Syrian rebels assess gains of Aleppo offensive

Syrian rebels assess gains of Aleppo offensive
A Syrian rebel offensive has led to fighters seizing key parts of the Aleppo, but they are still far from their goal of liberating the east of the city.
3 min read
28 October, 2016
Rebels have launched another major offensive on Aleppo [Anadolu]

Syrian rebel groups launched a new offensive on Aleppo on Friday following a wave of defeats to regime forces in the city.

Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and the Salafi-inclined Jaish al-Fatah launched coordinated assaults on West Aleppo, involving around 5,000 fighters and after weeks of planning.

The Syrian opposition said the force launched two-pronged attacks on western Aleppo and Minya in a bid to break the siege on the east, and with the hope of eventually taking Aleppo.

It began with "hundreds" of Grad missile fired on regime positions and the introduction of new weapons to the war - customised armoured vehicles rigged with explosives.

City at war

Aleppo is probably the world's most fought over city, with control roughly split between the regime in the west and rebels in the east.

Both sides have launched numerous offensives to turn the side of the battle, with the regime recently gaining the upper hand curring off East Aleppo.

Its hold over the al-Ramousa "corridor", threatens to starve the population into submission.

Syrian rebels have promised the "mother of all battles" to retake the district, and say this will be just the beginning of "liberating Aleppo".

Former al-Qaeda affiliate, Fatah al-Sham, launched at least three suicide attacks at the start of the operation, while Ahrar al-Sham fighters stormed the initial lines of defence in the Hamadaniya district.

During this phase "hundreds" of rockets were fired and reportedly hit the city's airport putting it out of service. If true, this could limit the regime's ability to bring in new reinforcements, particularly militia fighters from Iran and elsewhere.

The regime also faced a renewed offensive on Kweres airbase in Aleppo by the Islamic State group, east of the province.

Read also: Syrian rebels prepare for 'Mother of all Battles' for Aleppo

So far, the gains from the Aleppo offensive have been modest and did not result in a rout of enemy forces, but rebels have captured important areas of the city.

Perhaps as a result, the Russian military appealed to President Vladimir Putin to resume air raids on the Aleppo, while an aircraft carrier heads to the eastern Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, Damascus said that it was willing to discuss an immediate ceasefire agreement with the Syrian opposition in Geneva.


The attack also saw coodrdination from East Aleppo civilians who flooded the air with smoke by burning dozens of tires and wood pallets.

This is a similar strategy that was employed during the rebels' last offensive on Aleppo last August, and the smokescreen allowed for limited protests to build up in support of the offensive.

By the evening, Jaish al-Fatah rebel group said they had taken complete control of the "Assad district" of the city, which included the 1070 Apartment Project complex.

It was the first time the rebels had captured the area, and will likely serve as a springboard for further offensives into the al-Ramousa district.

This area holds many of Aleppo's industrial and military complexes and key to breaking the siege on East Aleppo.

But the opposition will likely face a long and hard slog for the operation to be fully successful.