Syrian, Kurdish Forces Closing off Aleppo, Syrian Forces Moving Towards Raqqa
Feb. 15, 2016 (EIRNS)—The combined actions of the Syrian army and its allies, backed by Russian air support, are cutting off insurgent groups from the Turkish border. According to a series of reports in Al Masdar News, from yesterday and this morning, the Syrian army is preparing for an offensive against militant-held districts in north Aleppo while also moving ever closer to the Aleppo Thermal Power Plant. The power plant is about 26 km east of Aleppo city and its capture by the army would further squeeze those areas of the city and its environs even further. To the north of the city, the YPG (predominantly Kurdish People’s Protection Units) is coming into the environs of Tal Rifaat, which brings them closer to the border town of Azaz. For the YPG, the eventual capture of Azaz "would allow them to be one border-crossing away from linking their lands in the east to the territory they control in the west," reported Al Masdar. Al Masdar also reports fierce fighting, this morning, in the village of Al-Bureij near the Sheikh Najar Industrial District (about 10 or 11 km northeast of downtown Aleppo city).
These offensives by the army and the YPG will have the effect of cutting Raqqa, the self-declared capital of the ISIS caliphate, off from the Turkish border. According to various reports, the Syrian army is about 35 km from the military airport south of Al Tabqah, about 45 km to the west of Raqqa on the Euphrates River. According to RT, the Syrian army is working to take control of and secure the Salamiyah-Raqqa road "which leads directly into the Islamic State stronghold."