ISIS forces are once again contesting a series of villages in the Aleppo Province leading to the important border crossing at Azaz. The area is held by a coalition of rival rebel forces, who enjoy some backing from al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
10 ISIS fighters and 37 rebels were killed in the first day of fighting over the area, though so far the territory remains under the control of the existing rebel factions. ISIS has a broad border with Turkey already, further to the east, but is aiming for Azaz.
Azaz has been one of the most sought after crossings throughout the course of the war, as it was a hugely important economic hub pre-war, the primary route through which goods flowed to and from Aleppo into neighboring Turkey.
The US-backed “Division 30″ has also attempted to set up shop in Azaz, but has already been attacked there by al-Qaeda. It is unclear if any of those forces remain in Azaz, as the group was trivially small to begin with.