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The Battle for Aleppo: HTS Opens New Front to Draw Syria and Russia Away from Idlib


Russian Sukhoi Su-57 fighter bomber (Image: Courtesy of Russian Ministry of Defense)

Khaled Iskef
21st Century Wire

The military situation in southern and western Aleppo is getting hotter, after Hay’at Tahreer Al-Sham (aka HTS, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) had violated the armistice announced by the Russians and Turks about 10 days ago, and prevented civilians from leaving through the three crossings opened by the Syrian Army in the rural areas of Aleppo and Idlib, in addition to bombing the populated neighborhoods deliberately resulting in casualties and injuries among Aleppo civilians.

In return for the violations of HTS/al-Nusra, the Syrian Army’s response came at an accelerating and unlimited pace, as its targeting of terrorist positions expanded to the far western countryside of Aleppo.

During the last 48 hours, there were more than 40 raids of Russian and Syrian warplanes on HTS sites in Tall Shuwaynah, Maarat Al-Arteeq, Al-Mansoura, Kafrnaha, Kafr da’el, Darat Ezza, Anjarah, reaching the town of Al-Atareb in the west, and these air raids extended to Khan Al-Asal town, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Khantouman, Khulsa and Al-Zerba to the south.

The supply lines, warehouses, and training centers have become part of the permanent targets of Syrian and Russian air forces. During this period, militants are believed to be suffering dozens of dead and wounded, many of who were transferred to Atma Hospital in Idlib countryside near the Syrian-Turkish border, including fighters from the “Turkistan Islamic Party” (Uyghur terrorists), according to sources.

It appears that the military encroachment of the Syrian Army to secure the western and southern Aleppo countryside has come close, militarily speaking, in implementation to positions outlined in the Sochi Agreement, even though diplomatic efforts had largely failed in light of Turkey’s inability to implement its promises to pressure terrorist-classified groups to withdraw from Aleppo-Damascus International M4 Highway, and also from the Aleppo-Lattakia M5 Highway.

The Syrian-Russian air strikes coincide with large surge of HTS militants near the western and southern regions of Aleppo, by bringing in massive militant reinforcements from Idlib, while information was received about the arrival of a number of booby-traps in the vicinity of the western frontiers of Aleppo city.

Not far from Aleppo and its battle, the eastern countryside of Idlib is witnessing further developments – with battles still going on and HTS  is trying to restore the villages to which the army advanced east of Khan al-Sabil village, but the army by its cohesive defense and opening several axes to fight managed to disperse and confuse the armed forces.

Although Turkey recently has provided HTS terrorists with Grad rockets, which were fired into Aleppo a few days ago, targeting the Al-Sukkari neighborhood killing 7 civilians.

Despite these latest terrorist incursions, the military superiority of Syrian Army, with Russian air support, is still making progress on multiple fronts now, including the continuation of reconnaissance flights monitoring the international M4 and M5 roads, in addition to old Idlib road which passes through Atarib town, and which is the main route for HTS/Al-Nusra supplies coming from Idlib northern countryside.

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Author Khaled Iskef is an independent researcher and journalist based in Syria. His work has appeared on a number of international media outlets including Al Mayadeen TV. See his archive here.

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

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