This afternoon, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies in Eastern Aleppo managed to capture the village of Shuwaylik. This offensive comes on top of a string of regional SAA advances, with the latest at Nasr Allah and Aqulat, which has left ISIS militants on their heels. Government troops have entered Tall al-Ahmar and Humaymah al-Kabirah. The latter is less than 4 kilometers from the major ISIS stronghold of Deir Hafer.
Since the government lifted the siege on Kuweiris Airbase on the 10th of November this year, ISIS has been able to launch counter-offensives on certain villages; notably Jabboul, Umm al-Mara, Halabiyah and Dakwanah. The latter 3 were succesfully recaptured; however, Tiger Forces (SAA elite soldiers) have kept pushing forward across the spectrum causing major frustration with local Islamic State commanders, who helplessly watch as the SAA inches closer to Deir Hafer and ar-Raqqah.
The current overall goal of the Syrian Arab Army’s offensive in Eastern Aleppo remains unclear. Nevertheless, the capture of Deir Hafer, easing the pressure on Aleppo city and possibly even advancing as far as the Euphrates river all appear as realistic plans. If the government was able to do so, ISIS fighters would have their last border-crossing with Turkey cut off.