Syria Project

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: September 30 - October 28, 2015

Key Takeaway: Russian airstrikes near Aleppo targeted rebels from October 27-28 as the Syrian regime’s ground offensives suffered setbacks. Syrian regime ground offensives against rebels in the southern countryside of Aleppo and against ISIS near the besieged Kuweires Airbase east of Aleppo City largely stalled following ISIS's offensive against the regime-held town of Safira in the southeastern Aleppo countryside on October 26.

The Fight for Aleppo: October 21-28, 2015

ISIS launched a multi-phase counterattack against the Syrian regime and its allies in Aleppo Province which threatens the regime’s control over its primary ground line of communication (GLOC) to Aleppo City. ISIS seized multiple checkpoints along the highway between the towns of Khanaser and Ithriya in southern Aleppo Province on 23 OCT. These gains blocked the route used by the Syrian regime to deploy reinforcements to Aleppo from Hama and Homs Provinces. ISIS subsequently initiated a major attack targeting the key regime-held town of Safira southeast of Aleppo City.

ISIS Contests Regime Supply Line to Aleppo City

ISIS launched a multi-phase counterattack against the Syrian regime and its allies in Aleppo Province which threatens the regime’s control over its primary ground line of communication (GLOC) to Aleppo City. ISIS seized multiple checkpoints along the highway between the towns of Khanaser and Ithriya in southern Aleppo Province on 23 OCT. These gains blocked the route used by the Syrian regime to deploy reinforcements to Aleppo from Hama and Homs Provinces.

The Islamic State Digs In

Russia’s recent intervention in Syria will generate more opportunities for the Islamic State than it quells. If the Islamic State’s core defenses around major cities in Iraq and Syria hold, the Islamic State will weather Russia’s intervention and likely emerge stronger. New via West Point Combating Terrorism Center: The Sentinel

Regime and Iranian Forces Launch Multi-Pronged Offensive in Aleppo

The Syrian regime and its allies launched a major, multi-pronged offensive in Aleppo Province on October 15 in order to bolster the regime's foothold in Aleppo City. Both Russia and Iran likely aim to enable Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to reassert control over Syria’s largest city given the heavy involvement of their military forces in these operations. Russia and Iran will not limit their support to reinforcing the regime's defenses in its heartland along the Syrian coast.

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: September 30, 2015 - October 14, 2015

Russia’s involvement in Syria is facilitating ISIS’s territorial gains, while also strengthening Assad. Russia is supporting the Syrian regime’s offensives in Latakia, the al-Ghab Plain, and northern Hama. Russia also intensified strikes on rebel-held northwestern Aleppo, likely to set conditions for an imminent Russian-Iranian-Syrian regime offensive in the area.

Joint Syrian-Iranian-Russian Offensive Achieves Only Limited Initial Gains

Key Takeaway: The Syrian regime has not gained much terrain in the first week of its large-scale ground offensive against rebel forces, despite support from intensified Russian airstrikes and hundreds of Iranian proxy reinforcements. Operations against the Syrian opposition will likely prove harder and slower than anticipated by either Russia or Iran, protracting the conflict and exacerbating extremism.

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: September 30 - October 12

Key Takeaway: The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continued to ramp up its aerial campaign in Syria, claiming to conduct 250 “combat sorties” from October 9-12. This spike in Russian military activity is a notable escalation compared to the 20 “combat sorties” flown on October 8. Most Russian airstrikes continued to concentrate in northwestern Hama province in support of a large-scale regime offensive in the area.

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