On February 4, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) and several groups of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a large-scale attack at positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) west of the town of Abu Duhur in the southeastern Idlib countryside.
The HTS-linked news agency Iba’a claimed that HTS and TIP fighters had managed to recapture the villages of Tell Sultan, Ras al-Ayn and Baris from the SAA. However, Syrian pro-government sources said that Ras al-Ayn and Baris had nevernever captured by the SAA in the first place.
From its side, sources close to the Tiger Forces said that several positions inside the village of Tell Sultan are still under the control of the SAA. The sources also reported that over 25 fighters of the TIP and HTS had been killed by the Tiger Forces around Tell Sultan.
Meanwhile, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted dozens of airstrikes against the vehicles and gatherings of the TIP and HTS in the southeastern Idlib countryside, according to pro-government sources. Over 30 fighters of the two radical groups were reportedly killed in a single Russian airstrike on Tell Tuqan north of Tell Sultan.
HTS and the TIP likely launched the new counter attack to take advantage of the SAA decision to halt its operation in Idlib governorate. The SAA took this decision in order to boost its operations against ISIS in the northeastern Hama countryside.
Photos of HTS and the TIP counter attack in southeastern Idlib: