Recently the strategically important town of Kasab in northern Syria (Latakia province) has been captured by rebels.
Losing Kasab (a predominantly Armenian town just south of the border with Turkey) is a disaster for the Assad-regime.
- Because Kasab was the only crossing on the Syria-Turkey border still controlled by the Assad regime. At the moment the Syrian government has lost control of ALL its border crossings with Turkey.
- By concurring the Kasab-area the rebels managed, for the first time ever, to reach the Mediterranean. it is now much more easy for them to fight their way southwards in direction Latakia – the heartland of president Assad’s Alawite sect.
- Turkey clearly still fully supports the rebels in Syria. To make the rebel advance possible in the Kasab-area, Turkeys air force created a De facto no-fly zone above it. This made it very difficult for Assad’s pilots to attack the advancing rebels from the air. Also reliable sources claim that the rebels allegedly were allowed by Turkey to move from inside Syria (east of Kasab) into Turkey and use Turkish territory to move back into Syria (north of Kasab). Last year the Turks also allegedly allowed rebels from Syria to use such a corridor through Turkey. Although at the last moment the attack on Kasab was cancelled.
- After losing territory around Yabroud and Aleppo to pro-Assad-forces, the victory of Kasab is an important moral boost for the rebels in Syria.
The battle for Kasab also makes it clear why it really is more accurate to speak of “rebels in Syria” instead of “Syrian rebels”. Sure, many rebels are Syrians, but many also are not. On many fronts now Syria’s revolution is fought and guided by rebels who are inside Syria but don’t have the Syrian nationality. Btw, on the regime side there are also many non-Syrian fighters like Lebanese or Iraqi Shi’ites.
The battle of Kasab is an example of how “rebels in Syria” are not necessarily “Syrian rebels”.
The very well informed tweep @CaucasusAffairs (who is with rebels inside Syria) tweeted today that the attack on Kasab was led by “Abu Moussa the Chechen” (a Chechen) who went for jihad to Afghanistan and hooked up with Mullah Omar.
Below the English translation of two tweets by @CaucasusAffairs on Abu Moussa the Chechen:
“To those asking me about Abu Moussa the Chechen – who is the head of the military operation in Kasab – he is one of the mujahideen from Sunzha-sector in Chechnya where he was under the command of emir Muslim. Then he moved for jihad with Mullah Omar in Afghanistan. And now he is the military emir of Ansar as-Sham, which follows the Islamic Front. Abu Moussa the Chechen is the one who led the operation in Kasab and he planned for it.”