BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:45 P.M.) – When the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) declared the entire rebel-held east Aleppo pocket under their control; it was assumed by many observers of this conflict as the last fight for the provincial capital.
However, this premature assumption could not be further from the truth; especially, given the fact that the jihadist rebels still control the entire Idlib Governorate border with this province.
Taking control of Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods was no doubt an important victory for the Syrian Armed Forces, but it is not the end-all be-all in the battle for the province.
The Syrian Arab Army’s High Command is well-aware of the fact that the jihadist rebels are still relatively strong in rural Aleppo, which makes it difficult to declare absolute victory.
If the jihadist rebels weren’t enough for the Syrian Arab Army, there is always the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) forces that are still lingering around in the eastern countryside of Aleppo.
In fact, it is this presence that has prompted the Syrian Arab Army’s High Command to shift their attention to the Deir Hafer Plains, where the Islamic State’s main line of defense before the Al-Raqqa Governorate is located.
According to a military source in Aleppo, the Syrian Arab Army has continued to build up its forces in east Aleppo, swelling their numbers to just over 6,000 military personnel around the Kuweries Military Airport.
While members of the Republican Guard prepare for their future offensive in Deir Hafer, another unit from the Syrian Arab Army, alongside Hezbollah and Harakat Al-Nujaba, are finalizing their plans for the long-awaited southern Aleppo assault.
It has been approximately 9 months since the Syrian Armed Forces and their allies have launched a large-scale offensive in southern Aleppo; this is due to the previous ceasefire agreements and Jaysh Al-Fateh recapturing the strategic village of Tal Al-‘Eis.
Despite the current ceasefire with the Turkish-backed rebels, the Syrian Armed Forces and their allies are still allowed to launch attacks against jihadist groups, per the guidelines established in the agreement.
With permission from their Russian allies, the Syrian Arab Army will likely resume their wide-scale military operations in the coming weeks, as they take advantage of the Turkish Army’s offensive at nearby Al-Bab.