Regime Advances North Of Aleppo With Devastating Russian Air Support

February 2, 2016

Live Updates: The Syrian regime is gaining ground to the north of Aleppo, with hundreds of Russian air strikes reported.

The previous post in our Putin in Syria column can be found here.

Regime Advances North Of Aleppo With Devastating Russian Air Support

Heavy civilian casualties are reported as regime forces and Shia militia fighters advance into rebel-held territory to the north of Aleppo with hundreds of Russian air strikes in support of the offensive.

The regime captured the town of Hardatnin, with this video footage showing recently delivered Russian T-90 tanks entering the town. 

The Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC) report that regime helicopters dropped more than 10 barrel bombs on the town during the assault, with more fighting in neighbouring Rityan.

The aim of the offensive is to link up with a regime-controlled pocket around the towns of Nubl and Zahraa, which is sandwiched between territory controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to the west, and other, opposition groups to the east. 

Rebel fighters continue to claim some tactical victories, with reports of successful TOW missile strikes near Nubl and Zahraa:

There are also reports (which we cannot confirm) that the Iranian Air Force is dropping supplies to the regime forces in the pocket:

Should the offensive succeed, the regime will be able to cut the vital supply road from the border town of Azaz to Aleppo.

This area has been the subject of repeated bombardment by the Russian Air Force for several months now, with strikes intensifying after the downing of a Russian bomber by Turkish jets on November 24 last year.

Hraytan, a town between Aleppo and Hardatnin, was subjected to intense air strikes.

Warning some very graphic footage follows:

In Anadan, to the west, the LCC report that 7 people, including 3 children, were killed and dozens wounded after 25 Russian air strikes.

In addition, two Red Crescent workers, named as Abdulkarim Khiralla and Mohamad Salih Barbana, were reportedly killed when their car was bombed by a Russian jet on the main highway out of Aleppo to the north. 

Meanwhile, with the situation deteriorating rapidly on the ground, the Syrian opposition delegation at the Geneva peace talks has pulled out of a meeting scheduled for this afternoon: 

— Pierre Vaux