According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights another Jihadi controlled district of eastern Aleppo – Tariq al-Bab – has now been captured by the Syrian army.
The BBC is reporting that two-thirds of the former Jihadi pocket of eastern Aleppo has now been recaptured over the course of the last 10 days by the Syrian. However this is an exaggeration. Tariq al-Bab, though an important neighbourhood, and one which was amongst the first captured by the Jihadis in 2012 and which has been under their control ever since, does not account for such a large area of the Jihadi pocket.
The BBC is however right to say that with the capture of Tariq al-Bab the government controlled areas of Aleppo – ie. the main part of the city – are now once more in direct road communication with Aleppo airport, which has always been under the Syrian government’s control.
This is of great symbolic as well as practical importance. Before the Russian intervention last year the Jihadis had managed to cut all the roads to Aleppo, leaving Aleppo airport as the city’s only remaining lifeline. The fact that there were no direct road links from the airport to the city obviously further complicated its resupply, and threatened a humanitarian crisis in the city. The recapture of Tariq al-Bab brings that chapter to a close.
What is interesting about this latest information about the Syrian army’s recapture of Tariq al-Bab is its source.
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights is a British based monitoring group which throughout the Syrian conflict has consistently sided with the opposition and against the Syrian government. Whilst it has been much derided as the work of a single man with laptop, in my experience it can be used as a source of reliable information about the situation in Syria if used carefully. Clearly it has access to well-informed sources in Syria, and there are rumours that it is in some way connected to British intelligence agency.
Assuming that this report is true – and all the indications are it is – then this recapture by the Syrian army of another vital district of eastern Aleppo suggests that the pace of the Jihadi collapse in the city is accelerating.