The Syrian regime continues to make advances against the rebels in the Greater Idlib region as it attempts to siege a strategic town.
The recent capture by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) of the town of Habeet, in the south of Idlib province, represents a significant strategic gain for the regime’s forces. The site was even visited by the Syrian Minister of Defence, Ali Ayyoub, which demonstrates the importance of this military development for the regime.
The great majority of the northern regions of Hama, which border Idlib Province, are under the control of the regime’s forces. The capture of Habeet in southern Idlib means that the SAA will now focus on advancing towards the largest town of the region, Khan Sheykhun, which has been infamous for the chemical attack perpetrated by the regime on the town for its opposition proclivities.
The potential capture of Khan Sheykhun will give the SAA a strong foothold in southern Idlib and will effectively impose a siege on the little rebel presence left in northern Hama and will likely end with their surrender. The towns of Morek and Lataminah in northern Hama will, in this case, be fully isolated and will likely be attacked after the potential capture of Khan Sheykhun. Khan Sheykhun will also be a spring board for further advancements into Idlib Province as the M5 highway leading up to a prominent rebel stronghold, Maarat al-Numan, will provide an outlet for the SAA to continue their advance.
The military battles are taking place under the observation of Turkish and Turkish-backed military units, while the SAA is being supported by Russia in its advances. The ground is currently set for the SAA to continue pushing forward, however, this may lead to push-back from Turkey, which is supporting a variety of rebel groups in the region in order to have a foothold in northern Syria, especially vis-a-vis the neighbouring Kurdish-dominated Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.