ISIS nears regime positions
outside Aleppo

The extremist group seized control of the strategically important Infantry Military College.

Fighting in the Sheikh Najjar Industrial City. (AFP/Zakariya al-Kafi)

BEIRUT – ISIS has continued its gradual offensive against rebel groups north of Aleppo, sweeping into control of a key position near regime lines.


Local sources told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency on Friday that ISIS had “launched an attack on the Infantry Military College last night and taken control of it today.”


The Infantry Military College, which is located northeast of Aleppo, is considered a strategically important position that lies on a road leading to the regime-controlled Sheikh Najjar Industrial City area approximately two-kilometers to the south.  


Rebels first seized the Infantry Military College from the regime in December 2012 by the Islamist Tawheed Brigade.


Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told Reuters that ISIS’ overnight offensive “marked their biggest gains in the area since late August.”


Anadolu added that after seizing the Infantry Military College, ISIS “advanced westward, taking control of the Juvenile Prison.”


The source added that ISIS had also seized “the villages of Tel Susayn, Maartiytah, Kafr Qaris, Tel Qarah, and the town of Fafin, as well as the Free Zone and the Cement Factory,” all of which are situated in the area to the north and west of the Infantry Military College.


Pro-rebel outlet All4Syria also reported on the ISIS assault, describing the Infantry Military College as “one of the rebel’s most important bases in the area.”


All4Syria’s correspondent said that dozens of fighters had been killed and injured on both sides in the fierce clashes that followed ISIS’s surprise attack.


In the late spring ISIS built up its military presence in a line of territory stretching from the Turkish border southward toward Aleppo to launch a comprehensive military operation against rebel groups.


The extremist group has notched slow-moving successes, pushing rebels back westward in the direction of the key border town of Azaz.


Despite the ferocity of the ISIS onslaughts, rebel groups in the northern Aleppo have managed to hold a relatively stable defensive line, holding back an offensive on the strategic town of Marea in late August.


Turkey in the late July look poised to enter the fray of the northern Aleppo campaign after it began military operations against both the separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and ISIS.


Despite reports that Turkey wanted to establish an ISIS-free buffer zone in the northern Aleppo area, Ankara has made no substantial moves to implement such plans, focusing instead on its fight against the PKK.

Fighting in the Sheikh Najjar Industrial City. (AFP/Zakariya al-Kafi)

The Infantry Military College, which is located northeast of Aleppo, is considered a strategically important position.