More than 10 days have passed since the Syrian Army announced the resumption of military operations against rebel factions in Idlib, the remaining rebel bastion in the north. The army’s decision followed a futile attempt to maintain a truce that lasted for five days between the contested parties amidst mutual accusations of the agreement’s violation. The agreement, which was brokered in Kazakhstan at the end of July, stipulated a ceasefire in Idlib during which Turkey and Russia would guarantee the implementation of the Sochi Deal of 2018.
While implementing the Sochi Deal doesn’t appear within reach, the adversaries today are engaged in heavy confrontations in which the Russian Air Force is aiding its Syrian ally. Territorial changes appear to be shifting in the Syrian Army’s favor as it continues its crawl in Idlib’s southern suburbs. The army regained control over the strategic villages and towns of Skek, al-Hobeit, Kafr Ein, Tell 'Aas, Zaytuneh, Madaya and Kherbet Abdin as it continues its advancements towards the city of Khan Shaykhoun. Yet territorial advancements came at a very high human cost. According to reports, around 60 fighters from both sides lost their lives and the number of displaced stands nearly at 400,000 people based on the United Nations estimates. Human loses are expected to increase as the army appears determinant to regain control over northeastern Syria.
Rebel factions launched a counter-offensive in their struggle to halt the progress of the Syrian Army. The counter-offensive involved two suicide bombers targeting the army's defense lines followed by armed engagements attempting to regain the lost territory. The army managed to deter the rebel’s mission and maintained its territorial progress, leaving casualties and destroyed vehicles behind. However, the rebels managed to shoot down a Russian-made Sukhoi fighter operated by the Syrian Army. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham claimed responsibility for the Sukhoi fighter but didn’t explain how it was brought down. Lastly, the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front stated that it will send reinforcements to the support the rebels on the front against the Syrian Army.