The city of Deir Hafer in the Aleppo Governorate’s eastern Aleppo has long been a stronghold for the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS); however, as of recently, the city has been under its greatest threat since the aforementioned terrorist group first seized it in late 2013.
Two months ago, the thought of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) threatening ISIS at Deir Hafer would have been brushed off for being illogical and unrealistic; but, this all changed in late September when the Russian Air Force began their aerial campaign to forestall the Islamist groups advancing in Syria.
Fast forward two months later, the Syrian Arab Army’s elite special operations division known as the “Tiger Forces” is now within 5km from the western district of Deir Hafer, leaving ISIS in a vulnerable position with very little reserves to combat the advancing enemy army.
Adding to ISIS’ plight in east Aleppo is the recent arrival of fresh reinforcements from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah, and Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi paramilitary) that are going to give the Syrian Arab Army the necessary boost they need to advance on Deir Hafer.
On Saturday morning, the Tiger Forces announced the capture of the ‘Aqulah after a brief firefight with the ISIS militants protecting this village to the south of the Kuweires Military Airport.
As a result of the loss of ‘Aqulah, ISIS’ is facing a serious threat at the strategic hilltop village of Tal Al-Ahmar, which is another gateway to Deir Hafer front as it sits on the seasonal road leading to the aforementioned city.
Since losing the Kuweires Military Airport earlier this month, ISIS’ defenses have been falling apart all over the Aleppo Governorate’s eastern countryside; this has paved the way for the Tiger Forces and their allies to advance into areas that were once considered untouchable.
If Deir Hafer is captured by the Tiger Forces, the Syrian Armed Forces will be in position to reenter the Al-Raqqa Governorate after being expelled by ISIS in August 2014.