ISIS benefits from Russian air strikes, now closer to Aleppo

ISIS takes advantage of Russian air strikes, targets opposition held areas in Aleppo, and further advances towards the northern province

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Civilians carry belongings recovered from a site hit by what residents said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Darat Izza in Aleppo's countryside October 7, 2015

ISIS had noticeably advanced towards the northern province of Aleppo in Syria early on Friday, seizing several villages, and taking advantage of Russian air strikes in the region that dispersed the Syrian opposition forces.

The Russian air strikes weakened the presence of Syrian opposition fighters in Aleppo, leading to ISIS taking over several villages just outside Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

ISIS also attacked opposition held town of Huraytan, which is inside Aleppo city, with a massive car bombing that ripped through the biggest square in town on Thursday evening. The bombing killed at least 25, including four children.

At least 30 others were seriously wounded, and all of the victims were either vendors or pedestrians. The seriously injured successfully crossed the border to receive proper medical treatment in Turkish hospitals.

Some of the deceased bodies were too disfigured to identify, this is the first ISIS attack on Hureytan in Aleppo, since opposition forces kicked the violent militancy out in February 2014.

Russia’s air strikes causing ISIS advancements

SOHR’s head Rami Abdelrahman said ISIS’s advance towards Aleppo is considered to be the biggest for the militancy in several months.

“Dozens were killed on both sides during the clashes” says Abdelrahman, pointing out that “this is the closest ISIS has ever reached to Aleppo.” 

ISIS presence in those villages has made the militant group within a distance of only 20 km away from Aleppo city, and considerably close to Assad stronghold city of Sheikh Najar.

The villages ISIS seized were held by the opposition since 2012 which are Tel Aqrah, Tel Susin and Kafr Kars as well as a Madraset Al Mushah military base. ISIS released a statement about the advancement, saying that seizing the Madraset Al Mushah military base is considered “a huge strategic victory” for the militancy.

Russia’s presence in Syria started in September 30, initially to combat the growing militancy of ISIS, however, the majority of the Russian air strikes have targeted the Syrian opposition rather than ISIS, ultimately proving the Russian intention in Syria, which is to boost the withering authorities of Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

The Syrian regime army has continued their grande assaults on opposition held regions, with the support of the Lebanese Shiite militias "Hezbollah" covered by Russian warplanes.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his country’s jet fighters destroyed a training camp in belonging to ISIS Raqqah, Syria, on Thursday night.

Le Drian criticised the Russian agenda in Syria as well, speaking to Europe 1 radio on Friday, saying Russia’s air strikes targets were overwhelmingly hitting Bashar al Assad opponents and not ISIS in Syria, adding that Assad “was not the solution” for Syria.

Le Drian said Russia is deploying military vessels in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

"80 to 90 percent of Russian military operations in Syria in the last 10 days did not target ISIS, but mainly seeks to protect Bashar al Assad’s regime," Le Drian added.

Russia and Iran have been backing the Syrian regime since the beginning of the four-year war which claimed more than 250,000 Syrians, whilst, half of the country’s population are displaced internally or in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and in Europe.

TRTWorld and agencies