Syrian War

Syrian Islamists Face Growing Pressure on Multiple Fronts

by Jason Ditz

North Syrian Islamist faction the Levantine Front is facing mounting losses in Aleppo Province, as their battle with the Syrian military turns sour just as the Kurdish YPG is mounting its own offensive in the area, imperiling them on another front.

The Syrian military’s offensive initially started as an effort to ease the siege on a pair of Shi’ite towns, and having successfully done so they also put pressure on supply lines in the city of Aleppo, which before the war was the nation’s financial and industrial capital.

When the fighting over Aleppo began years ago, both sides predicted the battle would decide the whole civil war. It’s been stalemated so long, however, that most of the city is a wreck, and it’s not clear how much real benefit anyone would have from gaining full control of it anymore.

That fight, however, has pushed the Levantine Front onto its heels, and the YPG’s push deeper into Aleppo, primarily aimed at fighting ISIS over the Turkish border, has them facing another front. The front is also enemies with ISIS, which mans they can’t retreat in that direction either.

The front includes groups from several different Islamist factions, including some being armed by the US and Turkey. The group’s leadership is complaining that they aren’t receiving near as much military support as the Syrian military is from Russia, and that this is a major blow to their effectiveness.

Yet ultimately, this group’s existence was tenuous by design, with little territory and surrounded by much bigger factions, each of which was an overt enemy to some faction within the front, all but ensuring that they’d eventually be fighting everyone. It just comes as a surprise that they’re fighting everyone at once this soon.