Russian air strikes and the Syrian government’s army proved an effective tag team in defeating ISIS on Tuesday, as Bashar al-Assad’s forces finally ended an ISIS siege on the Kweires air base in the northern region of Aleppo province.
The Associated Press notes that the siege had been ongoing since 2013, with ISIS forces surrounding the facility as around 1000 Syrian troops clung to their positions awaiting liberation. Reporters have theorized that ISIS’ infamous brutality might have prevented the Syrian troops from surrendering out of fears that they might face the types of executions that have befallen ISIS’ widely-publicized victims.
Syrian state TV claimed that dozens of ISIS fighters died in the battle, and a soldier who had been defending the base said that hundreds of extremist corpses were found around its perimeter.
A triumphant Syrian officer said in a TV broadcast from inside the base, “With the liberation of Kweiras, we will liberate other areas.” ISIS currently controls around half of Syria’s territory.
In addition to assistance from Russian air strikes, Hezbollah militants bolstered Assad’s efforts to lift the ISIS siege.
Breitbart’s John Hayward wrote, “Russian planes have been carrying out airstrikes in the area, coupled with a notable increase in the tempo of Syrian Army operations. This will doubtless reinforce the narrative that Russian air power is helping the Syrian army turn the tide in the years-long civil war. The recapture of Kweires is being widely described as the Assad regime’s most significant success of the war.”
Russian airstrikes have been ongoing in the area since September 30, according to Reuters. Russian planes have reportedly conducted over 1,600 sorties so far.
Syrian state TV captured dramatic footage from the battle, which can be seen below.
Prior to the victory that liberated the besieged troops, Assad had been under pressure to take action for over a year from protesting family members of Syrian soldiers who had been trapped in the ISIS siege with no means of escape.
For context on the regional struggle, watch Ben Swann’s Truth in Media video on the origins of ISIS below.