In a rather odd series of events near the provincial capital of Idlib, the Syrian Armed Forces and the combined Islamist groups that form  “Jaysh Al-Fatah” are both on the offensive, despite the fact they are attacking one another a few kilometers apart.

On Monday, Jaysh Al-Fatah launched another assault on the Syrian Government stronghold of Ariha, attacking the National Defense Forces (NDF) and Syrian Arab Army’s 11th Tank Division at the eastern flank of the city from their positions at the village of Kafr Lata to the east.

Unable to break-through the NDF and 11th Tank Division’s frontline defenses at Ariha, the joint force from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and Harakat ‘Ahrar Al-Sham were forced to withdraw their contingents besieging the eastern flank before nightfall on Monday evening.

Sources in the Idlib Governorate have confirmed the security of Ariha; however, their defenses are not impregnable, as the Islamist forces have proven their ability to reach the eastern barricades of the city.

Meanwhile, west of Ariha, the SAA’s “Tiger Forces” have continued their powerful assault on the village of Koreen, storming the militant positions at the southern perimeter of Tal Zahir Al-Mufraq – a hill adjacent to the village.

The Tiger Forces were successful in expanding their control around the hill; however, they still do not have control Tal Zahir Al-Mufraq, as the Islamists have fortified their positions near the hilltop in order to forestall the Tiger Forces’ progression at the village of Koreen.

According to a military source in Idlib, the Tiger Forces advanced to Tal Zahir Al-Mufraq after seizing control of Muqablah and the farms surrounding this rural village – the source also added that the Tiger Forces are inside the village of Koreen, but they have not reached the strategic hill in the west.

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Northwest of Koreen, the NDF pushed deeper into the village of Fayloun, where they have confronted a large contingent from Jabhat Al-Nusra’s affiliate group “Jund Al-‘Aqsa” near the northeastern flank – fighting is still ongoing.

The Tiger Forces reported the death of Jabhat Al-Nusra’s field commander from Saudi Arabia – Ibrahim Al-Yahya – at the village of Qameenas on Monday; this has been confirmed.

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Editor-in-Chief Specializing in Near Eastern Affairs and Economics.

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