The Syrian Army has begun to unleash the heaviest artillery weapons in its arsenal against militant positions and gatherings across Idlib province's southern countryside.
During recent days, Syrian Army artillery forces - supported to a smaller degree by airstrikes - have been attacking militant sites, movements and rally points in and around towns and villages on both sides of the M-5 Highway south of Murat al-Numan.
Among the array of howitzers and rocket launchers being used by the Syrian Army in southern Idlib is the BM-30 'Smerch' heavy multiple-launch rocket system (or MLRS).
The weapon has a firing range of up to ninety (90) kilometers and can deliver a quarter metric ton payload including conventional high-explosive, thermobaric (fuel-air), shaped-charge (HEAT) or cluster sub-munitions warhead types.
An individual BM-30 weapon system carries 12 pre-loaded rockets, the salvo of which can be launched in just over half-a-minute.
It is unknown just how many BM-30s the Syrian Army has in its arsenal; however, its usage in southern Idlib may be an indication that a major operation is coming given that this very strategic asset is normally only deployed during such scenarios.