Though US and Russian officials brokered something of a ceasefire inside the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, villages near the city are still being contested. Overnight, al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front led a major offensive against the village of Khan Touman, just southwest of Aleppo itself.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported heavy fighting over the village, with at least 73 people killed, 43 of them from the Islamist rebel factions and the other 30 from the Syrian military and its allies. Rebel sources bragged of the “liberation” of the village.
Syrian Army officials, however, disputed the idea that the village had completely fallen in the offensive, and suggested that the battle has not been fully ended. The battle included several Islamist factions aligned with al-Qaeda in the neighboring Idlib Province, but notably did not include the Free Syrian Army (FSA) faction that usually participates.
When Syria launched its offensive against Aleppo, they initially pushed into this area to the south of Aleppo itself, trying to secure supply routes. This, however, also cut off potential Nusra routes from neighboring Idlib, which has made the area of high importance for all sides.