The battle for Aleppo is reaching its critical stages as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continues its offensive to recapture parts of the provincial capital that are under the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), Islamic Front (Jabhat Al-Islamiyya) and Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat Al-Nusra). A year and a half ago, many thought the SAA would not be able to hold the city long enough to see Winter 2013 after their withdrawal from the Mennagh Airbase last August; however, following the SAA’s success in the Homs Governorate, much needed reinforcements would pour into the province to begin “Operation Northern Storm”.
Recent Rebel Gains and Attacks:
• Nubl and Al-Zahra: Jabhat Al-Nusra is attacking the Syrian Arab Army, National Defense Forces, and Hezbollah at the villages of Nubl and Al-Zahra. They have withdrawn from the southern front of these villages, but they are still attacking the eastern sector of Nubl.
• Ashrafiyyeh: The Islamic Front launched an attack on the Ashrafiyyeh Quarter, bombarding SAA positions near the fuel depository. They continue to attack, but have yet to breach the SAA’s frontline defenses.
• Marjah: The Islamic Front was able to retake approximately 3 building blocks the SAA controlled last week; as a result, they are now in control of the whole quarter.
Syrian Arab Army and National Defense Forces Gains and Attacks:
• Al-Amariyya: The National Defense Forces are carrying out the offensive in this southern Aleppo district, as they attack Islamic Front positions from the southwest. So far, they have been successful in capturing the farms near the Sheikh Sa’eed District, but they have not been able to breach the Islamic Front’s northern flank. Keep an eye on this battle over the coming weeks; it is bound to intensify.
• Handarat: The Syrian Arab Army has captured most of the Handarat District, but some industrial plants on the outskirts still remain in the Islamic Front’s possession, including the area north of Camp Handarat. Hezbollah is assisting the SAA in this battle, but the rugged terrain on the outskirts of this district makes it difficult to advance.
• Hanano: Months after the SAA’s capture of the Sheikh Najar Industrial District, the latter has finally made significant gains in this area. Recently, the SAA captured an imperative road leading to the Hanano Youth Camp near the village of Breijj. The SAA’s success in Hanano is contingent on their advancement to the Hanano Youth Camp; if the SAA captures it – it could be a decisive blow to the Islamic Front.
• Al-‘Oweeja: As of Tuesday, November 26, 2014, the SAA is in control of 80% of this district, with only a small parcel of territory under the Islamic Front’s control.