A few hours ago, combined rebel forces of the Free Syrian Army, Fatah coalition (Islamist rebel groups) and Jabhat al-Nusra (Syrian al-Qaeda group) captured al-Rai town in northern Aleppo from ISIS troops. Thus, Islamist rebels have now captured more than a dozen villages in less than a week along the Turkish border.
Today’s battle was reportedly heavily reinforced and aided by Turkish artillery pieces that pounded ISIS positions in and around al-Rai throughout the day. Meanwhile, other reports indicate that ISIS fighters have been gradually withdrawing their forces from the region, as to reinforce other vulnerable frontlines.
In fact, these advances come despite rebels in northern Aleppo being entirely cut off from the rest of rebel-held Syria, thus creating problems in terms of new recruits, logistics and redeployments. However, the rebel offensive has come into effect through Turkish support and ISIS commanders down-prioritizing the area.
Now, rebels will either try to strike further east along the border or strike southwest and carry out a pincer manuever towards the rebel stronghold of Mare’, thereby cutting off many ISIS fighters and expanding the rebel enclave in northern Aleppo.
Map credit to BosnjoBoy.