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IS pushes north of Aleppo

GO WEST, IS: While much of the credit of the […]

13 August 2014

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GO WEST, IS: While much of the credit of the Islamic State’s (IS) recent successes on the battlefield in Syria and northern Iraq have been attributed to its superior weaponry, the IS is pushing out images of its strategy sessions.

This picture was published on IS-affiliated social media accounts Wednesday and widely circulated on the internet following the fall of the town Akhtarin and other villages in northern Aleppo on the same day. The caption at the base of the picture reads: “An explanation of the invasion plan before the attack,” while a man maps out the battle tactics in what appears to be a presentation.

The town of Akhtarin, previously held by non-IS Islamist fighters who remained in the area after Jabhat a-Nusra and fighters associated with the FSA withdrew in late July, is considered strategic because it opens routes into the nearby towns of Marea and Azaz in northern Aleppo.

Observers predict that IS’s next target will be one of those two towns.

Marea is one of the major bases for the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist opposition groups that formed in late 2013 to fight the regime and IS.

Azaz is a city on the Turkish border, which IS fighters previously held, but strategically retreated from months ago when they were surrounded by rebels.

“IS seeks to control northern Aleppo and take the Bab a-Salama crossing [with Turkey] that is close to it,” Ahmed al-Ahmed, a citizen journalist based in Azaz, told Syria Direct Wednesday.

The real goal of ISIS, according to at least one observer, is to extend its territory as much as possible.

“Expect concerted IS push now to Marea & then to Azaz,” said Doha-based Brookings weapons specialist Charles Lister on Twitter Wednesday.

“This has serious implications & indicates intent to continue push west.”

-August 13, 2014

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