On January 14, the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria – Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) – and its allies recaptured the villages of Atshan, Tell Maraq, Umm Khalakhil, Zifr Saqer, Zif Kabir, Suruj, Istablat and Rasm al-Qard in the southeastern Idlib countryside from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), according to the HTS-lined Iba’a news agency.
Syrian pro-government activists confirmed HTS advance, and reported that Russian warplanes conducted dozens of airstrikes against HTS fighters and vehicles in the southeastern Idlib countryside to slow down its advance.
From its side, the Hezbollah media wing in Syria announced that the SAA killed 28 fighters of HTS and its allies during the last few hours and over 90 other fighters in the last four days.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Tiger Forces and Lebanese Hezbollah deployed several elite units between Sinjar town and Abu Dali village in the southeastern Idlib countryside to repel the HTS counter-attack according to pro-government sources. HTS attempts to besiege the SAA units deployed south of the Abu Duhur airbase in eastern Idlib.