The following update is from Ibrahim Mohammad, a former SAA soldier based in Aleppo:
Large areas have been liberated and a new Turkish point is under siege. This post is a bit long but it’s important to understand the current situation so please read carefully and do not hesitate to ask about any details.
After the last significant achievement of the Syrian Arab Army on 03-Feb-2020 when the 25th brigade forces managed to cut off the western supply road to Saraqeb city which links to Ariha city. They liberated Al-Turneya and Al-Nairab towns, and are now around 8 km from Idlib city where the families of the Uzbeks, Uighurs and Turkestans began evacuation according to local sources.
Given the army’s current situation on the map, securing the two sides of the forces that advanced north has become a great necessity. This pushed the forces to start working on the sides of their deployment in preparation for the surrounding of Saraqeb city before final liberation.
The importance of the city is that it’s the transportation node that links the M4 and M5 highways and links both to Aleppo(Map 1 above)
It has been noticeable that the army is not yet fully operational in the southern and western countryside of Aleppo. This makes it clear that the liberation of Idlib’s countryside is currently more important because it has been the main supply source for Al-Nusra Front militants in last few years, and while it’s a sure thing that we will see operations in other directions according to circumstances and the field’s developments, it’s also very obvious that the forces deployed in Aleppo and its countryside are waiting for the troops that are advancing from the south to reach a certain point in order to start their full field operations.
This confirms that the striking force has not yet engaged the field of operations in Aleppo, which will surely witness a decisive battle soon. It must be known that the operational troops there have managed to liberate around 40 sq km in the last few days by taking control of Khan Touman, 5th Rashdeen, Qala’ajyeh among several towns and hills in the southwestern countryside of Aleppo and the Journalists association buildings in the west outskirts of the city (Map 2)
Only yesterday 04-Feb-2020 the SAA liberated around 170 sq km that contained more than 20 towns and hills in the southeastern countryside of Idlib (Tal Mardikh, Ebla castle, Tal Rihan, Tawil Al-Halib, Parisa, Hammadat, Umm Al-Sharshouh, Mantar Al-Khashakheesh, Tal Al-Raqem, Tal Al-Wasitta, Jabal Tawil, the abandoned Battalion, Al-Msherfeh, Tawil Al-Sheikh, Al-Shouha, Ras Al-Ain, Tal Ferdos, Ballissa, Tal Aghar, and Tal Sultan) in addition to Kador and Ruiha towns in the southwestern countryside and the farms that lies in between.
This makes the full liberated area in Idilb countryside since the 20th of January 2020 around 660 sq km and puts a new Turkish observation point under siege (Map 3), noting that the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces announced the liberation of 320 sq km less than two months ago .
In light of the last Turkish assault which was directly retaliated against, some important points must be known to everyone.
First, we all must know that Turkey as a country is desperate for power resources, and that was one of the main reasons that pushed Erdogan to go this far in this war where he trapped himself in a very sticky situation. He can’t withdraw nor can he actually advance. A main part of the Turkish economy depends on the Russian and Iranian gas and oil. Erdogan has terrorists groups that are being pushed towards his borders and due to his deceit and dishonesty he couldn’t reach to any defensive agreement about the Kurds east to the Euphrates.
Second, it’s very clear that this operation won’t likely stop until the complete securing of the international roads that links Aleppo with Damascus M5 and Lattakia M4. This is basically impossible without taking control of Al-Eis hill, Toqan hill, and the towns along the road from Khan Al-Asal, Kafr Joum, Zerbeh, Kafar Halab between Aleppo and Saraqeb towards Afes and Sarmeen to the north. Then Ariha, Jisr Al-Shughour cities west of Saraqeb on the M4 highway noting that it’s impossible to secure Ariha without taking control of Arbaeen mountain which is the same case with Jisr Al-Shughour and Kabaneh hills in the northeastern countryside of Lattakia which would be the hardest part of the operations considering the nature of that area and the well trained terrorists deployed there. (Map 4)
The Syrian Ministry of Defense stated yesterday that the Turkish forces will be responded to in case they attack the Syrian forces in Idlib countryside, while a military sources said (read the following link)