Checkpoint Asia

Syrian Army Offensive on Idlib Al-Qaedastan Is a Go, Tigers Leading the Charge

Russian air force supporting the advance from above, first settlements have already been taken

Question is, do the Syrian forces have the authorization to drive back AQ as far as they can, or is this just a limited offensive that will avoid stepping on Turkish toes?

That Syrian-Russian offensive on jihadi-held “Greater Idlib” I told you looked like it was being prepared? It has now kicked off this morning. The first settlements and strategic hills have already been taken:

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:30 A.M.) – Minutes ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) began their long-awaited offensive in the southern countryside of the Idlib Governorate.

Led by the Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army stormed several points under the control of Jaysh Al-Izza and Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham near the Abu Dhuhour Crossing in southern Idlib.

Despite claims of new advances inside the Hama Governorate, a military source near the front-lines told Al-Masdar that no significant ground has been captured by the Syrian Arab Army.

The Syrian military is currently pounding the jihadist defenses near Qal’at Al-Madiq and Kafr Naboudeh.

In addition to the ground attack, the Russian Air Force is also launching several airstrikes across southern Idlib and northern Hama.

Question is do the Syrian forces have a “ticket to the end station” — authorization to push back al-Qaeda and friends as far back as they can, or will the Syrians-Russians again have to halt for political reasons? Eg so the Russians can appease Erdogan, or so Damascus doesn’t court more US cruise missiles? According to some sources the offensive only aims to take the 15-kilometer zone beyond the dividing line that according to the Russian-Turkish descalation agreement should have been cleared of heavy weapons and al-Qaeda (Tahrir al-Sham) but never was:

Despite some claims that the Syrian Army offensive will target the entire Idlib Governorate, a source from the military told Al-Masdar News this past week that the primary objective of this operation will be to expel all jihadist and rebel forces from the demilitarized zone area that stretches from the Al-Ghaab Plain to the Abu Dhuhour Crossing.

The Syrian military currently has no plans to expand past the demilitarized zone as this would require a much larger force and cooperation between Turkey and Russia.

Good places to follow the offensive in very close detail are Al Masdar, Muraselon, Syria Livemap and Syrian Civil War reddit.