Will the last bastion of the Free Syrian Army fall into the Islamic State’s hands? Since the 8th of October evening, the FSA is facing a strong attack from the Islamic State’s fighters and shelling from the Russian air force.
The quick and sudden fall of multiple villages in Aleppo’s northern countryside, as well as the Infantry military School quarter, to Islamic State, has caused both widespread confusion and questioning among field activists and observers of the city’s military situation.
Map by Emmanuel PÈNE – Cartographer
Meanwhile others ensured that the logistical support of the regime’s artillery and military would back ISIS troops due to their unprecedented progress.
Due to the offensive launched the 8th of October, significant parts of Aleppo are now held by ISIS. Indeed the Russian bombardment on several Syrian positions has intensified, most notably on the Infantry military School. This school is a very important symbol to the armed Syrian opposition as it was named the ‘Yous of Al-Jader’. It was here that engineers coordinated the attack in the summer of 2012 when the military uprising against the regime began.
Village such as Fafen, Tal-Qrah, Tal-Sosen as well as the open market area and juvenile prison, all protected and defended in the last few months, fell both quickly and dramatically. Their fall has brought back the ghost of the siege to the opposition’s held territories. This, at a time when the relations between the opposition and Kurdish troops are facing major military stress, has led to a call for the most prominent of the oppositions’ military forces (Open Aleppo Operation Room) to launch a counter-offensive to take control of Sheik Maksoud district. This is where Kurdish troops are positioned with heavy machine guns and snipers to target the only available road to the city: the Kastello road.
The opposition forces are now in a very unenviable position as air strikes have begun targeting Aleppo’s countryside, an opposition stronghold. At the same time Russian statements officially state that the air strikes are to back the Syrian army in their operations against what the regime has globally labeled a terrorist insurgency.
Returning to the 8th of October night’s battle, information from field activists has led to the widespread accusation that Russian aviation is intervening in favour of the Islamic State in order to secure their air cover.
Several fronts open in Aleppo the 9th of October; and the opposition is facing crucial challenges in maintaining the military points in the city and the surrounding countryside either to prove itself and regain the lead or lose Aleppo, the most important and strategic city in northern Syria.
The coming days will be decisive for either side.