It took 34 days (October 8th) for the Syrian Arab Army’s “Cheetah Forces Team 6” to lift the 35 month long siege of the Kuweires Military Airport after several failed attempts to advance along this rugged front in the Aleppo Governorate’s eastern countryside.
The liberation of the Kuweries Military Airport may have taken one month to complete; however, the battle itself began in September of 2013, when the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division recaptured the strategic city of Al-Safira that is situated along the imperative Khanasser-Aleppo Highway.
Following the capture of Al-Safira, the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division launched their famous offensive “Operation Northern Storm” in order to recapture large parts of the provincial capital and its surroundings from the Islamist rebels that nearly controlled the entire province.
For several months, the Syrian Armed Forces and the Islamist rebels fought for the east Aleppo corridor that links the Sheikh Najjar Industrial District to the southwestern border of the Deir Hafer Plains.
Finally, in the summer of 2014, the Syrian Armed Forces were able to capture the 3rd Sector of the Sheikh Najjar Industrial District, paving the way for their future assault on the northern Aleppo countryside.
However, the Syrian Armed Forces were still nowhere near the Kuweires Military Airport in July of 2014 and now, they had a much bigger issue than they could have possibly imagined: the imminent threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS).
The Rise of ISIS:
ISIS hit Syria like a cyclone, capturing large swathes of territory from the Islamist rebels that they once called their allies in northern and eastern Syria – by July 2014, the terrorist group controlled the provincial capital of the Al-Raqqa Governorate, the entire eastern countryside of the Deir Ezzor Governorate, large parts of the Al-Hasakah Governorate, and the entire eastern countryside of the Aleppo Governorate.
One month later, ISIS began their large-scale operations against the Syrian Arab Army, seizing the last remaining military installations inside the Al-Raqqa Governorate (Division 17, Brigade 93, and Tabaqa Airbase) and killing every soldier in their path.
With ISIS in full control of east Aleppo and west Al-Raqqa; it was time to attack the last Syrian Army military installation in the Deir Hafer Plains: the Kuweires Military Airport.
ISIS Offensive (December 2014-November 2015):
The Islamist rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Liwaa Al-Tawheed, and the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” began the offensive at the Kuweries Military Airport in December of 2012, but it was ISIS who championed this cause after kicking out the aforementioned factions.
Day-after-day for two weeks, ISIS would terrorize the soldiers at the Kuweries Military Airport, attempting to break-through their defenses at three different flanks (south, east, and west).
Despite the odds being in favor ISIS, the Syrian Arab Army persevered and beat back the terrorist group’s encroaching fighters until they finally called it quits by January of 2015.
No heat and inconsistent electricity, the Syrian Arab Army soldiers inside the Kuweries Military Airport did not only have to deal with the threat of besiegement, but also, the frigid weather conditions that made the battle even more miserable for them.
As the winter months faded away, ISIS would shift their attention to this front, launching 4 offensives from April to September and almost breaking into the Kuweires Military Airport in July of this year.
Syrian Army Lifts the Siege:
On October 8th, the Cheetah Forces – backed by the National Defense Forces (NDF) and the Al-Ba’ath Battalions – launched a large-scale offensive in the Deir Hafer Plains after spending several weeks harassing ISIS at this front.
In a matter of three weeks, the Syrian Armed Forces fought their way to the strategic town of Sheikh Ahmad, where they would fight their most important battle against the terrorist group.
For two weeks, the Syrian Armed Forces and ISIS traded blows at the town of Sheikh Ahmad; however, the turning point came when the Cheetah Forces captured the strategic railway barrier that leads to the northern district.
Finally on Monday, November 9th, the Cheetah Forces imposed full control over the town of Sheikh Ahmad, paving the way for one final assault to liberate the 314 soldiers trapped at the Kuweires Military Airport.
The final assault began during the wee hours on Tuesday morning as a whole platoon of soldiers stormed ISIS’ final line of defense at the Kuweires Sharqi, overrunning the aforementioned terrorist group’s positions before imposing full control over this area and the barriers surrounding the Kuweires Military Airport.
The Syrian Armed Forces liberated the Kuweries Airport and the 314 soldiers inside by the early afternoon on Tuesday, ending this 35 month long saga and forever enshrining these heroic soldiers in Syrian history.
The Brave 314:
The heroic soldiers that protected the Kuweires Military Airport demonstrated great zeal in the face of overwhelming odds – where others failed, they thrived and overcame countless attacks from almost every terrorist group that is active in Syria.
According to a military source from the Tiger Forces, most of the 314 soldiers had some-sort of illness or wound.
The source also added that due to the scarcity of supplies, most of the soldiers only ate once every two days for 35 months.
While their story will not be crystalized forever in an Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, the Syrian soldiers that defeated ISIS at the Kuweries Military Airport have achieved the greatest gift: life.