Armies wrestle over Sahl al- Ghab and Idlib pocket; captured soldier interviewed.

DW August 31

 

Territory east of Latakia remained in flux. Determined to hold Joureen, the government battles for dominance of al- Ghab plain. With armor and troops vulnerable in the flat expanse, loyalist forces maintained their focus on rebels entrenched in the Latakia highlands. Early Monday, they continued their attack into the mountains along the northwest edge of their lines.

The back and forth continued as Jaysh al- Fatah retook areas along the opposite side of the battlefield. News circulated that a Jabhat al- Nusra convoy now approached the area. Further southeast, opposition groups pressured the government north of Hama.

Along with the territory, opposition forces captured significant stashes of government equipment. As proof of their victory, rebel groups recorded tours of the captured areas.

Sham Legion in Msheek.

Meanwhile, a 48-hour truce for Fu’ah, Kefraya and Zabadani began on the morning of Thursday, Aug. 27.Hezbollah fighters spoke with besieged defenders during the ceasefire in Zabadani. The peace was later extended to 3 days. A previous attempt at a ceasefire collapsed when negotiations allegedly stuck on the point of forced population transfers. While some saw the negotiations as an attempt to lessen the killing, others perceived the forced relocation of civilians as ethnic cleansing.

Elsewhere in Idlib, the opposition attempted to storm the besieged government airbase of Abu al- Duhur.

SAA and NDF target militants around Abu al- Duhur Airbase.

Back at al- Ghab plain, fighting continued around Kherbet al- Naqous, a government position between the rebels and Joureen. A number of targets across Sahl al- Ghab and the northern Hama reportedly experienced air attacks. In Turkey a commander for the FSA group Suqour al- Ghab was assassinated by a bomb in Turkey. The group later released this statement.

On Friday opposition media checked in with Yusef Mohamed, a captured government soldier. Mohamed was already known among rebels for his appearing in a threatening image posted online. Sham Legion have held him since Aug. 19.

Captive soldier speaks with FSA correspondent Abu Bara. 

His ultimate fate remains unclear, full confirmation of death remains to be released. 

Kherbet al- Naqous, al- Mansoura and al- Qahera remained contested and subject to air raids. The negotiations for Fu’ah, Kafraya and Zabadani broke down once again, with each side blaming the other.

Ahrar al- Sham fires a rocket barrage at Fu’ah and Kafraya.

Kherbet al-Naqous, al-Mansoura and al-Qahera remain contested and subject to air raids. Fighting remains hot along the easternmost lines.

Following weeks of shelling, Jaysh al- Fatah launched an offensive into the Fu’ah/Kafraya pocket.

Grad rockets fired at Fu’ah and Kafraya.

Ahrar al-Sham rushes the government near al- Suweghiyah. 

Abu Bara reports from a berm on the front lines.

For background about the battle for Idlib and al- Ghab plain, check out last week’s writeup. (Links from August 17-24)

Likewise, read my writeup about the last failed Fu’ah, Kafraya, Zabidani ceasefire here. (Links from July 29 – August 17)

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