The Syrian Arab Army’s 103rd Brigade of the Republican Guard has captured over 70 sites in just 3 months inside the Latakia Governorate’s northern countryside, while their adversaries from Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group) and the Free Syrian Army’s “1st Coastal Brigades” struggle to hold onto the mountains along the Turkish border they once considered impregnable.
As if things couldn’t get worse for the aforementioned Islamist rebels, the frigid Latakia winter has just started, making their movements around the steep mountains of Jabal Al-Akrad (Kurdish Mountains) and Jabal Al-Turkmen (Turkmen Mountains) extremely difficult.
While they were able to use the weather to their advantage in the past, Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army no longer have this luxury, as they find themselves being relentlessly pounded by the Russian Air Force’s fighter jets and helicopter gunships.
The Russian Air Force has made it so difficult for reinforcements from Turkey to flow into Jabal Al-Turkmen and Jabal Al-Akrad that they have been forced to find an alternative route in order to evade their reconnaissance aircraft.
Now, the Syrian Arab Army’s 103rd Brigade and their allies have the full advantage – the constant hit-and-run attacks the Islamist rebels used in the past, will now be met with Russian bombs that will be falling from fighter jets moving much faster than the ground vehicles Nusra and the FSA will be using.
This weather is also prime for the Republican Guard to make their advance around the steep mountains surrounding the strategic village of Salma.
In the past, Salma’s defenses proved too difficult to bypass; however, the Russian Air Force’s MI-24 Hind Helicopter Gunships have propelled the Syrian Army’s ground forces through some of Syria’s most rugged terrain because they are able to fly above the soldiers and attack the enemy combatants before the SAA arrives (e.g. Battle of Ghammam).
If the Islamist rebels thought these last few months were difficult, they have another thing coming this winter.