Aleppo: united opposition forces launch a new offensive to break the siege

On the morning of October 28th, the united rebel forces of Jaish al-Fateh (JaF) and Jabhat Fateh al-Shaam (JFS) launched a new offensive to break the government siege of rebel-held Eastern Aleppo. After significant bombardment1 caused heavy civilian casualties, the unified rebel forces announced the beginning of their new assault through social media2. Initial rebel media releases3 showed artillery shelling and the preparation of suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs); after a couple of hours of heavy shelling, the real attack began.

The assault initially targeted the southwest and western axes of the city, with operations being directed at Minyan industrial area4, Dhahiyet al-Assad and al-Zahraa neighborhoods5, and the 1070 Apartment Projects6. Spearheading the attack with SVBIEDs and heavy tank shelling, the rebel forces quickly forced the SAA to retreat from their positions in Dhahiyet al-Assad and the 1070 Projects, both of which were confirmed captured within hours7. Through the night, SAA forces also slowly withdrew from positions in Minyan, returning shellfire the entire time.

On the 29th, rebel forces attempted another assault on the Zahraa axis, but were repulsed8. Fighting continued throughout the day with little gains by either side; rebel attacks on the 3000 Apartment Projects and Zahraa district were repelled again, and an attempt by the SAA to retake 1070 failed despite airstrikes. Rebel media outlets started putting out video9 releases of combat and pre-offensive footage10, and released updated maps on offensive progress, but no new gains were made on the 30th either. The offensive came to a halt as shelling subsided temporarily and both sides counted their dead and injured. The SAA later attempted to recapture Minyan and its factory district, but this push was met with failure. A counterattack11 by JFS special forces met a similar fate on the night of the 30th. Civilian casualties in Western Aleppo due to shelling have been heavy12.

The offensive is expected to regain steam and restart within a couple of days. At the time of publication, JFS and other rebel forces are reinforcing and resupplying regiments on the front line, and preparing new SVBIEDs for the next round of fighting. The overall goal is, as before, the breaking of the siege of the eastern part of Aleppo city, which has been besieged since early September.

JFS map of gains in the latest Aleppo offensive, October 29th.
JFS map of gains in the latest Aleppo offensive, October 29th.
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