Some 500 members of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian al-Qaeda branch) and its allies from the Jaish al-Fatah operation room have been killed in recent clashes with the Syrian government forces in the western part and the western countryside of Aleppo city, according to pro-government sources. Pro-militants sources sargue that the “opposition” has lost only about 200 fighters.
The casualties were suffered by the militants during the recent clashes in the areas of Minyan, al-Assad and Hikma in western Aleppo that resulted in their liberaion by the Syrian army and its allies.
Now, local sources indicate, the pro-government forces area preparing to launch offensive operations on multiple fronts inside and outside Aleppo city.
According to pro-government media outlets, the militant-controlled town of Khan Tuman will become the main target of these operations and Hezbolalh will play a crucial role in them. However, these reports have to be confirmed, at least, by movements on the ground.
Till then, the government forces have 4 main options to choose in the Aleppo countryside:
- Controlling the al-Assad Neighborhood and the Al-Batikh Hill (Tell al-Batikh), the army and its allies are able to strike Jabhat Fatah al-Sham in the area of Aqrab and to deploy in a striking distance from the al-Rashidin 4 area. If the government forces are able to achieve success in this direction, they will take contol of an important roundabout in western Aleppo and divide militants deployed in the city’s southwestern and northwestern countryside.
- Using the positions at Tell Mutah, Tell Ohod and Tell Bazo, the government forces are able to launch an attack and to seize the Qensarin Hill and to set a fire control over the southern part of al-Rashidin 5. The control of this hill will allow to divide Jaish al-Fatah forces deployed along the Khan Tuman-Aleppo highway and in the areas of Rashidin 5 and Rashidin 6. Then, the army and its allies will be in a good position to advance on al-Rashidin 5.
- The army, Hezbollah and others can launch a direct offensive in the direction of Khan Tuman. This option is widely promoted in pro-government media.
- The Syrian military can focus on the northwestern countryside of Aleppo and storm the Military Researc Center and Mansoura. This will allow to expand the buffer zone near new Aleppo and prevent possible militant attacks from this direction.