Continuing to try to defend their last city in Aleppo Province, al-Bab, from a Turkish offensive, ISIS appears to be looking for a new foothold elsewhere in the province, launching a substantial offensive further to the south near al-Khanaser.
This new offensive began about 36 hours ago, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who reported at least 39 Syrian troops had been killed by ISIS fighters. 12 ISIS fighters were also reportedly killed in the heavy fighting, which looks to gain the province’s southeast.
This area is potentially very important to the Syrian military, located along some important highways leading into the city of Aleppo, which the military only recently managed to fully wrest from al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. Efforts to push Nusra out of the surrounding area have been the recent focus, and it appears to have given ISIS a chance to push into the area.
This route would likely be the government’s choice for pushing into ISIS’ capital city of Raqqa, through the ISIS-held city of Tabqa, and with US and Turkish forces apparently having designs on a big push into Raqqa, ISIS may believe this counter-offensive will prevent Syria’s military from being seriously involved.