Late on December 21, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) captured the town of Qatrah in southeastern Idlib following heavy clashes with al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies.
The town is located only 4km to the northeast of the Turkish military’s main observation post in southeast Idlib. The post was established in the outskirt of the town of al-Surman in February of last year.
According to pro-government activists, the SAA is now bracing to besiege Turkish troops inside al-Surman’s post if they refuse to withdraw. Earlier this year, a Turkish post in northern Hama was besieged for the same reason.
During the day, the army captured the towns of Umm Tinah, al-Ruffaha, Harran, Sarja Gharbuya, al-Sayyadi, Mudayisat and the key hilltop of Tell Damm. The army also repelled a counter-attack by HTS.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), at least 87 militants of HTS and its allies have been killed since the beginning of the SAA large-scale operation in southeast Idlib two days ago.