BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:10 P.M.) – The city of Idlib has fallen completely under the control of the Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadist group. Historically, control over the city had been divided between HTS and various Islamist rebel groups, namely Ahrar al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Despite the ceasefire agreement reached two days ago between HTS and Ahrar Al-Sham, the former nonetheless launched a surprise attack on the last bases and checkpoints belonging to both the latter and the FSA today.
Firefights erupted for several hours, however in the end, Ahrar al-Sham and FSA forces based in Idlib were pushed to entirely withdraw from the city.
This development puts Idlib city entirely under the control of a designated terrorist organization. Many analysts believe that the strategic repercussions of this move by HTS will actually be of a nature that sees the jihadist group suffer more than benefit.
The main speculation in this regard is that it is now quite possible that Russia, Turkey and the US-led coalition will combine efforts to bomb bases, troop housings, ammunition depots and tactical position of HTS within the city – all of this serving to fundamentally weaken the military capabilities of the terrorist group.