Early this morning, the Syrian Arab Army – spearheaded by elite Tiger Forces – captured the village of Qatar in the countryside of Aleppo after a brief firefight. Just hours later, Tiger Forces rushed south and captured the village of Tall Al-Hattabat which left more than a dozen ISIS militants dead while their Islamist comrades quickly retreated from the area.
Over the past months, government troops have captured close to 50 villages from ISIS during their eastern Aleppo offensive which initially freed som 314 soldiers that had been entirely besieged by Islamist forces for 35 months. Furthermore, Kurdish fighters further east have also advanced on the Islamic State, thus capturing the town of Tishreen and closing in on the ISIS stronghold of Manbij.
Today’s government advance near Kuweiris Airbase represents a strategical shift; formerly, the Syrian Army had attempted to advance towards the highly fortified cities of Deir Hafer and Al-Bab. However, for now it seems that General Suheil al-Hassan – commander-in-chief of local Tiger Forces – is attempting to close the ISIS bulge between Kuweiris Airbase (Rasin el-Aboud) and Aleppo city which has consistently harassed the narrow government supply line that leads from the provincial capital to Kuweiris Airbase.
Furthermore, if government troops are able to secure a strong buffer zone around Kuweiris Airbase, one cannot rule out the possibility that the Russian Airforce would deploy jets to this airfield as to more easily strike ISIS militants in ar-Raqqah and Aleppo countryside.