Turkey has given the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Russian military group in Syria green light to capture the militant-held city of Jisr al-Shughur in the northwestern Idlib countryside and the militant-held al-Ghaab Plain in the northwestern Hama countryside, the Iranian news agency Fars reported on April 7.
According to the news agency, the decision regarding Jisr al-Shughur and the al-Ghaab Plain was made upon during a meeting between Russian and Turkish military delegations on April 6.
Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) captured Jisr al-Shughur on May 1, 2015. Few days after capturing the city, HTS kicked out the locals and replaced them with fighters of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) and the Chechen Junud al-Sham.
Now, Jisr al-Shughur and the al-Ghaab Plain are the heartland of the TIP, Junud al-Sham and many other foreign Jihadi groups that are linked to al-Qaeda or ISIS. These two areas have been used as a foothold for attacks against the Russian Aerospace Force’s base in Hmeimim with Grad rockets and armed drones on many occasions previously.
Due to these threats, Syrian experts believe that securing Jisr al-Shughur and the al-Ghaab Plain is essential for securing the Syrian coast and Hama governorate. However, it is not clear yet when the SAA will be ready to launch a military operation in the area.