Early on August 1, reports appeared that clashes erupted between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and militants in northern Latakia.
The clashes were reportedly accompanied by intense artillery strikes from the Syrian military. Most intense of them took place near the M4 highway.
Some pro-government media outlets claimed that this was the start of the long-expected SAA advance in the area, but this is unlikely. The Syrian military command still has to re-deploy its elite units from southwestern Syria to the area if it wants to take any kind of large-scale military actions. However, at least a limited military operation by the SAA in northern Latakia could be launched soon.
Recently, top Syrian officials have made a series of statements pointing out the province of Idlib as one of the main targets of the upcoming efforts of the SAA. This and the recent liberation of southwestern Syria created conditions for multiple speculations of the “large scale” SAA operation there which is about of being launched.
On the same time, Russian president’s special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev [he’s a chief Russian negotiator in the Astana talks format] said on July 31 that a large-scale operation to storm the city of Idlib is out of the question. Thus, if the operation is even launched soon, it will not have a goal of capturing the city of Idlib.