Over the past few days, ISIS’ defensive line in southeastern Aleppo has completely collapsed as government troops keep pushing towards Islamic State heartland in ar-Raqqah province. Earlier today, the Syrian Arab Army’s 555th Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division captured the villages of al-Hayat, al-‘Aala, and Al-Kabeerah from ISIS forces east of the strategic town of Khanasser.
Just two weeks ago, ISIS cut the Aleppo supply line and temporarily captured Khanasser from the Syrian Arab Army. However, militants loyal to the Islamic State were since repelled and suffered heavy casualties in the process largely due to the Russian Airforce and redeployment of elite Tiger Forces. Within days, government troops recaptured the Khanasser-Aleppo road; meanwhile, ISIS forces lost hundreds of their fighters.
Subsequently, the Islamic State now suffers from inadequate manpower in the region. Meanwhile, the 4th Mechanized Division has received reinforcements from elsewhere in the Aleppo governorate. Thus, a mismatch in avaliable soldiers explains why government troops are able to advance in southeastern Aleppo against little to none ISIS resistance.
However, the Islamic State has now set up a new defensive line east of Jabboul Lake. By doing so, ISIS commanders intend to prevent the Syrian Arab Army from capturing Deir Hader, Tabqa Airbase and Jirah Airbase. If the aforementioned sites are lost to the Syrian Government, ISIS will be expelled from northern Syria and will be forced to set up a desperate last stance defence at ar-Raqqah city itself.
Ar-Raqqah is the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State and as such, its loss will prove an intolerable blow to the moral of ISIS fighters across the Middle East.
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