On February 28, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) launched a new attack to recapture the strategic Atme crossing on the Syrian-Turkish border in the northeastern Idlib countryside from the Syria’s Liberation Front (SLF). HTS fighters withdrew from the town of Atme and the nearby border crossing few days ago after an attack by the SLF.
So far, HTS fighters has been able to recaptured the villages of Kafr Sulin, Aqrabat, Deir Hassan and Salwah around Atme, according to the HTS-linked news agency Iba’a. The agency said that HTS fighters had captured several SLF fighters and had shot down two drones.
Meanwhile, an unnamed security official in HTS told Iba’a that HTS fighters had repelled a large attack of the SLF on their positions in the town of al-Dana in northern Idlib. HTS fighters damaged a battle tank, destroyed a vehicle and captured five other vehicles of the SLF, according the official.
HTS withdrew from western Aleppo on February 27 in a move, which was viewed as a major victory for the newly formed SLF. However, an unnamed source of HTS revealed to the Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi that the armed group had withdrawn from the area to “avoid bloodshed” and stressed that the SLF’s attack will be repelled.
If HTS manages to recapture the Atme crossing, it may launch a larger operation against the SLF in western Aleppo to eliminate the newly formed group in its heartland.