Aleppo offensive (April 2016)

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Aleppo offensive (April 2016)
Part of the Battle of Aleppo (2012–present) and the Syrian Civil War
Date 1–12 April 2016
(1 week and 4 days)
Location Aleppo Governorate, Syria
Result

Partial rebel victory

  • The rebels capture Tel Al-Eis[3]
  • Rebel attack on Khalidiyah and Khan Tuman repelled[4]
Belligerents

Syrian Arab Republic

 Iran

Iranian-backed Shi'ite Militias

Hezbollah

Ba'ath Brigades

no Ansar al-Sharia[1]

Ajnad al-Sham[2]

Free Syrian Army
Commanders and leaders
Unknown Syrian commander
Col. Mashallah Shamsi [5]
Unknown
Units involved

23x15px Syrian Army:

 Iran:

Al-Nusra Front

Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria[8]
Syria Free Syrian Army:[2]

Casualties and losses
75 killed (per SOHR)[10][11]
104–140 killed (per rebels)[9][12][13]
1 pilot captured[14]
1 Syrian Sukhoi Su-22[14]
77 killed (per SOHR)[10][11]
350–370+ killed (per SAA)[6][15]

The Aleppo offensive (April 2016) was an operation that started on 1 April when rebel forces, led by the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, launched an offensive south of Aleppo. The main objective of the operation was to recapture territory they had lost during the large-scale government offensive in late 2015.[16][17]

Offensive

In the afternoon of 1 April, rebel forces launched the offensive, targeting the strategic village of Tel el-Ais,[18] that overlooks the Damascus–Aleppo highway.[3] The operation started with preparatory shelling[18] hitting the village's southwestern flank.[19] This was followed up by a ground assault that included an attack conducted by three suicide car bombers against government positions.[20] According to one report, the bombers did not reach their targets,[19] while according to another, they managed to clear the way for the rebel infantry.[21] Still, the attack on Tel el-Ais was eventually repelled. However, soon after, the rebels launched a second assault,[22] and early on 2 April, they captured Tel el-Ais.[3] The Al-Nusra Front claimed they ambushed government troops as they were withdrawing from the village.[20]

After securing the village, the rebels proceeded to attack and seize the Jabal Al-‘Eiss (Mount Eiss) area, with the Army withdrawing towards Hader.[2] Meanwhile, elsewhere along the frontline, the rebels captured the villages of Abu Ruwayl, Hawbar and Birnah as the offensive started, however they were recaptured by the military by the following morning.[23][24] Among the dead on the government side from the previous two days of fighting were 12 Hezbollah fighters[25] and three IRGC officers.[5]

As of early 3 April, a counter-attack had not yet started as government forces were awaiting the arrival of the final batch of ammunition and vehicles. Later in the day, a rebel source stated 100 government vehicles were seen heading towards the southern countryside of Aleppo.[26] At 10 p.m. that evening,[6] the Army counter-attack started and government forces reportedly captured several points on the eastern and northern perimeter of Tel el-Ais, coming to within a few hundred meters of the village.[27] Still, by the morning, two attacks to breach the village itself had been repelled, although the main assault had not yet taken place as airstrikes continued.[6]

On 5 April, a Syrian Air Force plane was shot down in the area of Tel el-Ais by the Al-Nusra Front,[28] with the pilot captured.[29][30] During the day, members of the Iranian 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade reportedly arrived in Hader.[31] For the first time since February, Russian air-strikes were conducted in the southern Aleppo countryside, in preparation for the Army counter-attack.[32]

Late on 5 April, the Iranian special forces, supported by Syrian Army troops, attacked the village. In the early hours of the next day,[7][33] it was incorrectly claimed they recaptured Tel el-Ais.[34] Still, pro-opposition SOHR confirmed government troops made progress in the area of Tel el-Ais.[33] During the day, the rebels temporarily withdrew from the village due to heavy shelling before returning.[34] Elsewhere, the military captured Zorba, but it was recaptured by the rebels one hour later.[35] The same day, another large Army convoy arrived in the area.[36]

On 9 April, the rebels took control of the village of Khalidiyah, near Khan Tuman,[17][37] as well as two hilltops[38] and large parts of Zaytan, Birnah and al-Qal’ajiyyeh.[8][39] Meanwhile, government forces intensified their shelling of Tel el-Ais and nearby Zorba, with over 100 mortars and rockets being fired at rebel positions, while Russian air-strikes continued.[40]

The next day, the military recaptured Khalidiyah and the rebels withdrew from Zaytan, Birnah and other positions they had taken during the previous 24 hours.[4][41][42] During the rebel assault on Khalidiyah and Khan Tuman, four members of the newly arrived Iranian 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade were killed.[43]

On 12 April, a new government assault on Tel el-Ais started.[44] Before the attack, 300 rockets were launched at rebel positions in the area.[45] Fighting also took place near Khan Tuman.[44] The Army managed to advance and capture several hills in the area,[46] as well as most of the village itself.[13] However, this latest attack on Tel el-Ais was also eventually repelled,[47] when government forces withdrew from the village after not being able to take Jabal Al-‘Eiss hill.[13] The hills that they had also seized earlier in the day were once again under rebel control.[48][49]

Aftermath

One week after the end of the offensive, the rebels once again launched a two-pronged attack against Khan Tuman, Zaytan and Birnah. The attack was quickly repelled, with more than 30 rebels reportedly being killed at Khan Tuman and two of their tanks being destroyed.[50]

On 6 May, the Army of Conquest launched another offensive and captured Khan Tuman.[51]

See also

References

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