The first assault by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) on Jirah Airbase would not prove succesful as the Tiger Forces were met by stiff resistance from entrenched ISIS militants at the eastern Aleppo airport.
As clashes raged near the airbase, a sand storm briefly swept over the area during the afternoon, causing jihadist militants to use the poor weather conditions to conduct a minor counter-attack and overrun some points north of Jirah Airbase.
With the Islamic State still firmly in control of Jirah Airbase, the SAA’s commander-in-chief Suheil Al-Hassan will likely divert his attention to the villages and hills surrounding the base, thereby prompting the Islamic State to either concede the airport or leave a significant number of jihadist combattants trapped inside it.
Meanwhile, 80 Russian airstrikes struck ISIS insurgents in the Maskanah Plains on Friday according to Amaq Agency, the official Islamic State outlet.
At the moment, the Tiger Forces are regrouping while monitoring potential weak points in the new ISIS defensive line along the axis between Jirah Airbase and Deir Hafer.
Jirah Airbase represents a gateway into the Raqqa governorate; therefore, Islamic State fighters are forced to put up a fight in the region if they are to avoid the SAA from pushing into ISIS’ heartland.
The Tiger Forces have liberated over 200 villages in the eastern Aleppo countryside since it began its large-scale offensive two months ago. In addition, government forces have reached Lake Assad for the first time since 2012 while restoring control over Aleppo province’s main water facility at Al-Khafsa.
Photos of ISIS thwarting the government assault on Jirah Airbase: