Over the last two months, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has rapidly advanced across the Aleppo Governorate’s northeastern countryside, capturing large swathes territory from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Levantine Front (Jabhat Al-Shamiyah) amid their devastating losses at the Tal Abyad border-crossing into Turkey from the Raqqa Governorate.
Recently, the Free Syrian Army and the Levantine Front have come under fire at two different cities – Tal Rifa’at and Mar’e – as the terrorist group has launched numerous suicide attacks and mortar shells to weaken the frontline defenses of the Islamist rebel forces, while they attempt to push north towards the ‘Azaz border-crossing and south towards the provincial capital.
On Sunday morning, the terrorist group conducted a suicide attack via a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) along the Tal Rifa’at-Sheikh Issa axis; however, the suicide attack was unsuccessful, allowing for the Islamist rebels to build-up their fortifications before the ISIS militants could strike the outskirts of Tal Rifa’at.
In addition to their assault at the Tal Rifa’at-Sheikh Issa axis, ISIS attacked the Free Syrian Army’s “Sultan Murad Brigade” at the town of Dalhah in northern Aleppo; this resulted in a series of fierce clashes between the two groups on Sunday night.
If ISIS is success in their military endeavor to capture the two rebel strongholds of Mar’e and Tal Rifa’at; this will leave the Free Syrian Army, Jabhat Al-Shamiyah and their affiliates in a dangerous position near the Afrin Canton, while the predominately Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) watch from close by.