On Saturday 20 January, the situation on the ground rapidly changed in the eastern countryside of Idlib in favor of the Assad’s forces and ally militias, which took over the strategic “Abu al-Duhur” Military Airbase, included in the “Astana 7” agreement as the border for the northern areas under the control of opposition and the regime.
With having control over the Airbase, the opposition’s factions rule moved to the areas west the railway (Hejaz railway) after they lost large portions of the southern countryside of Aleppo and the western countryside of Hama. They are expected to indulge in confrontations in the area separating the railway and Damascus-Aleppo international highway.
Assad’s forces took control over most of the cities and towns of the southern countryside of Aleppo, which decreased the space separating the regime at the Khanasir’s axis town from the northeast of Sinjar to about two kilometers, which mans that they are a target for fire. This coincided with a military recession on the “Free Army’s” fronts in the eastern countryside of Idlib.
In its report, Enab Baladi presents the “strategic” importance of northern Syria.
The Largest Base in the North..An Iranian target
The Airbase is the Syrian regime’s second largest base in northern Syria, which has been controlled by the military factions in September 2015 after an attack led by the former “al-Nusra Front” and the “Turkistan Islamic Party.”
After two years of the factions’ control, the military presence of the Assad’s forces diminished, except in the two towns of Kafriya and al-Fu’ah, which are still under the control of the areas’ militias and “Hezbollah’s” elements.
The Airbase has a military importance for it is located between the two governorates of Idlib and Hama and contains 22 runways.
“Abu al-Duhur” Airbase is 50 kilometers away from the city of Idlib, 50 kilometers away from the city of Aleppo and 36 kilometers from the town of Khanasir. 30 kilometers separate the Airbase from Saraqib and 37 kilometers separate it from Wadi Deif. Its area is about eight square kilometers. The Airbase faced a number of attacks in the first years of the Syrian revolution and was took over after the factions managed to control Wadi Deif and al-Hamidia camp.
In an interview with Enab Baladi, the Military Analyst Ahmad Hamadi said that the military operations heading towards “Abu al-Duhur” are a target for Iran, for “it aims to establish a supply base, near its base in Ezzan mountain in southern Aleppo.”
According to the field reality, control over “Abu al-Duhur” means cutting the road between Aleppo and Damascus by fire for about 20 kilometers from the point of Sarqib.
The Airbase’s area and its surrounding are all planes, which means that at the level of the military geography, any party that controls the Airbase would be able to progress towards Saraqib in 24hours.