–We were heading for Aleppo and have been here for four days, says Abdalla Yunis, a driver. We’re waiting for the road to be reopened. Daesh cut it.
–What are you carrying?
–Humanitarian aid. The food-carrying trucks turned around and went back. We have non-perishables: household goods, blankets, tents.
There is no reason to doubt him, the cargo is plainly visible through the gaps in the truck canopy, and the windshields are marked with a red cross and a red crescent.
Dozens of people are sitting in the desert on rolled-out blankets. Several passenger buses heading for Aleppo from Damascus are also stuck here.
–We’ve been living here, in the desert, for four days, says Abu Mukhomad. We sleep on the buses or on the ground.
The Syrian soldiers told us that Hanasser itself was retaken. The militants realized they won’t be able to hold it for long and mined the road along the entire length of their control. Right now ISIS still has control of four villages along the road and in the nearby desert, and fires on the road. The objective of this operation is self-evident–to stop the offensive on “ISIS capital” Raqqa at any cost. So far they are succeeding.