The situation in Syria’s largest city of Aleppo has taken a dramatic turn as government troops and rebel forces managed to seize each other’s supply route, all within two weeks.
These supply lines have otherwise been in place since 2013.
Aleppo has been dubbed ‘the mother of all battles’ with good reason – some 5,000 to 12,000 fighters were lined up by Jaish al-Fateh and Fatah Halab for the southwestern Aleppo offensive, completely overwhelming the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) manpower.
Although Islamist factions have definitively broken through the SAA’s defensive line in southwestern Aleppo, they are yet to secure a road safe enough for them to reach insurgents in eastern Aleppo.
However, it is indeed possible for Islamist rebels to sneak into eastern Aleppo districts through tunnels and makeshift doorways in the Ramouseh district which is entirely under Jaish al-Fateh and Fatah Halab control.
Meanwhile, the SAA has established a supply road along the Castello-Bani Zaid axis in northern Aleppo. Supply trucks are now able to get through; however, the supply line itself remains dangerously narrow.
While in urgent need of widening its own northern supply line, SAA commanders in Aleppo must also prioritize recapturing lost areas in southwestern Aleppo which would effectively besiege Aleppo’s rebel forces once more.
For Islamist factions, the battle for Aleppo represents an important buffer-zone for Idlib province. If the SAA was to capture Aleppo entirely, this would lead to an inevitable government offensive westwards through the Jaish al-Fateh mainland.