The Syrian Armed Forces – led by the Syrian Arab Army’s “Tiger Forces” Brigade – continued their offensive in the Idlib Governorate on Thursday, attacking a number of villages under the control of the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and their affiliates near the provincial capital.
After seizing Kafr Najd and Nahlaya, the Tiger Forces – in coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF) and the 11th Tank Division – stormed the Jabhat Al-Nusra controlled village of Koreen, fighting their way to the village-center after fierce clashes for most of the day on Thursday.
According to a military source in Idlib, the Syrian Armed Forces now control more than 50 percent of Koreen; this includes the southeastern entrance to the village and most of the village-center.
Northeast of Koreen, the NDF is involved in a violent battle with Harakat ‘Ahrar Al-Sham and Jabhat Al-Nusra for control of Fayloun – a village that sits just southwest of Idlib City.
On Thursday, the NDF finally expanded their control over the southeastern sector of Fayloun after breaking through Jabhat Al-Nusra’s frontline defenses inside the village, killing at least 20 enemy combatants in the process of their advance.
Southeast of Idlib City, the Tiger Forces and their allies pounded the militants from the Jabhat Al-Nusra affiliate “Jund Al-Aqsa” with a barrage of artillery shells at Qameenas, where they followed with a powerful ground assault to take control of the eastern sector of the village.
As a result of their success at Qameenas, the Tiger Forces were able to clear a path for the SAA’s 11th Tank Division to begin their advance towards the strategic town of Sarmeen, while the former pushes north towards the small village of Danit.
The Syrian Armed Forces’ expansion to the east and west appears to be the inception of a pincer movement to attack the provincial capital from the eastern and western flanks.
Despite the SAA’s offensive, the militants from Jabhat Al-Nusra and Harakat ‘Ahrar Al-Sham still attacked the NDF’s positions near the Brick Factory near Al-Mastouma; however, assault achieved limited success, as the Islamist forces were eventually pushed back to the east.
The Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) continued where they left off yesterday, launching 66 airstrikes over the province of Idlib on Thursday, while their allies on the ground were on the offensive.
Among the SAAF’s prevalent targets was the Bab Al-Hawa border-crossing into Turkey that is used as a primary entrance for the Islamist forces.
The SAAF bombarded the main road to the border-crossing at least a dozen times; it has become an easy target for the SAAF, who benefitted immensely from the Turkish Army’s closure of the border-crossing for civilians – only militants on the road now.