Syria Comment: The Syrian Army has gone on the offensive, retaking a key town – al-Sfireh – on the south-east of Aleppo. On Monday, the town of Tal Aran, on the Safira-Aleppo road, also fell. The army then secured the area around the city’s airport and retook a strategically important base nearby, named Base 80, a large military position which rebels had held since February. Analysts claim that the base will help regime troops move on opposition-held areas of Aleppo.
The response of rebel militas was immediate. A statement by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) urged “all brigades and Muslims to face off against the enemy.” Liwa al-Tawhid urged people in Aleppo to “face up to regime attacks” and called for a mass mobilisation in Aleppo to halt a government advance. They claimed that government forces backed by fighters from the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and members of Abu al-Fadl Abbas, an Iraqi Shia militia, had launched a “fierce offensive to reoccupy” Aleppo.
Within a few days, The Syrian Army killed a number of the leaders of Aleppo’s largest militia – Liwaa al-Tawhid. Its top leaders, Abd al-Qader al-Saleh & Abd Aziz Salehmeh were both injured, but are in good condition. The unit commander Youssef al-Abbas was killed. The regime bombed a meeting of Liwaa al-Tawhid leaders, suggesting it has improved its intelligence operations. Liwaa la-Tawhid has about 25-30 unit commanders joined at the top by Saleh/Salame, the majority stationed in the Aleppo region. [Continue reading…]