Fri 28 Feb 2020

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Two missiles, hit and run operations… Syrian opposition’s tactics to repel attack of Syrian regime on Idlib

A tank belonging to the National Liberation Front in rural Hama - 6 June 2019 (AFP)

A tank belonging to the National Liberation Front in rural Hama - 6 June 2019 (AFP)

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The pace of battles in the southern and eastern regions of Idlib province has decreased for the past few days after a military campaign waged by the Syrian army forces backed by Russian air power, since mid-December 2019.

US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on the need to de-escalate tensions in Idlib, Syria in order to “protect civilians,” the White House said on 2 January, a day after eight people were killed in a Syrian missile strike in the province.

The Security Council convened an emergency meeting to examine the situations in the region.

Talks have taken place between the Turkish and Russian sides to discuss Syria and the last opposition enclave in Idlib, amid Turkey’s concerns over the consequences of a Syrian regime’s military offensive there. Moreover, Turkey fears a new wave of refugees from the Idlib region. However, the outcomes of the negotiations have not been made public until this moment.

The Syrian regime forces captured 31 villages and military points in the southern and eastern countryside of Idlib as a part of the ground offensive which was accompanied by an air escalation in the city of Maarat al-Numan and its eastern countryside. The offensive resulted in the displacement of 264,000 persons to the border areas, according to the Syrian Response Coordinators Group (SRCG).

Opposition tactics to eliminate the Syrian regime’s attack

The armed opposition factions tried to repel the attack on Idlib through two basics tactics; the first of which is by using anti-armor missiles by the National Liberation Front (NLF) of the National Army while the other tactic is through using ambush and hit-and-run attacks carried out by the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

The al-Fateh al-Mubeen operation room is composed of the HTS and the NLF, as well as other factions from the northern countryside of Aleppo which coalesced under the umbrella of the Turkish-backed “National Army”

The HTS confirmed the continuation of offensive operations to repel the attacks of the Syrian regime, according to Taqi al-Din Omar, the communications director at HTS.

Omar called for the creation of new fronts in the areas of “Operation Olive Branch” and “Operation Euphrates Shield” in northern Syria to relieve pressure on Idlib.

The NFL’s informed source, spoke on condition of anonymity with Enab Baladi, said that the NLF used the Tow anti-armor missiles to stop the advance of the regime’s forces.

The source added that the NFL was provided with many Tow anti-armor missiles and different weapons in the last few days, referring to their positive impacts on the battle ground. In addition, the opposition factions are supplied with ammunition on a regular basis, yet they are insufficient to continue fighting and controlling new military points.

The opposition factions posted videos on their official media outlets, documenting their intensified Two missile attacks on the regime’s positions in the axes of rural Idlib and Latakia in the past two weeks and resulted in dozens of Syrian regime forces killed and injured. Moreover, several tanks and military vehicles were destroyed in the attacks.

The al-Fateh al-Mubeen factions announced the launch of a massive counter-attack against the positions of the Syrian regime forces in the axes of the southern and eastern Idlib countryside, with the aim of regaining lost military posts and villages in the past days. However, the military attack ended after only four hours of launching the attack.

HTS-linked news agency, Ibaa, reported that the HTS’s fighters carried out a “martyrdom operation”, targeting a grouping of the regime forces, west of al-Tah town in the southern countryside of Idlib, and resulted in the withdrawal of regime forces from the targeted area. The HTS announced later that the military operation was aimed at mounting counter-raids not to control new areas.

Military build-ups in rural Aleppo

Youssef Hammoud, Syrian National Army’s official spokesman, told Enab Baladi that the Syrian National Army reinforced all its military fronts in the countryside of Aleppo, after military build-ups of the Syrian regime forces in the area. Hammoud reported to Enab Baladi that the Syrian regime withdrew its forces from several axes to send them to the countryside of Aleppo, especially from the coastal front and the eastern region.

Hammoud stressed that all confrontation points on the front line are reinforced, and that the opposition factions have only the option of resistance vis-a-vis the Syrian regime to defend the area.

Hammoud also indicated that there is no shortage of fighters on the fronts, in response to Enab Baladi’s question about the possibility of pulling National Army fighters from the fronts of Idlib and its countryside.

There has been a military escalation in the eastern and southern Idlib countryside by the regime forces and their backers Russia in the past two weeks, through a ground operation on 19 December 2019. The Russian-backed Syrian forces controlled an area of about 320 square kilometers, amid defensive and offensive operations of the factions to address this offensive.

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