Syrian rebels recapture strategic town in Aleppo province

Syrian rebels recapture strategic town in Aleppo province
3 min read
08 February, 2016
Opposition fighters in Syria are pushing back against a regime offensive, which threatens to cut rebel-held territories from Turkey.
The regime offensive continues on Aleppo, displacing hundreds of thousands [Getty]
Syrian rebels have regained control of a strategic town in northern Aleppo, just hours after the regime captured it, opposition sources have said.

"Armed opposition factions were able to impose control again on a village near the city near Kafin," local activists told The New Arab.

"Opposition fighters destroyed a regime tank on the front of Nabul and Zahra and held back regime progression at the villages of Braghida and Khalfatli."

Regime forces recaptured the villages north of Aleppo on bringing troops and allied militiamen close to the Turkish border.

The attacks are part of a major Russian-backed offensive in the area.

The capture of Kafin had brought regime troops just three miles from the town of Tal Rifaat, and about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the Turkish border.

This is the closest regime troops have got to the Turkish border region since they lost Mannagh air base in mid- 2013.

Meanwhile, the Aleppo revolutionary council disbanded itself to help form, with other factions, a unified body for all armed groups in Aleppo.

Protests from Aleppo residents have also taken place demanding that the province's armed factions unify under one command - the "Army of Aleppo".
The Russian air raids were around the clock during the last period and have targeted residential areas and medical facitities.
- Bahaa al-Halabi, media activist

Mass displacement

The government offensive around the city of Aleppo has sent tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing toward the border with Turkey. 

Anakara has said up to 35,000 Syrians have massed along the border, which remained closed for a fourth day on Monday.

"The Russian air raids were around the clock during the last period and have targeted residential areas and medical facitities, causing a humanitarian crisis and the displacement of around 70,000 civilians, most of them children, women and the elderly" media activist Bahaa al-Halabi, told The New Arab from the northern Aleppo region.

He said that this has led to mass displacement in his area, particularly from the towns of Mare,Tal Refat, Menag, Azaz, Kafra Hamra and Rifaat.

"The displaced are suffering from very difficult humanitarian conditions as they face low temperatures and severe shortage of food and medical supplies," he said.

This reflects numerous ruports that a humanitarian disaster in the area is imminent.

Ending the revolution from its roots

"The violent attack on the north Aleppo countryside by the regime and militias have led many to believe that the separation of Aleppo and Turkey may be imminent and a development that may end the revolution from its roots…and I think this is right," said Mustafa Mohammed, a journalist from Aleppo.

Rebels are now faced by the regime to the south, the Islamic State group the east, and to the West are regime-held towns of Nubol and Zahra. To the north there lies Turkey, where the border is closed.

Turkey has come under mounting pressure to open its border posts to assist the fleeing Syrians. Many have been sleeping in cold weather in open fields near the Bab al-Salameh border crossing.

The Turkish deputy premier said Sunday that Turkey has reached the end of its "capacity to absorb" refugees. The governor of the Turkish border province of Kilis said that Turkey would provide aid to the displaced within Syria, but would only open the gates in the event of an "extraordinary crisis".

The army gains have allowed troops to almost fully encircle Aleppo, Syria's largest city and one-time commercial center, preparing the way for a blockade.

The main supply line to the Turkish border has already been cut and many residents of the city were looking to leave, anticipating severe shortages in the coming days.

The army has been aided by massive Russian airpower and fighters from Hizballah, Iran and Iraq.