Battle of al-Rai (August 2016)

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Battle of al-Rai (August 2016)
Part of the Syrian Civil War
2016 Aleppo campaign (within Northern Syria).svg
Map of the greater campaign in the Aleppo Governorate which includes al-Rai
Date15–20 August 2016 (5 days)

FSA victory

  • First FSA attack on al-Rai repelled
  • The FSA gains full control over al-Rai after a second offensive
  • FSA repels a second ISIL counter-offensive

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army
Supported by:

 Islamic State
Commanders and leaders
Syrian opposition Ismail Ahwaz[2]
(FSA commander)
Saleh Zein[3]
(Sham Legion field commander)
Col. Ahmed Osman[4]
(Sultan Murad Division squad commander)
Lt. Col. Abdul Moneim[4]
(Northern Division commander)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Unnamed ISIL leader (POW)[5]
Units involved

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army

Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki
Sham Legion
Turkish Armed Forces

Military of ISIL

Casualties and losses
10+ killed[6]

The Battle of al-Rai was a battle fought in August 2016 between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the border town of al-Rai, part of the northern Aleppo Governorate on the border with Turkey, which resulted in the FSA capturing the town.


On 8 April 2016, rebels from the Hawar Kilis Operations Room captured al-Rai and more than a dozen other villages, but withdrew after an ISIL counter-offensive 3 days later that recaptured almost all the villages they have lost. The rebels also briefly took over the town for a few hours in June before being driven out.[3]

The battle[edit]

On 15 August 2016, after heavy artillery bombardment rebels began to storm the al-Rai grain silos and captured the silos along with several other positions.[7] However, they were forced to withdraw the next morning after an ISIL counterattack from the north which recaptured all the points ISIL lost.[8] Landmines played a role in slowing down the offensive.[2]

On 17 August, FSA fighters launched a second assault after targeting IS positions with rocket artillery, breaking through the first lines of defense and re-entering the town.[9] The FSA blew up 3 car bombs during the battle[10] and fully captured al-Rai and its border crossing later that day, taking a number of surrendering ISIL militants as prisoners of war.[5]

On the same day, the USAF operating as part of the CJTF-OIR conducted air support for the rebels during the battle by bombing several IS units near al-Rai.[11] Fighting continued in the outskirts of the town as ISIL retained its headquarters in nearby Dudyan.[2]

Due to the short time given to rebels to fortify the area, IS launched a rapid counter-offensive from the east on 19 August and recaptured the grain silos and nearby hilltops.[12] However, the rebels repelled the attack on the town and claimed to have killed more than 10 IS fighters.[6] FSA fighters also recaptured the grain silos the next day.[4]


On 20 August, a large number of rebels and a military convoy containing more than 50 vehicles loaded with heavy and medium weapons from al-Rai were transferred to the Turkish border with Jarabulus, as the Turkish Armed Forces prepared for an attack on Jarabulus.[1]

Between 27 and 28 August, the rebels claimed to had capture three villages east of al-Rai.[13][14] However, it was reported that on 27 August, IS recaptured al-Rai.[15][16] The next day, al-Rai was once again reported to be rebel-held.[17] By 4 September, FSA captured all of the ISIL-controlled territory along the Turkish-Syrian border.[18]


  1. ^ a b c "Opposition groups are preparing to break into Jarabulus, northern Aleppo, from Turkey". ARA News. 20 August 2016. Archived from the original on 1 September 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Lacking military coordination in battles against state regulation". Qasioun. 17 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Factions of the opposition control grain near al-Rai in northern Aleppo". ARA News. 15 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "After the capture of al-Rai, will Turkey force the FSA to fight in Jarabulus?". Al-Quds. 20 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Syria news today from Aleppo and Damascus: factions capture town in northern Aleppo countryside from Daesh". 18 August 2016. Archived from the original on 14 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b "10 Daesh members killed while trying to break into northern Aleppo". All4Syria. 19 August 2016. Archived from the original on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Islamists fail to capture Al-Rai in northern Aleppo". Al-Masdar News. 16 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Daesh regain control of points it lost in the town of al-Rai in northern Aleppo". ARA News. 16 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Syrian opposition entering the town of al-Rai on the border with Turkey". Sky News Arabia. 17 August 2016.
  10. ^ "The Syrian opposition take prisoners in the town of al-Rai, north of Aleppo". Qasioun. 18 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Military Strikes Continue Against ISIL Terrorists in Syria and Iraq" (PDF). Inherent Resolve. 17 August 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-15. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  12. ^ "ISIS recaptures key town in northern Aleppo". Al-Masdar News. 19 August 2016.
  13. ^ "FSA advanced from al-Rai town and took control of Haddabat and Thaljat Gharbi village". Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  14. ^ "FSA capture Sheikh/Mulla Ya'qub east of al-Ra'i". Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  15. ^ Keating, Fiona (27 August 2016). "Isis recaptures Syrian border town al-Rai after defeat in Jarablus by Turkish-backed rebels". Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  16. ^ Charkatli, Izat (27 August 2016). "ISIS recaptures Al-Rai following massive attack". Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Peto Lucem on Twitter". Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  18. ^ IS is losing connection with the international world and being besieged inside the Syrian lands SOHR (4 September 2016)