North Aleppo rebels break
ISIS siege on Marea

Mutassim Brigade fighters. (Facebook/Mutassim Brigade)

BEIRUT – Free Syrian Army-affiliated rebels have broken through ISIS lines around Marea, reopening the supply lines to the key north Aleppo town.


“The Mutassim Brigade has liberated the villages of Sandaf, Kaljibrin and Kfarkalbin after forcing ISIS out of the villages,” the rebel brigade announced Wednesday morning.


The announcement came only hours after the Mutassim Brigade released a video in which all the fighting factions in Marea pledged to unite and fight under the banner of the FSA group, which has been backed by the international coalition fighting ISIS.


Opposition forces in Marea announce their incorporation into the Mutassim Brigades. 


A media activist based in Marea told the pro-opposition 7al.me outlet on Wednesday morning that the US-led coalition conducted airstrikes against ISIS forces in Sandaf, Kaljibrin and Kfarkalbin, while the US Department of Defense announced it bombed ISIS targets outside Marea.


Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the rebel counterattack left them in control of Sandaf and Kfarkalbin, while fierce fighting was raging in the vicinity of Kaljibrin, all of which lie north of Marea along the motorway to Azaz,  which serves as a vital supply line from Turkey for opposition forces.


Rebels insisted they had taken Kaljibrin from ISIS though, while a picture circulated social media showing the opposition forces taking a “selfie” in front of a sign for the village.


Kaljibrin Selfie


The Syrian Revolution Network page celebrated the ISIS defeat, uploading a photo alleging to show armed fighters driving through the streets of Marea celebrating their Wednesday morning victory.


Marea celebration


The advance reverses the stunning gains notched by ISIS on May 27 when the jihadist group’s surprise attack pushed back beleaguered rebel forces in a stretch of territory near the Turkish border, splitting their lines in half.


The Mutassim Brigade in Marea—which was sandwiched between ISIS and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces—has received US support, including an airdrop of weapons and ammunition last week, the first such weapon delivery to a unit in the Syria other than the SDF.


NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated the Arabic-language source material.

Mutassim Brigade fighters. (Facebook/Mutassim Brigade)

The Mutassim Brigade has liberated the villages of Sandaf, Kaljibrin and Kfarkalbin after forcing ISIS out of the villages.