The Syrian Army has scored another series of tactical successes in the southeastern countryside of Idlib, capitalizing on gains made yesterday via a two-axis advance towards the strategic M5 Highway.
Following the advance of the last two days, the Syrian Army has, in the last twelve hours, managed to take control of the villages of Ar-Raffa, Tal Dam (including its corresponding hilltop), As-Sayyadi and As-Saraj.
A field source speaking to Muraselon News also confirmed that jihadist forces belonging to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS; formerly called Jabat al-Nusra) - an Al-Qaeda affiliate group - were pushed to abandon the heavily fortified village of Umm Tinah (a location they had stubbornly held on to in the preceding two weeks), the settlement since coming under government control.
On Friday afternoon, HTS militants attempted a counter-attack operation to drive advancing Syrian Army forces out of Ar-Raffa before government troops could establish defenses around the village.
The counter-attack by HTS involved the use of a suicide car bomb (SVBIED), however, it was to no avail, with vanguard Syrian Army units near Ar-Raffa being able to repel the jihadist operation and secure the village for the time being.
It is worth noting that the SVBIED attack on government forces in Ar-Raffa represents the first to have taken place since the Syrian Army begun its new Idlib ground offensive some three days ago.
In the past, HTS and other jihadist groups would often begin using such weapons within the first hours of a government operation taking place and often multiple attacks (sometimes up to ten) would occur within the first couple of days.
The lack of SVBIED attacks so far is likely proof as to the weakened state of militant groups in the region who are now not only lacking heavy weapons (tanks and artillery) but also volunteers for their so-called 'martyrdom operations'.
HD map available here.