Last spring, the Islamist rebel coalition, Jaish al-Fateh (Army of Conquest), captured the city of Idlib from government forces as well as the vast majority of the province. However, a small Shia enclave at the towns of Foua and Kafrhaya refused to capitulate. Nevertheless, insurgents also captured Jisr al-Shigbour near Lattakia and Morek in northern Hama during the year of 2015.
Despite these sudden advances, the Syrian Arab Army has since re-mobilized and gradually pushed towards Idlib from three different flanks: namely northern Hama, Lattakia and southern Aleppo. For instance, government troops are currently stationed a mere 30 kilometers from Idlib at both the western and eastern outskirts of the governorate.
Lately, the Syrian Arab Army – strongly supported by various Shia paramilitaries and Russian airstrikes – has made rapid gains in southern Aleppo thereby capturing Hader, Al-Eis and even reached as far as the M5-Highway that runs from Aleppo to Hama.
While Islamist rebels of Jund al-Aqsa and Jaish al-Fateh have consolidated their victory at Morek, further east, government troops have advanced to the village of Ashtan. Thereby, the frontline in northern Hama has remained somewhat static over the past month.
However, government troops in Lattakia have liberated more than a dozen villages over the past week alone and rather remarkably captured the Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) stronghold of Salma which had otherwise been rebel-held since July, 2012. Since the loss of Salma, the rebel frontline in Lattakia has almost entirely crumbled with government troops as close as 10 kilometers from the Turkish border.
If Jaish al-Fateh commanders are to revert government gains in Lattakia and southern Aleppo, they must recruit new fighters and send reinforcements to their slowly collapsing frontlines. However, due to diminishing manpower and persistent Russian airstrikes, Islamist commanders are now forced to prioritize between these 3 potentially dangerous frontlines.