"Key formations of the Syrian Arab Army – many of them elite outfits – are gathering strength on the front-lines of northern Hama and western Aleppo in preparation for a massive operation to lift the siege on two key Shi’ite villages deep inside rebel-held Idlib Governorate.
According to reports, most of the Syrian Army’s elite Tiger Forces detachments, under the direct supervision of their top commander Suheil al-Hassan, have arrived in northern Hama Governorate.
At the same time, other first-rate Syrian Army formations (not specified) have arrived on the western Aleppo frontier.
The general understanding is that the Syrian Army will conduct a multi-prong offensive via both fronts with forces in the northern Hama attempting to reach the strategic town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib Governorate and those in western Aleppo advancing to lift the siege on two key Shi’ite towns – Fouaa and Kafriyah – located in central Idlib, just north of the provincial capital.
With the Syrian Army still rushing reinforcements to both Hama and Aleppo, the actual date for the commencement of this ambitious offensive against armed militant groups in Idlib is still not clear." AMN
Perhaps this reflects an elaborate deception plan carried out to distract attention from the east, perhaps.
OTOH, the plan reflected by indicators in this report would be devastating to the AQ affiliates (HTS primarily) in the province. Action needs to be taken soon. The jihadis have begun to probe the western approaches to Aleppo City and that must be decisevely ended so that a return to real life can continue in the city.
HTS has been moving forces north to confront a threatened Turkish advance into Idlib across the Hatay border supposedly in execution of the de-escalation agreement negotiated at Astana. Perhaps this Turkish build-up is part of the putative deception plan, perhaps.
If there is really to be a drive into Idlib Province it will be instructive to see if the US and Israelis try to help their little jihadi friends. pl