The Syrian Army is reportedly making final preparations for a ground offensive against militant groups in north Syria, namely in rebel-held parts of the Idlib, Hama and Aleppo regions – despite the fact that past assaults were called-off, this time an operation appears imminent.
According to leaked media information released at the semi-official level (i.e. through known Syrian field reporters’ social media accounts), Syrian Army tanks, artillery and assault troops are moving to their final jumping-off points across the Idlib frontier.
Leaks point towards a “limited” operation that will take place within the space of the Idlib buffer zone itself (rather than an all-out attack to neutralize militant groups in north Syria as a whole).
The offensive will supposedly be aimed at neutralizing the offensive potential of jihadist groups and other armed rebel factions within the 15-20 kilometre de-escalation zone which they were meant to have retreated from over one month ago per the Sochi agreement.
Sources are saying that this neutralization of offensive potential will involve locating and destroying militant heavy weapon sites, command centres and arms depots. The use of airpower and artillery alone has been deemed incapable of achieving this task, so actual ground forces are to be sent in.
Militant groups have repeatedly violated the ceasefire regime in northern Syria in addition to not withdrawing as was agreed at Sochi. On Friday, this culminated in the killing of over 24 Syrian by jihadist rebels who launched a raid against government lines in northwestern countryside of Hama province.
Having vowed to avenge Friday’s attack, the Syrian Army now appears to be gearing up to make good on that promise.