A dying soldier and a faltering regime: who controls Aleppo now?
Lying in the aftermath of a bloody fight, a Syrian army soldier calls his wife. He is injured, dying and desperate. But this one phone call gives us a greater insight than ever before into how far the rebels have progressed in the Northern city of Aleppo.
The battle for Aleppo has been raging since last month, not only on the ground in prolonged close combat fighting but also in the skies, with government forces bombing the city center.
Okaidi, the FSA commander for the province, this week listed more than 30 districts supposedly under rebel control but the regime has fiercely denied these claims.
Our unnamed Syrian army soldier, although fighting for the regime, paints a very different picture from his leaders. In the video, uploaded to YouTube, he says he has 18 bullets in his body.
“I’m dying”, he tells his wife.
“Is there anyone who can help you?” she asks him.
“No everyone is dead,” he replies.
He tells her he is in the Reaf district of Aleppo, not one of those listed as under rebel control. From his dying words we get an image of a regime on the verge of defeat.
Coming direct from the battlefield, this is in direct disagreement with what the president’s representatives have told journalists.
“The terrorists are not advancing, it is the army that is making slow progress,” a security source told AlArabiya this week.
“Terrorist groups occasionally come out of districts under their control and attack other districts to be able to then claim they have this or that street under their control. After that, they quickly return to their lairs,” he added.
Many Syria commentators still believe the regime’s control of the sky will ultimately defeat rebel forces without the appropriate anti-aircraft weapons. But in the war of propaganda this is an outright victory for the revolutionaries.
By Talal Al-shoubaki and Helen Brooks