Earlier today, joint Islamist rebel forces captured the town of al-Khalidyah from government troops – this site lies along the strategic M5-Highway that runs through the Idlib governorate to Aleppo city.
Rebels seized the town as Jabhat al-Nusra lead the offensive with several volunteer suicide drivers who smashed government positions and checkpoints with vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED).
Furthermore, a Jabhat al-Nusra spokesman said moments ago that their fighters had initiated another operation to capture the nearby towns of Zitan and Birneh.
This advance comes as rebels also captured al-Eis in a surprise offensive in southern Aleppo about a week ago.
The attack on Zitan and Birneh is – according to al-Masdar intel – to be led exclusively by Jabhat al-Nusra fighters. Nevertheless, today’s capture of al-Khalidyah was carried about by joint troops of Jund Al-Aqsa, Ahrar ash-Sham, Ajnad Al-Sham, Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army’s 13th division.
On the other hand, entrenched government troops have called on Russian air support as to prevent further gains to be made by advancing Islamist fighters. During the day, about a dozen airstrikes have reportedly targeted al-Nusra Front positions in the region.
With the capture of al-Khalidyah and al-Eis, rebels have now officially begun a large-scale offensive to reverse the gains made by government forces in the region during late 2015.
However, Islamists must recapture another 25 towns and villages if they are to reclaim the territory which this lost to the Syrian Arab Army some months ago and return to the frontline of the summer, 2015.
Sadly, today’s clashes also mark a definite end to the Syrian ceasefire.