There have been regular reports that the Russian bombing campaign in Syria has mainly targeted the most dangerous enemies of the Assad regime. That would include the “Free Syrian Army”. Now, after bombing them for some weeks, Russia is offering them assistance. Russia offers air cover for anti-Assad rebels.

Speaking after a surprise summit between Syria’s embattled leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin this week, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged moves towards presidential and parliamentary polls in the war-torn country.

Representatives of Syria’s Western-backed opposition sounded incredulous, saying Russia should first stop bombing moderate rebels and that talk of elections was premature.

And that is not all that is going on in Syria.

Battle cuts Syrian government-held road to Aleppo

Aleppo is divided into a western section controlled by the government, and an eastern section held by insurgents.

The attack by Islamic State on the road appears to be a response to the government advance towards the Kweiras air base, where Syrian troops are besieged by Islamic State fighters.

The government ground offensive is backed by allied militia and Russian air strikes.

A separate ground offensive is also targeting Syrian rebel groups to the south and southwest of Aleppo and government forces have captured a number of villages in that area.

It looks to me like the Russians have bit off more than they can chew. Or it may be that the Russian offensive was merely a delaying tactic to give the Russians enough time to withdraw from Syria. That notion was wild speculation when I first suggested it. It doesn’t seem so wild today.

Update: 29 October 2015 1352z

Islamic State Cuts Off Crucial Supply Line for Syrian Regime to Aleppo – WSJ

Islamic State militants cut off a crucial supply line for Syrian regime forces and allied Iranian militias to the northern city of Aleppo after days of fighting, opposition activists in the area said Tuesday.

Aleppo is the largest city in Syria. It is currently half controlled by anti-regime forces.

Fierce battles were continuing Tuesday between Islamic State and pro-regime forces around the town of Safira, about 16 miles southeast of Aleppo, according to opposition activists. Some of these activists said Islamic State was already in control of parts of Safira.

The town lies on a critical supply line for the regime running from parts of Aleppo city that it controls to neighboring Hama province to the south and onward to the central city of Homs and the capital Damascus.

Fighting has also been under way for days at other junctures along the supply line, most notably around the towns of Athriya and Khanaser, farther south from Safira.

A news website linked to Islamic State called A’maq said regime reinforcements sent to Athriya on Tuesday were compelled to retreat after militants detonated bombs planted alongside the road.

On Monday, Islamic State captured a regime checkpoint on the stretch of road between Athriya and Khanaser in a coordinated assault that included a suicide car bombing, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based opposition group monitoring the conflict through activists inside the country.

I have also seen anecdotal reports that Syria is pulling fighters from the North of Aleppo who are trying to hold an airbase there in order to use them to reopen the highway. If the highway is kept closed the fight for the air base by Syria is doomed because of lack of supplies.

Logistics is the key to warfare.

I might add that if Aleppo is lost Damascus is next. According to maps I have seen ISIS is on the edge of Damascus to the West of the city. (more details in the WSJ article)

And if the US intervenes on the ground in Iraq? If they push ISIS to the North into Syria Assad is totally doomed. Not that he isn’t already. It just comes sooner.