The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has taken six villages from Daesh extremists as they edge ever closer to the Daesh-held town of Al-Bab, which lies on the northeastern outskirts of the embattled city of Aleppo.
Al Jazeera reported that the Syrian opposition forces fighting alongside the Turkish-backed FSA were now “mere kilometres” from Al-Bab, Daesh’s main stronghold in rural Aleppo.
The FSA is conducting its operation with heavy Turkish support as part of Ankara’s “Euphrates Shield” military campaign designed to push organisations deemed to be terrorists away from Turkey’s southern borders.
Turkey has not only targeted Daesh, but also Kurdish militants from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) whom Ankara deems to be a Syrian branch of its own Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Both the Kurdish militants and Turkey’s allies are racing towards the town of Al-Bab, with both sides wishing to clear Daesh out of the town. However, their objectives differ drastically, and their common enemy has not given them a common cause.
The FSA plans to secure Al-Bab in an attempt to regain control of areas of northern Syria, as well as to relieve pressure on opposition-held eastern Aleppo that has been besieged by the Assad regime for months.
The YPG and other Kurdish militants, on the other hand, wish to secure Al-Bab and the surrounding area in order to be able to link up Kurdish-controlled territories as part of their plan to create a contiguous land corridor across northern Syrian under their authority.
If the FSA manage to capture Al-Bab and pose a threat to the Russian-backed Assad regime’s forces and their allied Shia militias, backed by Iran, it may well reverse the gains that the Syrian government made today in Aleppo.
Earlier, the Assad regime managed to recapture territory it lost to the Syrian opposition in western Aleppo, as a part of an opposition offensive to break the siege on eastern Aleppo.