BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:00 P.M.) – Following the capture of Al-Khafsah town earlier in the day, the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) swept through a large ISIS enclave near the Euphrates River in the eastern Aleppo countryside on Tuesday.
After a massive last-minute ISIS withdrawal due to an exposed salient, the SAA’s Tiger Forces were able to capture 23 villages in just a few hours, namely: Abu Khattar, Rabbayah, Mazra’ah, Kharijis, Jannat as Salamah, Jannat as Saghir, Tall Abu Jadhah, Ash Sheikh Abyad, Khan al-Humr, Tall al-Aswad, Shu’ayb Hamr, Shihah, Dukhayrah, Ma’radah, Khirbat Shihab, Arb’a Kabeera, Ra’as Al-Ain, Balloura, Al-Na’eem, Asheni, Al-Tayara, Atejah, and Khafyah Sharqiyah.
According to Al-Masdar News field correspondent Ibrahim Joudeh, ISIS militants were overwhelmed by the unprecedented SAA advances and thus were not in time to booby trap the area as the terror group usually does prior to retreating.
Since the Tiger Forces began their large-scale eastern Aleppo offensive on January 17th, the SAA has wrestled control of some 145 villages and reduced the self-proclaimed caliphate’s territory by over 1000 square kilometers.
ISIS has now set up a last-ditch defensive line along axis between Deir Hafer and Jirah Airbase. The area is manned by militants that retreated from Al-Bab two weeks ago and jihadist units regrouping from the abandoned pocket.
Should the SAA smash through the Islamic State’s final line of defense in Aleppo, Syrian government troops are expected to restart their offensive towards Raqqa.