With al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front losing territory in recent weeks around Aleppo, and seeing their main stronghold in the city’s east increasingly surrounded, the group and some of its allies have launched a new offensive south of the city aimed at opening the supply lines back up.
Clashes have been reported throughout the day in several areas around government-held western Aleppo, with the attackers coming from further west, likely reinforcements from Nusra’s main territory, the Idlib Province. Locals described substantial fighting.
This has been a recurring feature in the battle over Aleppo since 2012, but particularly over the past several months, with each side getting a sizeable advantage only to lose it to a sudden counterattack from the other, leaving the civilian population trapped within.
Over the past few weeks, however, it had seemed like Aleppo was really going to be reunified by the military, with Nusra forces on their heels and Russia feeling confident enough to put their airstrikes on hold. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the ceasefire to continue, despite calls from the military to resume attacks.
Exactly how far the latest offensive has gotten is a major of debate, with Nusra claiming they’d captured a suburb that amounts to the whole southwestern corner of Aleppo, and government officials denying that they’d lost anywhere near so much. As usual, it will take some time for this to shake out and become clear what territory changed hands.