Continuing last week’s offensive, the SAA and allies took Zuwayk village on Sunday, November 22, al- Masdar News wrote. The loyalists have been capitalizing on their boosted air power by launching offensives, namely in Latakia and south Aleppo. To ensure the long term safety of the coast, government forces must contain the opposition in Latakia and seal off the border with Turkey.
— Agathocle deSyracuse (@deSyracuse) November 23, 2015
Fighting went on throughout the day in areas surrounding Jub al- Ahmar, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights wrote Monday. SOHR relayed early reports that government forces advanced in Katf al- Ghanmah, southwest of Jub al- Ahmar. The gains were later reported by al- Masdar News.
On Tuesday, the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that an SU-24 went down on the Syrian side of the Turkish border. The report maintained that the aircraft flew only within Syria. Turkish officials took responsibility for shooting down the plane, which they alleged to have violated Turkish airspace.
The crew successfully ejected from the falling jet. SAA special forces rescued one of the airmen in a night operation 4.5 km into opposition territory, according to SANA. Opposition forces recovered the other pilot, Oleg Peshkov, dead and posed with his body. Turkish officials took custody of his remains on Sunday, wrote Reuters. Syrian and Russian diplomats called the strike a breach of Syrian sovereignty and accused Turkey of supporting terrorist organizations.
— Green lemon (@green_lemonnn) November 24, 2015
On the ground, fighting continued around the Sheikh Mohammad Mountains and Jub al- Ahmar, al- Masdar News wrote. SANA announced government control of Katf al- Ghaddar, al-Malouheh, al- Sheikh Mohammad hills, Height 1281.5 and al-Mirkashliyeh.
NDF operations in the region.
A rebel TOW team scored a hit on a landed Russian helicopter, which reportedly landed near Kafaria. The Russian Ministry of Defense said they were searching for the downed pilots when they took fire and had to perform an emergency landing. The ordeal killed one Russian marine.
1st Coastal Division targets stationary helicopter.
Jabhat al- Nusra fighting around Jabal al- Turkman
On Wednesday, government troops began an offensive around Jabal al- Nuba and Kafaria, al- Masdar News reported. They also reportedly recovered Jabal al- Zahiya from the opposition. This reflected a change in focus from Jabal al- Turkman to Jabal al- Akrad, the report read. Following the downed jet, airstrikes reportedly increased considerably. Russia Today flexed the presence of the Moskva, a cruiser equipped with long-range surface to air missiles that is stationed at the Latakia coast.
— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) November 26, 2015
The government took Jabal al- Zahiya and al- Etyra, SOHR reported. Ongoing fighting in Jabal al- Nuba accompanied widespread airstrikes and shelling across the province, the Observatory wrote.
Government forces fight in Latakia highlands.
On Thursday, loyalist forces struck Katf Ghaddar and Kabani, al- Masdar News reported. Meanwhile at Hmaymim Airfield, Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems deployed in response to Turkey. This equipment is only operated by the Russian military, SANA clarified.
Russian Ministry of Defense video showing S-400 AA systems at Hmeymim airbase.
Abu Hamza hits government truck with TOW.
The fight for Jabal Zahiya reportedly continued late into the week. Amid continuing heavy airstrikes, opposition forces destroyed a government cannon with a TOW near Jub al- Ahmar, the Observatory reported. Scattered fighting continued throughout the province, according to SOHR.
Turkman rebels of the 2nd Coastal Division battle for Burj al- Zahi top.
Russian airstrikes hit Rabia as ground forces pushed onward from their recent acquisition of Deir Hanna, wrote al- Masdar News. Government forces reportedly took control of several areas including Jabal al- Nuba. The battle for Jabal Zahiya continued fiercely, the report read. This morning, Sputnik reported Syrian troops surrounded Salma.
SAA advances under Russian air support.
For background about Jaysh al- Fatah, check out last week’s writeup. (Links from November 16 – 22)
Start at the beginning with my fall of Idlib post. (Links from 2011 – Summer 2015)