Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham decided to use the second day of their counteroffensive to attack and capture the towns of Ma’arat Misrin, Ram Hamdan, Kafr Yahmoul, Ma’arat Ikhwan, and Hazano in northern Idlib governorate. This well-executed move protects Idlib city from any possible Jabhat Tahrir Suriya attack, and at the same time cuts off all JTS forces in western Aleppo governorate from traveling to Idlib governorate. This has the effect of preventing any JTS reinforcements from reaching southern Idlib or Hama governorates without smuggling from the border crossing at Khirbat al-Jawz near Latakia. HTS is making all the right moves it should to protect its holdings near the Turkish border.
Idlib was not the only front which witnessed a HTS counterattack. The group fought back in western Aleppo by retaking the villages of Rif al-Muhandisin, Arnaz, Sheikh Ali, and Regiment 46 base. They also regained significant areas south of Afrin by seizing Termanin, al-Dana, and Tal Adeh. The military capacity needed to make advances this large indicates that JTS did not take the time to properly fortify their gains and instead betted on the momentum of a continuous advance. This bet did not pay off, as HTS was willing to devote most of its mobile resources to fight back.
By Peter Bucci (@Peter_Bucci)