JN and the FSA-affiliated Southern Front continue to make significant gains in Dera’a Province, seizing several military installations north of Sheikh Miskin and threatening to sever the regime supply line to Dera’a city.
The U.S. conducted a second round of strikes against "Khorasan Group" targets in Northwestern Idlib province, reportedly killing a number of JN and Ahrar al-Sham fighters that appeared to have been collocated with the "Khorasan" targets.
Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) seized large swaths of the Jabal al-Zawiya area of southern Idlib Province (in northwest Syria bordering Turkey) from Free Syrian Army (FSA)-affiliated groups beginning in late October 2014 (see fig. 1). JN, the official al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, began to carve out direct territorial control in Idlib Province beginning in July 2014, and its advance in southern Idlib has considerably extended its stronghold in the province.
An ISIS offensive against regime military bases and infrastructure in eastern Homs province appears targeted to relieve pressure on ISIS in Deir ez-Zour by disrupting the regime’s supply lines to Deir ez-Zour city through eastern Homs Province.
On August 28, JN and rebel forces seized control of the Golan Heights border crossing with Israel in Quneitra province.
The regime’s seizure of Morek is a significant setback for rebel forces seeking to maintain the disruption of the regime’s preferred supply line to Aleppo north from Hama along the M5 highway.
Rebel gains in southern Syria and efforts to sever regime supply routes north and south of Damascus indicate that the regime has lost momentum in the capital region. Rebel alliances show greater cohesion in this zone, as well a greater cooperation with Jabhat al-Nusra, while the regime is showing signs of severe manpower shortage. The regime is attempting to fill its ranks with new conscripts and reservists. The regime will likely need to reinforce its southern front in order to reverse rebel gains, though it is likely that the regime will need to sacrifice efforts elsewhere in order to provide sufficient support.
Regime forces appear to be suffering from a heightened manpower shortage.
An assassination campaign against rebel commanders appears to have emerged in western Syria, with at least 12 assassination attempts since the beginning of September 2014.
Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) continues attempts to consolidate control in northern Syria, although its willingness to submit to Shari’a adjudication with other rebel factions in Idlib indicates this may not come at the expense of its relationships with rebel groups.