DAMASCUS, SYRIA (00:55 A.M.) – The Islamic State could easily lose control of its last stronghold in Aleppo province in the days to come after the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) liberated an additional two villages south of Deir Hafer city on Monday.

Pushing eastwards along the northern bank of the Jabbul Lake, the SAA’s seasoned Tiger Forces alongside Al-Baqir tribesmen managed to impose full control over Al-Qusayr and shortly after, the neighboring village of Jinni As-Salameh.

Effectively, Deir Hafer is surrounded from three flanks amidst a pincer manuever masterminded by Colonel Suheil Al-Hassan, commander-in-chief of the Tiger Forces.

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Nevertheless, a six-kilometer wide Islamic State corridor southeast of the jihadist bastion still enables ISIS militants to flee towards Raqqa along the M4-Highway.

The looming urban battle for Deir Hafer could be avoided if ISIS chooses to retreat, similar to recent events at Palmyra, instead of fighting to the last man.

Should the SAA liberate Deir Hafer, this advance would pave the way for a government offensive plunging into Raqqa province, considered Islamic State heartland.

HD map here.

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Student currently living in Denmark. Special focus on news from Syria, MENA map-making and strategical military analysis.

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