Opposition forces in Aleppo have been dealt a major blow after their latest offensive to break the siege on the city ground to a halt in early November. After the second phase of the offensive on November 3rd failed to achieve any major gains, government forces regrouped and reinforced their frontline units and began to retake ground lost in previous rebel operations.
Beginning on November 6th, Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah regiments began moving on several strategic hills south of the city (Tell Mutah, Tell Rakhm, and Tell Bazo). These hills, which provide high ground overlooking nearby positions, were captured after heavy fighting1 and the rebel positions in the 1070 Apartment Projects and Hikmah vicinity were threatened2. After some skirmishes, opposition forces in these areas retreated and abandoned their positions, yielding control to the government3.
After the fall of 1070 and Hikmah, fighting restarted on the outskirts of Minyan and Dhahiyet al-Assad, suburbs previously captured by the rebel coalition. The SAA launched a major attack on Jabhet Fatah al-Shaam (JFS) brigades on the Minyan frontline4 and, after continuous fighting, captured the neighborhood5. Fighting continued into the industrial district, with constant skirmishes, but the focus of the government counter-offensive shifted to the suburb of Dhahiyet al-Assad, which had been captured in the initial rebel offensive6.
Fierce fighting erupted within Dhahiyet al-Assad, with resistance by JFS and other rebel units stiff7. Despite the resistance, which reportedly cost the SAA significant casualties, the opposition forces were forced to retreat from occupied territory. Reports initially filtered through8 from armed militia groups, and for some time the status of the suburb remained contested. However, media eventually began to unveil the truth, and photos from the recaptured neighborhood capped the rebel defeat9. No attempt at counteroffensive was made, as losses in JFS ranks were heavy and artillery shelling prevented any immediate mobilization10.
With the loss of 1070 and Hikmah town as well as Dhahiyet al-Assad, the opposition coalition has lost every location gained in both offensives since August. Despite fierce resistance, JFS has lost hundreds of fighters and is now farther from breaking the siege of Aleppo city than ever before. It is not known whether or not the opposition will attempt another offensive.