Islamist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, which has recently rebranded itself as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, aimed to relieve the ongoing siege on their territory within the northern Syrian city of Aleppo today, attacking a major artillery base held by military forces some 2 km away, and which is used as a major ammunition depot for the Syrian Army.
After surprising success in a multi-day offensive to get to the base, the attack on the base itself resulting in what is being described as a massive battle, with hundreds reported killed. The Syrian Army insists that the Nusra fighters were ultimately repelled, and that the insurgents took most of the casualties.
The fight doesn’t appear to be over, however, and in addition to removing a major military base in metro Aleppo, if Nusra managed to take the base they’d be cutting the primary supply route into government-held Western Aleppo, which would put that half of the city in the same sort of siege that the rebel eastern half is already under.
Russian airstrikes were reported in the area outside the artillery academy, trying to keep the rebels out, but indications are they were of limited effectiveness, and that the rebels readily broke into the fortress at several positions, meeting the large number of troops within.
Nusra has claimed to have many months of supplies in eastern Aleppo, downplaying the seriousness of the siege, but this large, quick counteroffensive suggests they are desperate to change the situation on the ground in the city, and not content to simply wait out this most recent government attempt to capture their half of what was once Syria’s main financial and industrial hub.
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