Moments ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – spearheaded by the Tiger Forces – entered the town Aran which is geographically situated between Al-Bab and Kuweiris (Rasin el Aboud) Airbase. The farms surrounding the town have been captured by the SAA after a brief firefight which lasted less than 2 hours; effectively, ISIS fighters have been forced to retreat further north. Currently, less than 8 kilometers sets the ISIS-held stronghold of Al-Bab apart from advancing government troops.
Lately, Major General Suheil Al-Hassan, commander-in-chief of the Tiger Forces (an elite military branch of the Syrian Arab Army which specializes in offensives) has shifted his attention from Deir Hafer towards al-Bab – in other words, from east to north. This change of focus is believed to have been caused by ISIS fighters at Humaymah al-Kabirah near Deir Hafer offering very stiff resistance and thus, causing heavy casualities upon government troops.
Therefore, Tiger Forces have been redeployed to the more thinly defended northern Kuweiris Airbase flank; once the first ISIS-line of defence collapsed around New Years Eve, local government troops have witnessed much less resistance. During the past week alone, ISIS forces in this area have seen themselves concede a handful of villages to the Syrian Arab Army.
The map below quite clearly depicts recent developments:
Red: Syrian Arab Army (Government)
Green: Jaish al-Fateh (Rebels)
Black: Islamic State (Caliphate)
Yellow: YPG & SDF (Kurdish militias)