Rebel forces take border town al-Rai from IS

Rebel fighters pose in the center of al-Rai. Source.

On 7 April, it was reported that the rebel assault on the Islamic State-held town of al-Rai and its border crossing were successful. The town was one of the last border crossings IS held with Turkey. The assault included multiple FSA-affiliated groups, such as Liwa Sultan Murad, the 99th Division, Liwa al-Hamza, and Liwa al-Moutasem, as well as Turkish-backed independent factions, such as Faylaq al-Sham. Interestingly, Ahrar al-Sham has published photographs and videos of their involvement in the attack, on social media, despite previously not publicizing its role in the North Aleppo border campiagn. It appears that Turkey allowed Ahrar al-Sham's 'Central Force' to travel through across the border to join in the assault of al-Rai. The campaign along the Syrian-Turkish border has been supported by both Coalition airstrikes and Turkish artillery bombardment. Following the success in al-Rai, rebels pushed the Islamic State out of the village of al-Waqf, directly to the south. FSA Liwa al-Moutasem has stated their lofty aims to liberate Akhtarin, al-Bab, and Jarabulus, but it remains unclear exactly which direction the offensive will go next. It can be speculated that, due to Turkish artillery support, the rebels will continue east towards Jarabulus, the last border town IS controls.

Map of northern Aleppo, with recent rebel gains shaded in. Source (edited).

Faylaq al-Sham fighters during the assault on al-Rai.