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Syrian Army Forces Closing In on Jihadi Stronghold in Idlib Province

Aug. 15, 2019 (EIRNS)—By all accounts, the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces are within a few kilometers, perhaps as close as 3 km, from the gates of Khan Sheikhoun, a major jihadi stronghold in southern Idlib province. AP reported this morning that the SAA had taken three more villages to the west of the city. Al Masdar reported that since the Syrian Army resumed their offensive in southern Idlib, the entire western flank of the militant defenses has collapsed. Unnamed Syrian army officers told Fars News yesterday that Khan Sheikhoun is seen as the “gateway” to Idlib city itself. Khan Sheikhoun’s importance is underscored by the fact that the M5 highway, which connects Aleppo city to Hama and Damascus runs through Khan Sheikhoun.

Once the Syrian army units closing on Khan Sheikhoun from the west meet those coming from the east, they will have succeeded in encircling an area of southern Idlib and northern Hama, cutting off the jihadis trapped inside from their supply lines. They’ll also be catching a Turkish observation post in Morek. The Turks will either have to self-evacuate by helicopter or get help from the Russian military, which is operating a humanitarian corridor just on the other side of the line of engagement. “Either way, the Syrian military has been looking for a way to force Turkey to abandon their observation posts and if this latest maneuver is successful, it might be deployed again in the near future,” Al Masdar reported.

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