On December 17, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) captured the village of Mashrifa in the southern Idlib countryside, according to pro-government sources. Thus, the SAA and its allies are now deployed within only 3km of the strategic Abu Dali village north of Mashrifa.
Syrian oppositions sources reported that Russian warplanes conducted several airstrikes on the towns of Kafr Zita and al-Lataminah in the southern Idlib countrysideand on the town of Khan Shaykhun in the southern Idlib countryside.
N. #Hama: intense #Russia|n airstrikes on KafrZita-Lataminah after Rebels opened new front to relieve pressure elsewhere. Video shows aftermath of incendiary raid. https://t.co/sCbvxuMs24 pic.twitter.com/JEfLp7VaOH
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) December 17, 2017
Meanwhile, the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) group Jaysh al-Izza launched a counter attack on positions of the SAA in the areas of Zilaqiat and Zilen in the northern Hama countryside. Jaysh a-Izza claimed that its fighters captured Zilaqiat during the attack. However, pro government activists said that the SAA is still repelling Jaysh al-Izza attack in Zilaqiat and Zilen.
Opening a third front in the northern Hama countryside against the SAA, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies only increase the pressure on themselves. A similar tactic was followed by HTS during the Aleppo battle in 2016 and it led to the collapse of HTS and its allies around and inside the city.