Aleppo: SAA continues to make significant advances as opposition defences crumble
Armed forces of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and allied groups have continued to make unprecedented advances in the urban areas of Eastern Aleppo, as the defenses of Fatah Halab and Jabhet Fatah al-Shaam (JFS) collapse. After seizing the entirety of the northern sector of the city and repelling the second Islamist offensive in the west, the SAA has aggressively attacked and seized significant swathes of the city in recent days.
After a brief period of stable frontlines marked by heavy shelling and airstrikes, the SAA began advancing again as they captured sections of Masraniyah Youth Housing, south of Hay Hanano, on November 30th1. Resistance initially was fierce, but rebel elements gave way under heavy airstrikes. Militants retreated from Masraniyah and delineated new battle lines as the SAA prepared to attack again2. However, despite digging in, Fatah Halab units were forced to retreat again as the army secured Masraniyah fully on December 2nd and advanced in Ein and Hanano neighborhoods3. Further advances put pressure on the rebel pocket and prepared the SAA for a set of major gains in the following couple of days4.
Beginning late in the day on December 2nd, SAA Tiger Forces assisted by artillery shelling advanced on the al-Nayrab axis and secured several blocks near the airport. On December 3rd, a major SAA offensive from multiple fronts resulted in control of Karam al-Tarab, Karam al-Jazmati, and the last blocks of Ramouseh6. Attacks on Sheikh Saeed and Sheikh Lufti were repulsed by determined defenders7, and an L-39 Aero Albatross bomber aircraft was shot down by rebel fire8, but the momentum of the SAA would not be halted.
The next day saw SAA and Liwa al-Quds units attempt to advance on multiple fronts. An assault on Bustan al-Qasr was repelled quickly9, but rebel fighters on other fronts collapsed under heavy fire, and Hay al-Myassar was the next district to fall10. Fighting continued into the night and early morning of December 5th, with Hay Sha’ar11 and the areas of Karam Qaterji and the National Hospital district captured by the SAA12. By dawn, the SAA had established full control over Karam Qaterji and several major landmarks, and were close to splitting the rebel pocket into two partitions once more13.
With each progressive day, the rebel pocket in urban Aleppo shrinks more and more and a government victory appears to be more certain than ever. Fatah Halab has lost over 60% of their pocket, and will likely retreat from the area around the Aleppo Citadel as their positions there are threatened. Although they may have a chance at holding their ground, the odds of success grow dimmer every day as the SAA and allies rack up victories.