BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:00 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is currently on the offensive in the northwestern countryside of Hama; however, it does not appear that they will be pushing all the way to Idlib during this operation.
Instead, a source from the Syrian military told Al-Masdar this morning that the armed forces have plans to clear the western and southern countrysides of Aleppo before making any push towards Idlib.
According to the source, the Syrian military wants to clear the western, northwestern, and southern outskirts of Aleppo city and expel all of the jihaidst groups that have conintuously attacked Syria’s economic capital and its one-million-plus population.
In particular, the Syrian Arab Army is first eyeing the Scientific Research area and Al-Zahra’a Association Quarter; these two areas have a large presence of jihadist and Turkish-backed rebels.
Once these areas are cleared, the Syrian Army will shift their attention to the outskirts of the city, where jihadist groups in Al-Mansoura, Kafr Hamra, Dart Izza, Khan Al-Assal, and Rashideen 4 and 5 are constantly launching attacks from.
The source did not say whether or not the Syrian military would push to Saraqib city, which is a militant stronghold near the Aleppo Governorate border.
While Saraqib is not under Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham control, it is a major city along the Aleppo-Latakia Highway. To capture it will be difficult because the Turkish military currently has an observation post in the area and the local population favors the rebel groups.
For these reasons and many more, the Syrian military will not likely make any push to capture Saraqib at this time.
Similar to the northwestern Hama offensive, this operation in Aleppo will likely be limited and focused on securing Aleppo city, rather than making any significant push into Idlib.
It seems the Syrian military’s primary objective is to completely isolate the Idlib Governorate so that the militants can no longer travel back-and-forth to neighboring governorates like Aleppo.