Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) are preparing to launch a large-scale attack on government-held areas in the western countryside of Aleppo, Syrian activists revealed on June 4.
The two factions control the northwestern region of Greater Idlib, which includes a small part of the western Aleppo countryside.
According to the activists, HTS and the NFL are massing their forces near the main frontline with government-held areas in the western Aleppo countryside. The main targets of the attack will be the towns of Kabtan al-Jabal and Anjara as well as the 46th Regiment base.
The participation of the NFL indicate that the attack may be backed by Turkey, whose military deployed pre-built fortifications near the western Aleppo countryside on June 4.
The attack itself could be meant to support the Turkish military upcoming operation in the northern Aleppo countryside. The operation will reportedly target the towns of Tell Rifaat and Manbij, which are held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
A large-scale attack by HTS and the NFL in the western Aleppo countryside would distract the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and prevent it from providing support to the SDF in the governorate’s northern countryside.
Any such attack would be blatant violation of the ceasefire in Greater Idlib, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey more than two years ago.
The SAA and its allies, mainly Iranian-backed forces, maintain a strong presence in the western Aleppo countryside. With support from the Russian Aerospace Forces, the army should be able to repel any attack by HTS and the NFL. However, such an attack would hinder the army’s ability to provide meaningful support to the SDF.