The Washington Post reports the reason for these targeted attacks is the fear that al Qaeda affiliated groups are preparing to mount terror attacks against Western targets from strongholds in Syria. The Independent report does not mention al Nusra or al Qaeda specifically but says that SAS has been given a list of 200 British jihadis to be captured or killed, based on the fear that they will attempt to return to Britain and perform acts of terrorism there. A British defence official was quoted as saying that the mission could be the most important ever undertaken by the SAS in its entire 75-year history. "The hunt is on", an official is reported as saying, "to take out some very bad people".
This is very interesting because both countries have supposedly been fighting these terrorist groups for several years - in fact since before 9-11. But wasn't the Western intervention in Syria supposedly to fight terrorist groups - especially ISIS? As far as I know no official cessation of hostilities against al Qaeda was ever declared. So if the intelligence services of the USA and UK have known the whereabouts of these bad people, why have they delayed acting for so long, and only now declared it a matter of urgency?
It should be noted that part of the "cease-fire" agreement in September between the US and Russia, was that the US would pass on to their Russian counterparts, intelligence on extremist positions. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence the US had passed on no information at all on the location of terrorist groups in Syria. If they have information on the whereabouts of these "bad people" (which the current reports suggest is the case) then it seems that the cease-fire agreement with Russia was undertaken in bad faith, or perhaps to put a better spin on it, that there were players on the US side who had no intention of cooperating with Russia, and who wanted to sabotage the cease-fire.
So why are these NATO allies acting now to take action against the terrorist extremists? One thing that has always looked suspicious in this whole Syria debacle is that the US and its allies have had so little success in combatting ISIS and al Nusra. ISIS has, on more than one occasion, been allowed to drive in convoy across the desert to capture towns, such as Raqqa and Palmyra. In spite of the US having complete control of the air (before the Russians entered the fray) and having superb satellite and other reconnaissance capabilities, the US was unable to detect and stop this convoy of Land Cruisers and trucks from covering hundreds of miles of open desert. It beggars belief.
Of course a much more plausible explanation is that the Western powers and their allies had no intention of destroying ISIS and al Nusra. As I have been saying for some time now, the main purpose of US-NATO intervention was regime change. They wanted the terrorist groups to fight and destroy the Syrian army and to see Bashar al Assad removed from power. They cared not at all for the fact that the Assad regime would be replaced by a very murderous collection of jihadi groups. But now they are very concerned.
The reason? Well I think they see that the cause is lost. Russia and Assad will prevail. The ascension of Donald Trump to the Presidency has probably speeded this outcome, but I suspect it would have happened, in the long run anyway - although Hillary Clinton might have been prepared to risk war with Russia to try to prevent this outcome. Maybe seeing the war is lost they do, as they claim, want to prevent jihadis moving to Western countries. But again I think there is a much more plausible explanation.
When East Aleppo falls, there could very well be a lot of documents, weapons and people which would prove very incriminating to the US and its allies - evidence which would show how the US has been supporting al Nusra (al Qaeda) for quite a long time now. This would corroborate reports such as this one
in the Daily Express of an interview with Nusra commander Abul al Ezz with a German reporter. He claims that militants have been receiving “sophisticated weapons” from their backers to help them succeed against the Syrian government. He also claimed that when al Nusra was “besieged, we had officers from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and America here… Experts in the use of satellites, rockets, reconnaissance and thermal security cameras.” He added al Nusra “won battles thanks to TOW rockets. Due to these rockets, we reached a balance with the regime. Our tanks came from Libya via Turkey, joined by the [BM-21] multiple rocket launchers.”
So when East Aleppo falls, things could be very embarrassing for the US and its partners. If captives are taken, no doubt there would be many who would be prepared to testify as to how western countries (and Israel) supported al Qaeda (= al Nusra = Jabhat Fatah al-Sham). And there will be documents and materiel to back them up.
Just think of it - incontrovertible evidence that the US has been arming, assisting and supporting Al Qaeda! - our enemy in the disastrous War on Terror which has turned the world upside down for the past fifteen years. Whatever credibility the governments of the United States, Britain and other NATO allies have left, would be damaged beyond repair. And too, perhaps some of the leaders would be liable to war crimes charges - illegally trying to overthrow the government of a sovereign country, as well as providing material supported to proscribed terrorist groups. No wonder these leaders are now scrambling to destroy the evidence.
It will not be easy though, short of killing tens of thousands of jihadis and burning what remains of E. Aleppo - and then blaming it all on the Russians, presumably!