Syria: Aleppo's fate in the balance as IS advances

Syria: Aleppo's fate in the balance as IS advances
Despite the backing of Russian war planes, a major Syrian regime offensive in Aleppo is being reversed as IS militants advance on Syria's largest city.
2 min read
27 October, 2015
Syrian rebels have been fighting off a regime offensive in Aleppo [Anadolu]

The fate of Syria's largest city hangs in the balance, as Syrian regime troops battle for control of a vital artery to its forces in Aleppo, as Islamic State group fighters advance on its northern stronghold.

The Khanasser-Athrayya road is the only existing overland supply route for regime forces in Aleppo, connecting them to government-held provinces to the south.

IS militants allegedly cut the route earlier this week after they captured a checkpoint in Therian, south of Aleppo.

Syrian troops and allied militants now face a terrifying siege from IS fighters, who are infamous for their mass slaughter of captured military personnel and rebel fighters.

On Tuesday, IS forces entered the edges of Safireh, a town that borders Aleppo to the southeast, and houses a number of regime arms' dumps.

"IS has broken the defensive lines of the regime in Safireh, which is the most important military bastion for the regime in the southern parts of Aleppo province," Rami Abdel Rahman, directors of the observatory, told AFP.

IS claimed this video shows its fighters capturing a checkpoint
in Aleppo, but this cannot be independently
verified by al-Araby al-Jadeed

According to pro-regime newspaper al-Watan, Syrian troops are also attempting to retake the supply route.

A video posted on YouTube appears to show IS fighters capturing a checkpoint on the road, although the content cannot be independently verified by al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"If IS manages to hang on to the road, it will break the back of the regime's offensive in Aleppo," Amar al-Halaby, a Syrian journalist, told Syria Direct.

IS published a statement online saying that the "regime's primary defensive lines have fallen".

Two weeks ago, Syrian forces launched an aggressive offence against rebel-held positions in the hotly contested northern city, backed by Russian air support.

Heavy Russian bombing of Aleppo and other provinces has forced 120,000 Syrians to flee for safety.

Regime forces are also trying to reach besieged troops at an airbase surrounded by IS militants in Aleppo province.

The capture of the regime bases also possibly opens up another front for rebel fighters against IS fighters.

As opposition forces continue to fight of regime advances, they are also engaged in an exhausting military campaign against the miltiants in Aleppo province, who have been bolstered by Russian bombs targetting rebel positions.

The Syrian army, sapped of manpower, is largely rellying on foreign Shia militias in its northern campaign.

Rebel forces, including al-Qaeda, managed to retake control of two farms the southern countryside area of Aleppo, killing a number of pro-regime militants.

Meanwhile clashes continue in the Saif al-Dawleh district of the city, a formerly upper-class neighbourhood now in the hands of the rebels that has been completely obliterated by regime shelling and bombs.

Syria Direct