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The government forces are having  a slow slog whittling down a rebel stronghold in the center of Aleppo in Syria and the map of their advance since October 1st shows little real progress. But the end is approaching for the rebels in Aleppo.

The first map shows the overall situation from a Russian propaganda website. 

This is a screen shot from a video. 

The green are the rebels, the red are the government forces, and the yellow are the Kurds. It appears the government has not engaged the Kurds, or at least has made no progress against them.

The second map, same source, shows the situation on October 11th. It has changed little with most progress to the north and the south of the edges of the eastern boundary of the Kurdish held enclave. It is possible this is evidence of a design of cutting the Kurds off from the rebels. Perhaps they will be negotiated with or isolated and then reduced. 

If you look to the south at Highway 5 you will notice that the rebels lost ground, being pushed up north, except for a small gain which seems aimed at retaking the cement factory. So the rebels are not only holding but capable of launching small localized offensive actions. Their aim is to lift the seige by connecting with other rebel forces outside the encircling ring.

As you can see, the government forces surrounding the rebels in the heart of Aleppo are surrounded on three sides by rebel forces. This may account for their slow gains. The rebels are receiving rockets and others arms from Western powers and have taken to lobbing gas canisters filled with explosives into government held areas.

This screen shot depicts the view of a rebel sniper before taking a shot at what appear to be unarmed men. While one man is hit, subsequent shots miss and there are no fatalities.

While no doubt the government forces and their allies, including Iranian mercenaries and Iranian led militias as well as Hezbolah and Palestinian units, have targeted civilians, so have the rebels.  The rebels are a hodgepodge of disparate forces and to the east of this map are ISIS. Fighting breaks out between factions frequently and the battlefield is confusing.  Almost all post videos of their exploits and battles, which we monitor to review progress and the compare claims. 

In general there are no real professionals on the grounds, at least none on video. The rebels tend to be more undisciplined in every way, including shouting Allah Akbar whenever they shoot, fire a rocket, or even when they are shot at or an enemy shell lands nearby.  Basic fire discipline and small unit tactics are not in evidence, small groups rush and often fire blindly, leading to massive civilian deaths.

In the fighting, civilians and military are mixed, the civilians often just trying to live.  Scenes such as laundry hanging in half destroyed houses with women holding pots and pans while bullets fly are not unusual. 

The government forces are more disciplined but often you do not see professional war fighting at a high level. They are, however, far less emotional and less likely to be seen shooting randomly without having  a target. If I was a civilian and not marked as a political threat, I'd be happier with government forces. 

The rebels are mostly all Salafists and therefore Jihadists, except for Kurds who fall into either a moderate but conservative Islam or a secular socialism.  Some Kurds are friendly to the government and, in general, the Kurds view the Turks and the Jihadists as their enemy though in some places they work even with the Salafist rebels if that is in their interests.  

Alliances are shifting and not often long-lasting. It is possible to be friends today and enemies tomorrow.

It is hard to say how long it will be before the government forces, backed by Iran and Russia, will end the rebel resistance in the center of Aleppo, but it will end. Slowly, the rebels are losing ground as well as men and material, but they are fanatics who will fight the the bitter end.

Government forces are equally as determined and are mostly, if not all, volunteers who believe they are fighting for Syria.  They believe the US, Turkey and other foreign powers are behind this "invasion" of their country and that they are exploring invaders.  Oddly enough, most of the rebels hate the US and Turkey as well, even if or when they get US aid. 

The battle for Aleppo is not over, but the die has been cast and, with winter coming, it is only a matter of time before the rebel stronghold falls. 

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