Since commencing a new ground offensive in Idlib on Thursday, the Syrian Army has scored a mammoth advance across the province’s southeastern countryside with opposing militant groups being sent chaotically staggering backwards towards the strategic M5 Highway.
Over the course of late Saturday afternoon to Sunday, the Syrian Army has taken control of another ten towns, villages and hamlets via a two-axis advance.
All up, over 20 settlements have been reclaimed by government forces from Islamist groups since the ground operation in Idlib began about four days ago (see high-definition map below).
In an immediate strategic sense, it would seem that the Syrian Army’s goal is to not only reach the M5 Highway, but also take an important jihadist-controlled population center that sits on it just to the north of Khan Sheykhun (liberated by government forces in late summer of this year) – the city of Murrat al-Numan.
Another factor worth considering is a Turkish observation base located near the small town of Surman which the Syrian Army is now within a few kilometers of.
In all probability, this site will be surrounded, the Turkish army personnel stationed at it left alone and its immediate vicinity left to the responsibility of Russian military police forces – just as was witnessed with the Turkish post at the town of Murak a few months ago.
Islamist militant losses due to airstrikes, artillery shellings and clashes with the Syrian Army are high.
According to the latest report provided by field sources in contact with Muraselon News, nearly 180 insurgent fighters have been killed during the last one hundred hours of Syrian Army ground operations in southeast Idlib.
HD map available here.