BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:50 A.M.) – On Friday, the Syrian Arab Amy, supported by allied paramilitary groups and Russian airpower, kicked-off the second phase of its southwestern Aleppo offensive, striking at rebel forces affiliated to Al-Qaeda across the Al-Hass plateau to the north of Khanasser.

The opening of a new offensive axis via the Al-Hass plateau represents a major expansion of the general strategic operation to clear all militant groups from Aleppo’s southern countryside and link up with Syrian troops in eastern Idlib near the Abu Duhur airbase.

Friday’s assault saw Syrian army-led forces seize 18 towns and villages from jihadist fighters, some of which were contested before being taken whilst others were already abandoned and simply swept through.

In recent hours, the Syrian Ministry of Defence has released footage showing the operation by pro-government forces that led to the capture of eighteen towns and villages in the southwestern countryside of Aleppo province from Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.

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