Al-Masdar News breaking news, August 19, 2019:
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:10 AM Syria Time) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched their long-awaited operation to capture the key city of Khan Sheikhoun from the jihadist rebels in southern idlib last night.
Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian Arab Army reportedly entered the western sector of Khan Sheikhoun this morning after a fierce firefight with the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham.
According to a military source in nearby Hama, the Syrian Arab Army has been steadily advancing at the western and northwestern axes of Khan Sheikhoun, despite facing heavy resistance from the jihadist forces.
Should the Syrian Army succeed in taking control of Khan Sheikhoun, this would be a major blow to the jihadist forces in southern Idlib, as the city itself serves as a key point along their supply route from Idlib city.
At the same time, the jihadist rebels have sent a large number of reinforcements to the southern countryside of the Idlib Governorate to help defend the city and this region.
Among the reinforcements were several units from the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF), who were previously deployed to the Afrin region in the northwestern countryside of the Aleppo Governorate.
See also: "Massive convoy of Turkish-backed rebels head to southern Idlib to fight the Syrian Army;" AMN, August 19, 8:30 AM Syria Time.