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On the Record: Islamic State fighting rebels along 40km stretch in north

The Islamic State mounted an assault on rebel forces across […]

1 June 2015

The Islamic State mounted an assault on rebel forces across the northern Aleppo countryside late last week, less than a month after the latter had formed the “Aleppo Victory Army” intended to capture Syria’s second largest city.

Here, Mundhir a-Salal, former member of al-Jabha a-Shamiya and now vice president of the Free Aleppo Governorate Council, which coordinates political activity and provides services to civilians living in rebel-controlled areas in the province, explains to Moutasem Jamal what the northern front looks like.

Q: What’s the military situation like in the northern Aleppo countryside since IS launched its new assault?

“More than a week ago, a day after rebels announced their intention to liberate Latakia, IS advanced in the northern countryside and crept into the village of a-Tauqli that borders the village of Sauran. IS tried to advance towards Sauran and on other fronts in the northern Aleppo countryside.

The fronts currently active between IS and the rebels stretch for more than 40 kilometers beginning from Sheikh Najjar, where the FSA faces the regime 1km to the south and IS less than a kilometer to the east. That is to say, the rebels there are fighting on two fronts.

IS is trying to expand there to cordon off the rebels and position themselves behind them. If they accomplish that, the rebels would be surrounded by the regime and IS, from the al-Musha school or Sheikh Najjar up until the border with Turkey.

There is a 40km line from Aleppo city to Turkey. There is fighting between IS and the rebels along this entire line.

IS tried to advance on more than one front, they were able two days ago to advance from the Sauran front after hitting rebels with more than 400 mortars, hell cannons, and heavy weapons—they nearly burned the city. They sent in a bus laden with explosives and hit the mujahideen with it, which forced them to retreat from Suaran to the village of al-Kafra.”

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