On the third day of their offensive, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham continued its remarkable advance, capturing seven towns: Taydil, Kafr Taal, Kafar Karmin, Batabo, Kafr Nasih, Al-Jinah, and Abian Sam’an. The moderate stronghold of Atarib is now surrounded from all sides. A jihadi mini-state seems to be under construction in western Aleppo governorate, as HTS openly declares its intention to take Darat Izza and the Aleppo suburbs by force.
Meanwhile, the frontlines between HTS and other rebels in southern Idlib governorate remain silent, as HTS has massed its forces in the north. It is possible that these rebels do not wish to further provoke HTS and possibly lose territory. However, with the bulk of HTS forces mobilized in western Aleppo and northern Idlib, it is possible for Jabhat Tahrir al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army to launch successful small attacks against poorly-defended HTS locations in the south of the Idlib pocket and distract HTS from its Aleppo operation as well as improve their chance of defeating HTS in the future.
By Peter Bucci (@Peter_Bucci)