THE LEVANT – Kuweris Airbase has endured multiple assaults by the Islamic State over the last three weeks, leaving many observers with the question, “how long can the SAA withstand this siege?”
For the Islamic State, artillery shells and VBEID attacks have proven worthless against this heavily fortified airbase. Syrian Arab Army soldiers are positioned a few hundred meters from the Islamic State militants; however, they are not in close proximity to one another.
The distance is truly a facade; it takes the Islamic State days to do advance even a few meters in the direction of the base. As soon as the Islamic State advances, they are forced to retreat due to heavy airstrikes in the area.
Despite the heavy losses, the Islamic State remains undeterred. They know of the severe loss of life during their offensive in Raqqa, but with each death, they become more determined.
The Syrian Arab Army at Kuweris Airbase have been under siege for almost a year and a half. At this point, they have been resilient in the face of insurmountable odds. The soldiers at the base refuse to surrender – they know there is nowhere to retreat and that death is almost certain.
The soldier’s at the base possess a strong will to fight; this may be the Islamic State’s kryptonite, as multiple attacks have been repelled and the loss of life almost demoralizing. The Islamic State militants shout insults daily, but the soldiers remain unmoved. They respond back with their own set of insults to further agitate the entrenched militants.
Recently, Islamic State reinforcements have arrived at the outskirts of the base. The I.S. likes to attack at night; this has been successful in the past, as the sleep deprived soldiers enter the battle fatigued. However, the soldiers at Kuweris Airbase have not slept in a year and a half. The men are surrounded by death, but unwilling to succumb to their own physical distress.