The last week saw heavy fighting in the northern outskirts of Aleppo city, as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) elite unit “Tiger Forces”, lead by the infamous Colonel Suheil al-Hassan managed to capture the Mallah farms, west of Handarat camp, thus coming very close to cutting Castillo road, the only supply route left for rebels in Aleppo city. The battle raged on for multiple days with continuous reports of counterattacks, retaking of territory and repelling of offensives. This area is crucial for both sides as it is the most important spot in the overall battle for Aleppo city.
Rebels focussed their efforts on the southern Aleppo countryside in the last months, when we saw the Islamist coalition of Jaish al-Fateh (JaF) reverse some of the gains made by the government in the initial stages of the Russian Intervention, where it appeared that government forces – allegedly an Iranian idea – tried to break through the Aleppo and Idlib countryside to lift the siege on Fuah and Kefraya. They managed to recapture a lot of territory, reaching the key ICARDA military base, where their advance was halted. Since then, the rebels recaptured some key territory – namely Al-Eis and Khan Touman, inciting rumours between SCW observers that they might try to cut gov. held territory in Aleppo city in two to open a new supply route through the Ramouseh district towards rebel held areas in the city. This remains unconfirmed but there are multiple rumours and JaF-linked twitter accounts and stories who indicate that this ambitious plan might contain some truth.
As for the northern Aleppo theater, as said before, the government managed to capture Mallah farms. The rebels however know the importance of this spot and initiated a swift and massive counteroffensive. Two SVBIED were used by the Syrian al-Qaeda branch Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN) in order to break through the government lines. Many other factions, including Faylaq al-Sham, Noureddin al-Zinki movement and various Fatah Halab (FH) aligned groups took part in the offensive. However, the rebels didnt manage to make a breakthrough and reportedly only captured a small strategic hill and nearby areas. This however remains unconfirmed as pro-government outlets and reporters continue to deny that the rebels took back any areas at all.
The following days and weeks are gonna be very important not only for the Aleppo theater, but for the whole war aswell. Aleppo is a key city and its complete capture by either faction is bound to make a significant difference.