Last Spring, the Syrian Arab Army’s 87th Brigade of 11th Tank Division began their massive retreat across the Idlib Governorate, conceding the provincial capital and the strategic cities of Ariha and Jisr Al-Shughour to Jaysh Al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) en route to their embarrassing exit from this province in northern Syria.
Following the loss of the Al-Ghaab Plains’ northern countryside, Jaysh Al-Fateh began to shift their attention the Latakia Governorate, attacking the Prophet Jonah Mountains (Jabal Nabi Younis) and capturing several points along the Hama-Latakia border.
Fear began to spread among the 3.5 million civilians living in the Greater Latakia area: was the province next to fall?
Hope Springs Eternal:
In late September, the Russian Federation turned the tide of the war and strengthened the morale of the Syrian civilians living in the government-controlled areas after they began their massive aerial campaign across the country.
The tumultuous thunder of Russian airstrikes could be heard as far south as Tartous – the Syrian Arab Army was no longer alone.
Three months after the Russian airstrikes began, the Syrian Arab Army’s 103rd Brigade of the Republican Guard had seized several hundred kilometers of territory in northeastern Latakia.
Then, the dominoes began to fall: Salma, Rabi’iyah, and Kinsibba were all captured by the Syrian Armed Forces in stunning fashion.
Not only were the Syrian Armed Forces rolling through the Latakia countryside, they were capturing rebel strongholds that were nearly impregnable months prior.
Road to Redemption:
The Syrian Arab Army’s 103rd Brigade and their allies are nearing the border of the Idlib Governorate; this means that the strategic city of Jisr Al-Shughour is within striking distance.
While the loss of Idlib and Ariha were embarrassing, the Syrian Army’s defeat at Jisr Al-Shughour delivered the deepest blow.
Video footage of their retreat from the city and then the disastrous attempt to flee the Jisr Al-Shughour National Hospital magnified the Syrian Army’s inability to forestall Jaysh Al-Fateh’s blitzkrieg assault
Now, the tables have turned: the Syrian Arab Army’s 103rd Brigade is quickly approaching Jisr Al-Shughour and the Islamist rebels are tattered and in disarray.
On Friday morning, the Syrian Armed Forces transferred a large amount of soldiers to the Kabani-Sirmaniyah front in what is likely to become the first major push to Jisr Al-Shughour.
The road will not be easy; and it would be foolish to assume Jaysh Al-Fateh is just going to lay down and let the Syrian Army enter their heartland.
However, if there was ever a chance at victory for the Syrian Armed Forces; it is right now.