Aleppo faces ISIS “siege nightmare”

Prices have skyrocketed as residents of regime-controlled parts of Aleppo face fuel shortages.

Regime-controlled quarter of Aleppo. (AFP/Joseph Eid)

BEIRUT – Fears have risen in regime-controlled quarters of Aleppo after ISIS cut off the government’s main supply line leading into the city late last week.


Pro-Damascus daily Al-Akhbar published a report Tuesday on the situation in Syria’s second city, saying the mood among residents has worsened after “the great extent of the breach ISIS has achieved” on the key front became clear.


Describing the feelings of regime supporters in the Aleppo, Al-Akhbar reporter Basel Dayoub said that the city’s residents were “remembering the nightmare of the first siege in 2013,” in reference to a rebel siege from August to October of that year.


The period was marked by the hardships suffered by residents of the regime controlled areas of east Aleppo, which saw an increase of prices and shortages of basic staples.


The prospects of another long-siege renewed last Friday when ISIS seized a stretch of the Khanaser-Ithriyah highway southeast of Aleppo—cutting off the main regime controlled route into the city—while rebels staged fierce counterattacks against the Iranian-backed government offensive southwest of Aleppo.




Prices skyrocketed in Aleppo after news of the ISIS victory filtered through the city, which has been split in half between the rebels and regime since 2012.


“It seems the city’s traders [were] standing ready to devour the news of the Khanaser-Ithriyah road’s closure,” Al-Akbhar’s Dayoub wrote.


Traders in regime held areas of the city, the Al-Akhbar journalist said, had monopolized supplies that entered the city via the lone supply route “hiding them from the markets or arbitrarily raising their prices.”


“The price of fruit and vegetable multiplied immediately and supplies ran out within two days,” he explained.


“The price of fuel has tripled after the consumption of the amount allocated to gas stations for daily consumption.”


Rebels squeeze regime


The regime’s loss of the vital Khanaser supply route has been coupled with military setbacks on the Ramouse front in the southwest of the city, where rebels were able to advance against regime forces.


“Matters were made worse by the broad assault on the Ramouse front, which has caused traffic in the city [to grind to a] halt,” Al-Akhbar reported.


The regime’s recent setbacks on the front led to the decline in the amount of incoming “agricultural goods and commodities produced to the southeast [of the city],” according to the pro-Hezbollah daily.


“Residents’ jubilation after the army’s victories and big advances in the [city’s] southern and eastern countryside has become to a lump in the throat with the consecutive setbacks."


Al-Akhbar added that the Ramouse gas plant was knocked out of operations after it was shelled, while electricity has been cut-off amid “periodical cuts of drinking water.”


Blackout fears


The regime-held areas of Aleppo now face the potential of dramatic electricity cuts due to shortages of fuels for generators, with strategic reserves expected to last only two weeks.


“The strategic fuel depots in the city hold over two million liters of benzene and diesel which is enough [to provide] for the bakeries, hospitals and the government administrative [institutions] for around 15 days,” Al-Akhbar warned.


A source in the province told the paper that “repair workshops are working to restore the production line in the gas plant and the province is continuing to supply bakeries and hospitals with the fuel they need.”


“Supply of fuel to private generators has stopped.”


Dayoub added that “the city is truly dependent on private electricity.”


“Generator owners have shut them down and reduced operating hours as prices have increased, sometimes reaching 1,400 Syrian [approximately $4] pounds for one ampere.”

Regime-controlled quarter of Aleppo. (AFP/Joseph Eid)

Residents’ jubilation after the army’s victories and big advances in the [city’s] southern and eastern countryside has become to a lump in the throat with the consecutive setbacks.

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