-known people.
“The information reaches me through a partner in Turkey. I counter-check all information obtained this way as best as possible under the circumstances,” Hörstel said.
He gives an outline of the military’s activities from Syria.
House-to-house clearing is almost complete, but is continuing in nearby Rastan and the city district of Khaldiyeh.
Insurgents and terrorists are escaping now in the direction of Hafeh, where safety was restored only last weekend. But now insurgents and terrorist forces from the Turkey-Idlib area are gathering there, joined by the escaping forces from Rastan, Homs and Khaldiyeh.
These forces now try to set up a new stronghold in Hafeh as a replacement for the lost base in Homs. Hafeh is an important and vital crossing point into Turkey and exit to Idlib, from where more transfer routes lead further east to terrorist camps in Turkey.
Syrian officials on the new frontline stretching from Hafeh to Hassakah in north-eastern Syria are trying to prevent the establishment of a buffer zone on its soil close to the Turkish border. According to these officials, the new leadership of the Syrian National Council (SNC) have called on Kurdish groups to join the rebels in Hassakah but local tribal leaders appear to have rejected the idea for the moment.
The Syrian Army is carrying on with house-to-house operations and has destroyed a massive amount s of stockpile of smuggled weapons and communication devices. They claim to have killed more than 1200 insurgents and terrorists in recent days and at the same time are concentrating on preventing the establishment of the aforementioned terror zone in the Hafeh-Hassakah border belt.
The terrorist influx from camps in Turkey causes repeated clashes in Azaz, a town opposite Turkey’s border town Kilis, north of Aleppo. A month ago, around 3000 infiltrators were located on the Idlib-Azaz line – and the Syrian army killed or captured 800 of them in Azaz alone. The rest were situated in Idlib, and though they were taken out a month ago, the continuous terrorist influx from the Turkish camps makes Idlib and Azaz another front line.
Azaz is a crucial gateway to Aleppo. There appears to be a belt being established by insurgents stretching from Hafeh to Idlib, via Aleppo and Azaz to Hassakah.
One of the most terrible developments of this war is that terrorists are forcing civilian males to stay together and fight against security forces. They offer money, shoot family members if they don’t co-operate and even go so far as to transfer family members of forced fighters to Turkey. If civilian males continue to refuse to fight side by side with the terrorists and insurgents, these civilians are not let go but sometimes shot summarily, sometimes whole families, as happened in Houla.
Terrorists are using psychological pressure to force some civilians to carry improvised explosives by taking hostages. As an example, they take a family hostage and order the father to drive his car very close to military checkpoints or military tanks, then they explode the car by remote control from a distance. That is what happened in Rastan yesterday. A civilian car fully loaded with explosives was blown up by remote control right next to two tanks. The incident was brought to light by the wife and surviving sons of the car-bomb driver's kidnapped family.
All in all, the new Hafeh-Hassakah line will be crucial from now on. Hafeh can be considered as important as Hama, but situated at the western end of the mountain line. It is another vital point on escape and supply routes to and from Turkey and possibly a new stronghold for insurgents and terrorists.
Christoph R. Hörstel for RT
Сhristoph R. Hörstel is managing director at Hörstel Networks, Government & Business Consulting. http://syria-help.blogspot.de/