The Syrian Arab Army’s 43rd and 154th Brigades of the 4th Mechanized Division, Hezbollah (Lebanese resistance), and Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi paramilitary) have been successful in every phase of the massive southern Aleppo offensive thus far; however now, they are preparing for their most daunting military operation since the first Qalamoun offensive in late 2013.
Phase 1 and 2 of the southern Aleppo offensive consisted of the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division and their allies seizing the Islamist strongholds along the strategic Aleppo-Damascus Highway (M-5 Highway).
Phase 3 will consist of the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division pushing west towards the town of Khan Al-‘Assal, while Hezbollah and Harakat Al-Nujaba strike the Islamist rebels from Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Harakat Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, and Liwaa Suqour Al-Sham along the Aleppo-Damascus Highway until they reach the town of Saraqib in the Idlib Governorate.
Whether Hezbollah and Harakat Al-Nujaba decide to attack the rebel stronghold of Saraqib is still up-in-the-air; it is ultimately not part of the primary objective.
The ultimate objective is to open a pathway to the Aleppo-Latakia Highway (M-4 Highway), which would effectively create a shorter and more effecient supply route to the Aleppo Governorate; it would also lift the siege of Kafraya and Al-Fou’aa – two predominately Shi’i villages north of Idlib City.
All of this seems promising in theory; however, this is a very difficult military operation that will likely create one of the bloodiest battles we will see throughout this violent war.