On February 1 afternoon, al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies launched a large-scale attack on Aleppo’s city center.
The ongoing attack is targeting the district of al-Zahraa in the northwestern part of Aleppo city. Thousands of militants are reportedly taking part in the offensive.
Initially, militants attacked SAA positions with several suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs). Pro-government sources said that three or even four SVBIEDs were used, while HTS claimed that only two suicide attacks were carried out.
Iba’a, HTS’ news network, released a video showing the terrorist group’s leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani meeting some of his Inghimasi [Arabic term for gunmen who are ready to fight until death] minutes before the battle. The prominent terrorist is reportedly leading the offensive in person.
Opposition sources claimed that militants penetrated the SAA’s defense in the district, capturing several key positions. However, HTS has not confirmed any of these claims, thus far.
The SAA artillery is now conducting intense strikes on al-Zahara’s outskirt. Syrian and Russian warplanes are also targeting the region, where the militants are attempting to advance.
More than 3 million civilians are living in Aleppo city. If HTS and its allies reach the city’s center, the lives of these civilians, especially government supporters as well as ethnic and religious minorities, will be in a grave threat.