Late on December 23, al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) foiled an infiltration attempt by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the north countryside of Lattakia in the Greater Idlib region.
According to opposition sources, HTS fighter shelled a group of SAA soldiers that attempted to infiltrate the frontline near the town of Ain Issa in the Turkmen Mount, forcing it to retreat. Later, heavy clashes broke out between the SAA and HTS in the area. However, no casualties were reported.
The SAA has not conducted a single raid in Greater Idlib for nearly a year now, which makes these claims highly questionable.
For the past week, the situation in Greater Idlib has been calm. The ceasefire in the region, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey on 5 March 2020, was violated on very few occasions in the last few days.
Now however, HTS and its allies in Greater Idlib are apparently planning to escalate against the SAA once again. The army will likely respond.
It’s worth mentioning that HTS, the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib, faced much criticism from the local population recently over the deteriorating humanitarian conditions and economic situation in the region. This was likely the only reason behind the group’s decision to respect the ceasefire over the past week.