At least 100 soldiers and fighters were killed in northern Syria in just over 24 hours of fierce fighting earlier this week as pro-government forcesreached an airbase that had long been besieged by IS
At least 100 soldiers and fighters were killed in northern Syria in just over 24 hours of fierce fighting earlier this week as pro-government forcesreached an airbase that had long been besieged by ISIS, a monitoring group said on Thursday.
Most of those killed were ISIS militants, followed by government forces and its allies, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The breaking of the siege was the most high-profile military victory for Syria’s government since Russia intervened in the conflict with an air campaign on September 30.
On Tuesday government troops reached the Kweires airbase in the northern province of Aleppo, where soldiers and officers had been holed up for nearly two years.
Recent offensives by government forces mostly against insurgents not linked to ISISe in the west and northwest of Syria have been backed by Russian airstrikes, as well as Iranian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters. But their progress has been limited at best, with rebels putting up fierce resistance and even advancing in some areas, such as in Hama province where certain areas have come under heavy bombardment.
Meanwhile,Syria’s Army, backed by allied forces and Russian airstrikes, seized a key rebel town south of Aleppo on Thursday, scoring its second major advance in the province this week.
State television announced the capture of Al-Hader, a former opposition bastion near the key Aleppo-Damascus highway, just 48 hours after regime forces broke a siege by the ISIS of the Kweyris air base in the east of Aleppo province.
“Syrian troops and allied forces have full control of Al-Hader,” a military source told AFP of the town, which is around 25 kilometres south of Aleppo city.
The source said troops from Lebanon’s Hezboll-ah movement as well as Iranian forces were participating in the operation.
Both advances come after Moscow launched an air campaign in support of regime forces on September 30, prompting the Army to begin offensives in several provinces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor confirmed regime forces had taken control of large parts of Al-Hader, though it said fighting was ongoing inside the town. It said both Syrian and Russian warplanes were carrying out strikes in the area.
“The town is the biggest headquarters for rebel forces in southern Aleppo, and capturing it would bring the Army closer to the key Aleppo-Damascus highway,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. Al-Hader was largely controlled by Al Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front and other allied Islamist groups, he said.
The town has been a key goal in the regime’s offensive south of Aleppo city launched on October 17 with Russian air support.
Aleppo city has been divided between government control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting began there in mid-2012. The situation is largely reversed in the countryside surrounding the city, and a large stretch of the Aleppo-Damascus highway leading from the government-controlled portion of Aleppo is under opposition control.