On March 2, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) fighters continued their advance against the Syria’s Liberation Front (SLF) and recaptured the villages of Batabo, Kafr Nasih, al-Jinah, Babka and Ibin in the western Aleppo countryside, according to the HTS-linked news agency Iba’a.
HTS, indirectly backed by the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), launched its operation in the western Aleppo countryside on March 1 and managed to capture more than 17 villages and towns within the first 24 hours only.
Iba’a also reported that HTS fighters had imposed full control over the key town of Hizano in the northeastern Idlib countryside after days of clashes with SLF fighters. The civilians welcomed HTS fighters once they had entered the town according to the source.
In a related development, HTS withdrew from its infamous “al-Iqab” prison in al-Zawiyah Mount in the southern Idlib countryside after it had come under an attack by the SLF, according to a report of the Russian RT TV. Syrian opposition sources added that “Abu Huzifa al-Amni”, a general commander of HTS, had been killed during the clashes around the prison.
The fate of hundreds of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers and civilians imprisoned inside al-Iqab is unclear, according to opposition sources.
HTS will likely launch a attack on SLF positions in southern Idlib, once its operation in western Aleppo is over. Observers believe that the SLF will lose the battle in southern Idlib as its positions there are already besieged by HTS.