Thursday has witnessed various rebel factions in Idlib province, most of them hardline jihadist groups, combined forces to launch a powerful counter-offensive against the Syrian Arab Army and drive back its threatening advance throughout the region.
Within a few hours of starting their assault, armed rebel groups managed to capture five towns and villages – these being Al-Mushrayifah, Ard az-Zurzur, Khuwayn, Atshan and Umm al-Khalakhil.
However, in addition to the fact that the Syrian Arab Army has already retaken Khuwayn, the jihadist militias participating in the counter-offensive have already endured terrible losses among their ranks.
Since Thursday morning, at least four high-ranking militant field commanders have been killed across southeast Idlib due to clashes with pro-government forces, all are from different armed rebel groups.
The commanders have been identified as Qassura Al-Ghabi (of Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham), Hassan Abu Khadejah (of Faylaq al-Sham), Abu Saif Kafr Auwaid (of Ahrar al-Sham) and Ibrahim al-Aliyan (of Jaysh al-Nasr).
Another major blow delivered to militant ranks came after an Ahrar al-Sham assault group walked into a trap set up by elite Syrian troops near Atshan and Khuwayn with many dozens of its fighters getting killed and wounded as a result.
At the present time, the Syrian Army is counter-attacking militant groups at the town of Atshan with the aim of recapturing it and all the other settlements seized by rebel fighters earlier in the day.