RT on frontline: Syrian Army recaptures rebel-held academies, cuts off militant supply route
The Syrian Army has regained control over three military academies in Aleppo, cutting off the supply route used by militants in the eastern part of the city. RT’s Lizzie Phelan talked to the soldiers who’ve been taking the city back, stone by stone.
“Sheikh Said neighborhood is the main gate to East Aleppo that is under the control of terrorists,” a soldier told RT.
The army, backed by aerial and artillery attacks, managed to recapture the strategic complex comprising of three military academies in the Ramosa district, on Aleppo's southwestern outskirts, on Sunday. The battle was a tough one, the soldiers said.
“[The militants] were using TOW, 22mm anti-air craft guns, mortars, rocket launchers, tanks and hell canons,” another soldier said.
The complex had been held by rebels - mainly consisting of Jaish Al-Fateh militants, previously known as Al-Nusra Front - since early August, when they broke through the pro-government army lines. Over the past few weeks, the army has engage in heavy fighting to retake the area, as it held the key to Aleppo’s east. By retaking the academies, the army has technically cut the militants’ supply route.
“Now, [the militants’] supply route has been cut off by the Syrian Army, we now have control over the colleges and established a base in the cement factory nearby,” a serviceman said.
The siege was also re-imposed on the city's opposition-held sector where the militants are still holding ground. Pro-government forces in Aleppo now control both routes coming in to the city from the north and from the south.
In a separate battle further northeast, the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army drove Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorist “microbes” (as Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called them) from areas they controlled along a 55-mile (89km) stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border, after Ankara opened a new front in its Euphrates Shield military operation in Syria.
The operation lured many of the city’s fighters to new battlefronts and away from their ally Fateh Al-Sham, which used to benefit from Turkey’s previously-lax border policy - if not outright support.
The Euphrates Shield operation started on August 24 in the northern Syrian city of Jarablus when Turkish forces crossed into Syria under the pretext of targeting IS positions along the border.
After driving out Islamists from some 20 villages, Turkey secured the border with its neighbor, the Turkish military said in a statement, according to Reuters. However, besides IS, Turkey is clashing with the Kurdish YPG militia, which is part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The government in Damascus has condemned the Turkish incursion as a violation of Syrian sovereignty. The Russian Foreign Ministry also urged Turkey to “coordinate its military actions in Syria with Damascus [and] refrain from attacking opposition and ethnic groups.”
Aleppo, capital of the most populous Syrian Aleppo Governorate and the country’s second largest city, has been at the forefront of the war since July 2012 and has suffered catastrophic devastation as a result. Thousands have been killed in the Battle of Aleppo, raging over the past four years, and much of the city’s ancient heritage has suffered significant damage.