Militant forces linked to the Syrian affiliate of Al-Qaeda are reinforcing their positions opposite Syrian Arab Army lines in southwest Aleppo province after initially disengaging from the region several days ago, Al-Masdar News says.
The armed groups recently announced their withdrawal from the Al-Hass mountainous region in Aleppo’s southeastern countryside.
Militant factions justified their withdrawal decision by saying that a mass encirclement of rebel fighters in southwest Aleppo due to Syrian Army advances in eastern Idlib was highly possible and this made it strategically unfeasible or militarily wasteful to defend the Al-Hass region.
In the event, at least one rebel group – this being Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) – has decided to re-militarize the Al-Hass area and to this end, the last twelve hours has witnessed the jihadist faction flood southwest Aleppo with reinforcements.
The presence of militants within southwest Aleppo is confirmed by the fact that Syrian army-led forces advancing towards government positions in eastern Idlib via Khanasser have encountered resistance from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham fighters.
The actual number of Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the Al-Hass region remains unknown.