BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:00 P.M.) – Almost one week after sealing the section of highway between Rusafa and Ethriyah and completely encircling the ISIS bastion at Khanasser, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has almost completed the operation to clear all of southeast Aleppo Governonate from the Islamic State.
Yesterday, the SAA officially liberated another string of villages within the Khanasser pocket; these were the settlements of Partridge, Duraib al-Wawi, Khirbet al-Wawahi, Sabkha al-Marajah, Hameed, Wadi al-Habbari, Ja’ar, al-Houbara and Wadi al-Gharrah.
Preliminary reports released by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) several days ago claimed that “regime” forces had cleared the Khanasser region as soon as they completed the linking of the Ethriyah-Rusafa road, saying that ISIS had fully withdrawn from the area.
In the event, this was not the case, as ISIS – although withdrawing the bulk of its forces – had left behind improvised explosive devices (IED) and suicide bombing troops throughout the various settlements which litter the Khanasser region.
It has only been in the last few days that the SAA – led by the Aleppo-based 30th Division of the Republican Guard – commenced an operation to clear encircled ISIS remnants in the Khanasser area.
Regarding the liberation of the entire Khanasser region from ISIS, only a handful of villages now remain to be cleared, although some sources are saying that terrorist group has absolutely no presence in these last settlements, with perhaps the exception of IEDs.
There is a high chance that these final settlements will brought under SAA control within the next 24 hours and, as a result of this, the entire Aleppo Governonate will officially have been liberated from ISIS forces.