On May 25, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), the Turkistan Islamic Party and their allies repelled another Syrian Arab Army (SAA) attack on their positions near the town of Kbani in northern Lattakia. The continued clashes in the area fuel speculations that the SAA may focus its main offensive efforts in this region after the recent setback in northwestern Hama.
According to both pro-government and pro-militant sources sources, the town of Kbani is an important point in the militants’ defense in the area. Its vicinity has been repeatedly used by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other groups to launch rockets at targets deep inside the government-controlled area.
In the event of the large-scale push to capture Kbani, it may include the following phases:
- to isolate the south slope of Jabal Zuwayqat;
- to seize Jabal Zuwayqat’s hilltop;
- to seize Zuwayqat hamlet and Ridge 1120;
- to seize Kbani and Barzah hilltops.
At the first stage, the SAA will try to capture Point 1110 and Point 1115 to establish fire control of the southern perimeter of Jabal Zuwayqat.
Then, SAA units will likely work to secure of Jabal Zuwayqat’s hilltop using the previously gained points and nearby area. The key part of this effort will be to establish control and clear high points surrounding the area.
The control over Jabal Zuwayqat will allow the SAA to get fire control of Kbani, the Zuwayqat hamlet and Ridge 1120. Using this situation, SAA artillery and fire support units will work to destroy militant fortifications near Kbani.
Then, the SAA will launch a final push to capture the town of Kbani.
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