DAMASCUS, SYRIA (0:10 P.M.) – While the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) liberated two villages in eastern Aleppo on Tuesday afternoon, ISIS militants launched a surprise counter-offensive on a nearby flank yesterday evening, targeting the two government-held villages of Qutbiyah and Umm Arkilah in a bid to reach the famed Kuweiris Airbase.
Despite ISIS fighters overrunning parts of Qutbiyah for an hour or so, government reinforcements from the nearby airport rushed to support entrenched SAA units and subsequently thwarted the Islamic State attack, killing many jihadist combatants in the process and forcing others to withdraw to rearguard positions near Deir Hafer.
Nevertheless, Amaq Agency claimed 29 SAA soldiers were killed during the jihadist counter-offensive. The Islamic State outlet also posted a video covering the attack:
— Chris Tomson (@TheDaneChris) March 15, 2017
Later, state media released a video showing scores of dead ISIS militants scattered across the battlefield in the aftermath of the Islamic State counter-offensive.
من تصدي الجيش السوري لهجوم إرهابيي داعش على اتجاه قريتي : القطبية – أم أركيلة في محيط الكلية الجوية بريف حلب الشرقي pic.twitter.com/HXor16PJSc
— Syrian Reporters (@SyrianReporters) March 15, 2017
The SAA’s Tiger Forces are just two kilometers from Deir Hafer, the last ISIS stronghold in Aleppo; nevertheless, they face a considerable number of jihadist belligerents and a seemingly impregnable defensive line along the axis between Deir Hafer and Jirah Airbase.