The R+6 is finding the jihadi infestation of Idlib to be a tough nut to crack. The SAA is adjusting tactics and operational plans accordingly. I bet some in the SAA now wish they struck right after they liberated Aleppo.
BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:45 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Armored Division has departed the northeastern countryside of Latakia after a 45-day-long battle at the key town of Kabani. According to a military source in Damascus, the 4th Armored Division, including most of their elite 42nd Brigade (Ghiath Forces), have been redeployed to the Kafr Naboudeh front in northwestern Hama.
The 4th Armored Division will reportedly take part in the Syrian Arab Army’s new push to secure Kafr Naboudeh’s eastern flank, which is currently exposed because the jihadist rebels control the imperative hilltop of Tal Sakher.
When asked if the battle for Kabani is over, the source said the high command has shifted their attention to northwestern Hama, where the Syrian Army is attempting to retake several sites in order to reopen the main road between Sqaylabiyeh and Mhardeh.
The majority of the Syrian military’s casualties during the battle of Kabani were from the National Defense Forces (NDF) and reconciled rebels.
For now, it appears that the battle for Kabani is over, which is a decisive victory for the jihadist rebels. If the jihadists lost Kabani, the Syrian Army would have a downhill battle to the key city of Jisr Al-Shughour in western Idlib. (AMN)
Since the Idlib Dawn offensive started in early May, the SAA has had to fight hard to gain and keep every inch of soil. But they fight wisely. They are not risking massive casualties to take or defend an objective. Proof of this lies in the ability of the 4th Armored Division to redeploy to Kafr Naboudeh after several weeks of failed attacks on Kabani. The SAA knows time is on their side. They are proceeding in a determined and methodical manner.
The jihadis, OTOH, are fighting desperately. They are still well manned, well armed and far from broken, but they are taking serious casualties resisting the SAA advances and especially in their repeated counterattacks. An effective SAA tactic is to retreat in the face of determined jihadi counterattacks and then unleash devastating artillery fire on the now concentrated jihadis.
The jihadis are not alone. Turkey is keeping them supplied with the latest anti-tank missiles and AA missiles. They are also facilitating the movement of jihadi reinforcements. I am curious to learn Moscow’s calculus in balancing their interests in Damascus with their interests in Ankara. “But is a puzzlement.”