Jihadists and rebels turn tables in Aleppo, reversing Syrian regime gains

by WorldTribune Staff, August 7, 2016

An alliance of anti-Assad rebels and jihadist groups dealt a major setback to the Russian-backed Syrian regime on Aug. 5 by breaking a three-week siege on Aleppo.

Despite more than 600 Russian airstrikes, the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad “were not able to hold on to their positions,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Syrian opposition fighters drive a tank on the southern outskirts of Aleppo. /AFP
Syrian opposition fighters drive a tank on the outskirts of Aleppo. /AFP

In reversing Syrian regime gains, the rebel alliance (or Army of Conquest) opened a new route into Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods, home to an estimated 250,000 people.

Rebel and regime forces had fought for control of Aleppo since mid-2012.

The Observatory said the alliance’s breakthrough “was met with euphoric scenes among civilians and opposition fighters in eastern districts” and was “one of the most significant setbacks for government forces since the conflict erupted in March 2011.”

“Days ago, I was only thinking about how to get a bite to eat,” said Ahmad Adna, a 46-year-old resident of eastern Aleppo. “Now I’m more optimistic after the Army of Conquest’s advance. I hope today will be the last day of the siege.”

Meanwhile, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Aug. 5 claimed a major victory over Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in the town of Manbij.

The SDF, with air support from the U.S.-led coalition, “took control of Manbij… and are combing the city in search of the last remaining jihadists,” the Observatory said.

The town had served as a key transit point along ISIL’s supply route from the Turkish border to its de facto capital in Raqqa.