Regime forces and its allies advanced towards towns near Aleppo after ISIS retreated from the area due to its loss of al-Bab stronghold to the Turkish-backed rebel force, in a clear hint to a previously arrangement to divide the area between the two sides.
Al-Bab is 40km northeast of Aleppo, where the government defeated rebels in December – its most important gain in the nearly six-year-old war.
The Turkish forces reached the outskirts of al-Bab city on 13 November 2016. The first battle against ISIS was on 21 December 2016 when it prevented Euphrates Shield factions from entering the city, what made the Turkish forces begin a new military operation on 7 February that led to recapturing most of the town on February 23.
ISIS forces retreated from al-Bab after their defeat and tried to keep their hold on the surrounding areas, but they were met with fierce attacks by both the rebels and regime forces. The two sides aim at strengthening their positions around Aleppo.
On Sunday, the Assad regime forces took the town of Tadef after Islamic State withdrew from it, state television reported. Tadef is located just one kilometer south of Al-Bab.
The eastwards advance south of Tadef has extended Syrian army control across 14 villages and brought it within 25km (15 miles) of Lake Assad, the stretch of the Euphrates above the Tabqa dam.
By taking territory south of al-Bab, the regime is moving closer to regaining control of Aleppo’s water supply.
Normally, such an advance may trigger tension with the rebel force, but it seems to be a previous arrangement to divide te area between the two sides.
Earlier this month, a senior Russian official said Tadef marked an agreed dividing line between the Syrian army and the Turkey-backed forces.
Earlier in February, A clash erupted between the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Assad regime forces near the town of al-Bab while they were racing to capture more villages around the key town, but the clash was stopped quickly after Russian intervention,
It seems that Russia’s role was extended to cover the all areas around al-Bab, to create a state of balance and prevent any future clashes between the both sides.
Car bomb near al-Bab
Separately, Two suicide car bombs were conducted near Syria’s Al-Bab town on Friday killing dozens of civilians as ISIS militants were retreating.
Friday’s first bombing killed 53 people in the village of Susiyan, 10km northwest of Al-Bab, and struck Syrian rebels battling ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, local sources said.
The second explosion took place a few hours later and left eight dead, according to the Aleppo Media Center and Thiqa News agency, media platforms operated by opposition activists.
The first suicide bomber targeted a checkpoint manned by Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters that was crowded with civilians early on Friday.
the attacker blew himself up in a large gathering of displaced people according to activists.
“Dozens of civilians have been killed and injured, many of them trying to return back to their homes in Al-Bab,” he said.
He added that several cars and motorbikes were destroyed in the powerful blast.
Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said at least 41 wounded were taken for treatment to the Turkish border town of Kilis.
— وكالة ثقة (@thiqanewsagency) February 24, 2017
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.