Moments ago in the Aleppo Governorate’s southern countryside, the Syrian Arab Army’s 43rd and 154th Brigades of the elite 4th Mechanized Division – in coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF), Kataebat Al-Ba’ath (Al-Ba’ath Battalions), and the Palestinian pro-government milita “Liwaa Al-Quds” (Jerusalem Brigade) – launched a large-scale military operation at the strategic town of Al-Rashiddeen after halting operations there in early December.

According to a senior officer from the 4th Mechanized Division in the Aleppo Governorate, the Syrian Armed Forces are currently attacking the 4th and 5th Precincts of Al-Rashiddeen, where they are attempting to force out the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Liwaa Suqour Al-Sham, and Harakat Nourideen Al-Zinki from the town’s parameters.

If Al-Rashiddeen is captured by the Syrian Armed Forces, they will have effectively positioned themselves for the long-awaited assault on the town of Khan Al-Assal.

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Khan Al-Assal was captured by the Islamist rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Liwaa Al-Tawheed in late 2013; they would summarily execute over 30 unarmed Syrian Arab Army soldiers after seizing the town.

The purpose of recapturing Khan Al-Assal is to  sweep to the western countryside of the provincial capital; this entire area (predominately Mount Simeon) is controlled by the Islamist rebels.

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