Syrian Army encircles ISIS forces in Khanasser region
BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:29 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – led by the elite Tiger Forces – has expanded its zone of control over the entire Ethiryah-Rusafa highway and de facto besieged any ISIS forces that may have not yet retreated from the region of Khanasser.
According to a military source, the SAA has, over the last week, repeatedly tried to force ISIS to retreat from the Khanasser region (the terrorist group’s last stronghold in Aleppo Governonate) by leaving open a 20 kilometre-wide corridor of un-liberated space along the Ethriyah-Rusafa highway through which a strategic withdrawal was possible. In any case, it appears that ISIS forces in Khanasser have not taken up the unannounced, yet obvious, offer to withdraw in relative safety and as of this morning, the patience of the Tiger Forces expired.
The Tiger Forces started their operation to expel ISIS from its last string of footholds along the Ethriyah-Rusafa road during the early dawn hours. The operation led to the successful capture of the Zakiyah junction and the liberation of the villages of Salah al-Awad and Jib Ajaj. The Tiger forces stormed these areas from their positions around Rusafa, advancing from the western direction until they linked up with SAA units advancing eastbound via Ethriyah. The ultimate operational result was a general collapse of ISIS forces in the face of their being completely out-manned, out-gunned and out-maneuvered by the SAA.
Lastly, it is also worth nothing that this most recent accomplishment by the SAA has a second strategic benefit in the form of a new, and more direct, line of communication that has now been opened to pro-government forces stationed in the area of Rusafa (south of Tabaqah); the original supply line to this area was exceptionally longer, running from Ethriyah, to Aleppo, to Deir Hafer, to Maskanah, and then finally to Rusafa. The new line of supply runs directly to Rusafa via Ethriyah, shaving many precious hours off the original logistical haul. The capture of this stretch of critical highway will increase the sustainability of any future operations that the SAA may undertake to strike at Deir Ezzor from the northern direction.
ISIS militants withdraw from Aleppo amidst Syrian army advance
Militant fighters of the Islamic State group (ISIS) have withdrawn from Aleppo province amidst advance by Syrian government’s army forces, local sources reported on Friday.
ISIS jihadists have retreated from several towns and villages in Aleppo province, in northwestern Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed on Friday that ISIS withdrew from 17 towns and villages in the countryside of Aleppo, as Russia-backed Syrian troops continued their progress in the province.
“ISIS is now effectively outside of Aleppo province after having a presence there for four years,” the monitoring group reported.
Pro-Assad forces had been advancing on a sliver of southeastern Aleppo province around a strategic highway linking Hama province to the southwest and Raqqa province to the east.
Regime troops took control of the highway on Thursday night, forcing the remaining ISIS militants to flee, according to the Syrian observatory.
A Syrian military source confirmed the news to the AFP. “The military operation is ongoing and ISIS withdrew from the Aleppan countryside towards rural territory in Hama and Raqqa,” the source said.
“The Syrian army is clearing out the last few meters,” the source added.