Lately, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has launched a major counter-offensive which aims to reopen the supply line from central Syria (Hama) to Aleppo city. By capturing Khanasser (Khanasir) and a few other villages, government forces have reduced the ISIS-held road to 4 miles; just yesterday, it was 7 miles. According to a military source close to al-Masdar, the SAA intends to recapture the road entirely within the next 48 hours to come.
Remarkably, ISIS fighters might become trapped in just hours as government forces continue to advance. Just a small escape route, largely made up of desert sand, links ISIS troops with the ar-Raqqah motherland which represents the capital of the self-proclaimed caliphate. Therefore, fighters of the Islamic State must either retreat while time is due or face persistent airstrikes of the Russian Airforce as well as seasoned government troops.
Currently, Tiger Forces (an elite specialized SAA offensive branch) are leading the efforts to recapture the road; however, their soldiers are also backed by hundreds of troops from the Syrian Arab Army’s 47th Regiment of the 11th Tank Division, the Republican Guard, the Liwaa Al-Quds Brigade, National Defence Forces and Al-Ba’ath Battalion. Earlier this month, the very same Tiger Forces unit captured more than a dozen villages from ISIS in eastern Aleppo and thus secured a steady supply route to Kuweiris Airbase.
However, over the past 4 days of combat, many government soldiers have died in battle:
– 49 soldiers from different SAA branches (Tiger Forces, Republican Guard, 47 Regiment).
– 13 soldiers from pro-government militias (National Defence Forces, Liwaa Al-Quds Brigade).
– 5 fighters from paramilitary militias (Al-Baath Ba’ath Battalion).
– 4 officers of the Syrian Air Defence.
On the other hand, ISIS casualties amount to an estimated 130 to 150 fighters since launching their offensive a week ago; however, the exact figure can not be confirmed by Al-Masdar News.
Since ISIS cut the supply line to Syria’s largest city a week ago, government offensives elsewhere in Aleppo province have been temporarily halted as regional Syrian Arab Army commanders (most notably, Major General Suheil Al Hassan) found themselves forced to reconsider priorities inside the governorate. Whether or not Tiger Forces will recapture the final ISIS-held villages is yet to be proven; however, with the Russian Airforce blowing the area to smithereens, ISIS faces a considerable task in repelling them.