Last month, the Syrian Arab Army launched an offensive which broke a three-year long rebel siege on two government-held towns in northern Aleppo; namely Nubl and al-Zahraa. Since then, government forces have created a buffer zone in the area while their Kurdish allies have also made significant gains against Islamists in Aleppo governorate.
With this task done, government troops must now focus on cutting the narrow supply line which still brings in goods and ammunitions to insurgent forces inside Aleppo city from either Turkey or the mostly rebel-held province of Idlib. Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters from the isolated Sheikh Maqsoud District have declared war against rebels inside Aleppo city.
Just 2 weeks ago, Kurdish troops entered the Al-Ashrafiyah District and remarkably captured Salhiddeen Mosque. Thus, Kurdish forces inside Aleppo city have sided with the Syrian Government by declaring all-out war on Islamist insurgents. Remarkably, less than two years ago, the Syrian Arab Army and Kurdish militias inside Aleppo city clashed on a regular basis; at this point in time, rebels and Kurds had mutually agreed checkpoints and were largely allied. Now, all ties have been severed between these two factions.
With the loss of Salhiddeen Mosque, the Al-Ashrafiyah Station and many villages in northern Aleppo, rebels inside Aleppo city must now face the emerging reality of a de facto blockade imposed mainly by the Syrian Government and partially by Kurdish militants. This would put rebel fighters under increasing pressure due to food and ammunition shortages which are already rather widespread inside the city.
Sadly, according to many Aleppo residents, the largest city in Syria has become a ‘ghost city’. This is largely due to the massive presence of improvised traps and experienced snipers on both sides. For years, the frontline inside the provincial capital of Aleppo has remained static with neither rebels nor government forces able to advance.
Nevertheless, with government forces pushing forward at each flank of the city, they seem to have grabbed the initiative for now. On the other hand, rebel commanders are unlikely to surrender Aleppo any time soon as its regarded by many as the economic heart of Syria itself due to its many shops, factories and industries.