By yesterday evening (find the previous situation update here) , the joint militant forces – Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian al-Qaeda branch), Ahrar al-Sham, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki and other militant groups – have captured a major part of the Al-Assad Neighborhood in the western part of Aleppo city. They also have entered the Minyan Neighborhood and pushed the Syrian army to retreat into the norwestern part of the 1070 Apartment Project.
Nonetheless, the militants were not able to develop the intitial success due to a lack of fire power. The total number of militant grouping involved into the operation is about 2,000 fighters with some 20 artillery pieces. Vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) remain their main tool to break the government forces’ defenses (find exclusive SF’s analysis how to counter VBIED attacks here).
Amid intense calshes, the Syrian military deployed reinforcements and the Syrian Army Tiger Forces’ Commander, Major General Suheil “The Tiger” Al Hassan, arrived the city to coordonate military operations against the joint terrorist forces. Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba were set to assist to Al Hassan-led operations.
Separately, Jabhat al-Nusra & its allies had made an attempt to cut off the Ittriyah-Aleppo Higway (the only government supply lin eto Aleppo city) but failed to do this.
Last night, the Syrian army, the National Defense Forces (NDF) and the Desert Hawks Brigade counter-attacked in Minyan and restored the control over the area. The Jabhat Fatah al-Sham-led coalition, also known as Jaish al-Fatah, withdrew into the al-Assad Neighborhood. This allowed the government forces to repell the militants’ attacks on the New Aleppo Neighborhood.
The Al-Salam Square, the New Aleppo Neighborhood is under the government control (the photo has been taken today):
The government forces also made attempts to counter-attack in the Al-Assad Neighborhood and in the 1070 Apartment Project but they were not able to reverse the militants’ gains in the area.
The Free Syrian Army’s Liwa al-Huriya al-Islami commander, Mahmoud Ibrahim, was killed on October 28 during the failed attack on the Family House in western Aleppo:
On October 30, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and its allies declared the end of the first phase of their operation in western Aleppo and confirmed that the al-Assad Neighborhood and a part of the 1070 Apartment Project were the only real gains.
The next phase, according to the statement, will include operation in the 3000 Apartment Project, Hamdaniyah, Saifdawla, Amiriya, the Old Aleppo, Suq Hal, al-Musharqah, al-Itha’a and Salah al-Din. De-facto, the militants started to shell the al-Assad Military Academy between the 3000 Apartment Project and the New Aleppo Neighborhood and detonated a VBIED in the 1070 Apartment Project. This confirms that the militant coalition will continue attempts to break the government forces in the area where the first attack took place on October 28.
There were also reports about a gas attack by militants near the Al-Assad Military Academy in western Aleppo. However, no photo or video evidence were provided.
Jaish Al-Mujahideen (a coalition of islamist units loyal to Jabhat al-Nursa) is shelling the Military Academy area with ‘Elephant’ rockets:
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) October 30, 2016
Then, the Syrian army, Hezbollah and the NDF, supported by Syrian warplanes, made a new push to clear the al-Assad Neighborhood from militants. Clashes have been ongoing in the area.
The militants’ attempt to break the Aleppo siege can be described as failed. The government forces have an upper hand in the ongoing trench warfare in non-populated areas of western Aleppo due to the advantage in air power and artillery.