Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) recaptured al-Katibat al-Mahjura in southeast Idlib from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in a surprise attack early on December 11.
The attack was carried out the terrorist group’s Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Army and the special forces unit, known as the “Red Bands.” Army units were pushed out of the position within a few hours. No heavy clashes were reported.
Al-Katibat al-Mahjura [the abandoned base in Arabic] is a former Syrian Arab Air Defense Forces (SyAADF) base, which overlooks HTS-held Umm al-Tinah. The army captured the base last week.
HTS’s news network, Iba’a, claimed that the SAA made a failed attempt to recapture al-Katibat al-Mahjura in the afternoon. However, these claims have not been verified, so far.
A source in HTS told Iba’a that the attack on al-Katibat al-Mahjura was a response to remarks by Russia’s Foreign Minister, who said a day earlier that Idlib should be liberated from terrorists. The terrorist group is exploiting the Russian-Turkish brokered ceasefire to consolidate its own influence in Greater Idlib.