By Oliviero Reusser
Aleppo - Today, the Syrian Arab Army Tiger Forces, an elite unit led by the infamous commander Suheil al-Hassan and responsible for many of the government forces main victories in Syria, has connected with on the Ithriya-Raqqa highway. With this, the government have secured a vital supply line to the forward positions in the desert of the southwestern Raqqa governorate, located around the town of Resafa, and created a pocket of ISIS territory east of Khanasir. It is very likely that ISIS has mostly retreated from the area, possibly leaving a small force of suicide bombers to slow down the full capture.
The map below shows the supposed ISIS pocket in Aleppo province. It includes several villages, desert areas and the Durayhim military base. As noted above, it is likely that ISIS left the areas and as per usual tactics, left behind IEDs and suicide bombers.
It is expected that the government forces will next take control of the ISIS pocket and thus secure the highway even further. The newly freed up troops can later be used to further extend the bufferzone and start new operations in the Syrian desert. It is highly likely that the areas east of Salamiyah and around the Shumariya mountains in eastern Homs will be the next target; convoys and fighters have been seen leaving towards the area lately.
If anything, this capture means the end of ISIS in the Aleppo governorate, an area which it had a lot of control in since it was formed in Syria.