On January 10, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces launched their final assault to capture the Abu Duhur airbase in the eastern Idlib countryside. According to initial reports, the SAA attacked fortifications of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) inside the airbase from the southern, western and eastern directions, and captured serval positions inside it.
Earlier the SAA, backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces, captured the villages of al-Baiyaiyah, al-Dabshiyah, Zafr Sagheer, Zafr Kabeer, Bayaa Kabeera, Bayaa Sagheera, Um jorah, al-Buwyti, Rasm Ayed and Um Jareen south of the Abu Duhur airbase.
Later several Syrian opposition sources claimed that HTS launched a counter attack against the SAA around the Abu Duhur airbase and south of it. However, these claims were not confirmed by any official source.
Meanwhile, the ISIS-linked news agency surprisingly claimed that ISIS fighters attacked a position of the SAA south of the Abu Duhur airbase also. Amaq claimed that ISIS fighters killed three SAA soldiers and captured five others during the alleged attack.
If ISIS attack near the Abu Duhur airbase is confirmed, this will mean that HTS just handed over its positions in the northeastern Hama countryside and southwestern Aleppo countryside to the terrorist group in order to slow down the SAA. According to reports, in total, ISIS has up to 900 members operating in northeastern Hama and southern Idlib, most of them are defectors from HTS.
Such a maneuver by HTS and ISIS could slow the SAA advance in Idlib governorate for some limited time.