The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces and tribal forces, backed up by the Russian Aerospace Forces, have liberated Al-Dakhilah, Bir Al-Sabkhawi, and Al-Sabkhawi from ISIS terrorists in the southern countryside of Raqqah and, according to pro-government sources, reached the Euphrates River and cut off the Al-Bukamal-Aleppo highway.
Thus, the army and its allies repeated the al-Bab-style operation when they built a buffer zone in order to stop a possible Turkish advance into central Syria. Control over the Al-Bukamal-Aleppo highway prevents a possible US-led operation in the direction of Deir Ezzor from the area of Raqqah.
On Sunday, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) got a full control over the city of Idlib after capturing the remaining HQs and checkpoints of Ahrar al-Sham in the area. The HTS faced little resistance and Ahrar al-Sham members withdrew from the city after a series of firefights. Meanwhile, a VBIED attack killed 13 HTS members and injured dozens at the Al-Zira’a roundabout in Idlib. It’s not yet known whether ISIS or Ahrar al-Sham was behind the attack. ISIS may seek to fuel tensions among Idlib militants in order to expand own influence in the province.
Since the start of the ongoing intra-militant clashes, HTS has the entire Syrian-Turkish border line in the Idlib province and the city of Idlib. At least 19 armed groups have defected from Ahrar al-Sham and 15 of them have joined HTS. The al-Qaeda linked group has always been a de-facto leader of the so-called Idlib opposition. However, now it’s closer than ever to a full military and political dominance in the province.
On Sunday, another truce was implemented in the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus. The truce had been negotiated between the government and local militants in the Egyptian capital of Cairo and was backed up by Russia. Clashes continued only in areas of Ayn Tarma and Jobar mostly controlled by HTS and allied units.
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*All posts on behalf of South Front are made by Gordon Duff