Assad 'helping Isis' in Aleppo offensive

The United States has claimed that the Syrian military is conducting air strikes around the northern city of Aleppo to aid Isis militants in their advance on the city which is currently held by Islamist rebels.

The terror group has been battling a Syrian rebel alliance which includes western-backed fighters, known as the Levant Front, in Aleppo province to capture the rebel-held city, seizing the town of Soran Azaz and two villages on Sunday, forcing rival insurgents into a retreat near the Turkish border.

The gains made by the radical Islamists north of the city have heightened fears that they may capture a crucial supply route into Aleppo from Turkey, cutting off the rebels' armaments to continue the fight for territory on two fronts. Isis militants are now just seven miles from the key highway, a Wall Street Journal report claimed yesterday.

Damascus has routinely denied providing any assistance to Isis but Washington is now claiming that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime are carrying out strikes with the aim of accelerating the group's battle for the strategic city.

"Reports indicate that the regime is making air strikes in support of Isil's (another term for Isis) advance on Aleppo, aiding extremists against [the] Syrian population," the US Embassy Syria tweeted on its official account yesterday night.

"With these latest reports, Asad [sic] is not only avoiding Isil lines, but, actively seeking to bolster their position," the tweets continued.

In a statement, a local council in Aleppo also claimed that the Syrian regime were providing support to Isis in the battle for the city, demanding that "all mujahideen" prepare to fight Isis who are receiving "air cover from the regime".

Last week, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed that a Syrian regime barrel bomb raid killed at least 59 civilians in the Isis-controlled town of Al-Bab, north-east of Aleppo. The US embassy said that such attacks on the Syrian civilian population only assisted the terror group's recruitment strategy.

"We have long seen that the Asad [sic] regime avoids Isil lines, in complete contradiction to the regime's claims to be fighting Isil," Washington's account tweeted. "The fact is that there is no better recruiting tool for Isil than the brutality of the Asad regime."

The account asserted that Assad "lost legitimacy long ago" and therefore would never be a "counterterrorism partner" to Washington.

Aleppo, a city now in ruins, has been at the centre of the four-year Syrian civil war which has taken the lives of almost a quarter of a million people as various Syrian rebel groups continue their insurgency against Damascus.

In contrast to the Levant Front's results against Isis, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters secured a dozen villages from the terror group on both sides of its de-facto capital, Raqqa, on Sunday, according to SOHR.

"Kurdish units and their allies advanced and took control of at least eight villages southeast of Kobani, amid airstrikes by the international coalition," a statement by the monitor said.

However, last month SOHR confirmed that Isis now controls more than half of Syria's total territory after its capture of the Unesco World Heritage site, Palmyra, where they pushed regime troops westwards and now threaten the ancient ruins.

Assad 'helping Isis' in Aleppo offensive | Politics