Hundreds of opposition fighters have been killed in recent weeks as various jihadist groups continue to slaughter each other in an ongoing bloodbath across Idlib province.
On Wednesday afternoon, the newly formed Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham seized the village of Heish in southern Idlib after Jund al-Aqsa militants retreated to the nearby towns of Khan Sheikhun (Khan Shaykhoun) and Morek in a last-ditch effort to hold their ground against hostile Fatah al-Sham rebel factions that now control all neighbouring villages.
Dozens of combattants on both sides died during the battle for Heish; remarkably, the Idlib infighting has been largely overlooked by mainstream media outlets.
For Jaish al-Fateh to resume its military operations against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in northern Hama, it remains vital to secure Khan Sheikhun and Morek as these towns serve as rearguard against the government frontline a few kilometers further south.
Meanwhile, rumours suggest Jund al-Aqsa may accept a deal which would have them leave for Raqqa and effectively join ISIS. This was alleged by Tahrir al-Sham in an online statement on Wednesday. However, how this could be substantiated remains to be seen.
Jund al-Aqsa is still loosely tied to al-Qaeda while Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, one of several jihadist groups that founded Tahrir al-Sham last month, broke off its ties with Al-Qaeda in July 2016 allegedly to gain financial support from Gulf States.