BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:56 P.M.) – A jihadist-led offensive in the southeastern countryside of Idlib has seen militant groups recapture seventeen towns and villages from the Syrian Arab Army after days of renewed attack on multiple axes.
Amid a renewed push by armed rebel groups – led by the hardline Al-Qaeda-affiliated factions Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and the Turkistan Islamic Party – during recent days aimed at driving the Syrian Army southeastern Idlib, militants have managed to wrest back control of seventeen out of the 120-odd settlements taken by government forces throughout the province in earlier weeks.
Key towns retaken by militant groups include Tall Salmo, Sarouj, Khuwayn, Tal Maruq, Umm Khalakhil, Al-Jadaniyah, Rabeea and Mashirfah.
The offensive – though yielding the noteworthy tactical gains now seen – has resulted in high losses among the ranks of rebel militias with at least two hundred fighters having been killed so far as well as half-a-dozen top battlefield commanders.
For all intents and purposes, the rebel counter-offensive has, for the time being, halted the Syrian Army’s advance on the Abu Duhur airbase.
To this end, Syrian forces are now in the midst of absorbing the brunt of the militant assault against the left flank of their penetration advance into Idlib after which they will most likely muster for their own counter-attack to restore the original front-lines.