Earlier today, the 4th Mechanized Division of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – strongly aided by Russian airstrikes, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite paramilitaries – successfully captured the village of Hardatnin and approximately 75% of Rityan village from Islamist rebels of Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Mujahideen and Jabhat Al-Shamiyah. Meanwhile, Hezbollah fighters and government troops from the besieged Shi’ite towns of Nubl & al-Zahraa stormed the outskirts of Bayanoun and managed to gain some ground during this offensive.
Effectively, Islamist rebels have had their Turkish supply line from Azaz to Aleppo city entirely cut off due to government fire control at either flank of their previous route of transport. Currently, less than 4 kilometers prevent SAA troops from reaching the government-held area at Nubl and al-Zahraa towns. Just 48 hours ago, more than 7 kilometers split these two areas apart.
Meanwhile, Islamist insurgents are also engaged in skirmishes with both Kurdish factions and ISIS militants further north – thus, due to thin rebel lines of defense in northern Aleppo, government troops have been able to capture 3 villages over the past 2 days without suffering substantial casualties during the process. However, several government tanks and bulldozers have been destroyed by TOW missiles supplied to rebels from Saudi Arabia.
If the SAA and its allies are able to capture Bayanoun they will consequently end more than 3 years of siege that has held approximately 35,000 predominately Shi’ite civilians at the mercy of helicopters of the Syrian Arab Airforce hauling in supplies. Furthermore, this event would happen less than three months since 314 government soldiers were freed from an ISIS siege at Kuweiris Airbase in eastern Aleppo province.