On March 1, members of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) continued their advance in the western Aleppo countryside and captured the strategic Regiment 46 military base from the Syrian Liberation Front (SLF), according to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The SOHR said that HTS had recaptured 17 towns and villages from the SLF during the last 24 hours.
هيئة تحرير الشام تسيطر على الفوج 46، ريف المهندسين 2 و عدد من المناطق انسحبت منها مؤخرا بريف حلب الغربي مع انسحاب جبهة تحرير سوريا دون قتال pic.twitter.com/8psg0XWhhL
— Hassan Ridha (@sayed_ridha) March 1, 2018
The SOHR also said that the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) is participating in the ongoing attacks of HTS in northern Idlib and western Aleppo. Previously, several Syrian opposition activists claimed that the TIP is attacking the SLF. However, the HTS-linked news agency Iba’a denied all of these claims.
Meanwhile, pro-SLF sources said that HTS had begun its attack on the key city of al-Atarib northwest of the Regiment 46 military base in western Aleppo. Al-Atarib is one of the main strongholds of the SLF. If HTS captures the city, it will likely force the newly formed group to retreat all the way back to its positions around the city of Aleppo, according to observers.
The SLF is yet to take any measures to counter HTS’ advance in northern Idlib and western Aleppo. This indicates that HTS counter-attacks were a surprise for the SLF leaders, who might have thought they had won the battle.