The Syrian regime has relocated several government departments, which serve the Idleb governorate, to the southern countryside city of Khan Shaykhun.
Mohammad Natuf, the regime’s Idleb governor, said that many districts have been moved from the Hama governorate to Khan Shaykhun. Natuf added that, within a week, the provincial building will be ready for the move.
Since May last year, the regime has begun to transform Khan Shaykhun into a center for the Idleb governorate. This has involved opening a Ba’ath Party headquarters, a provincial building, an additional district police station, as well as other official departments.
This development has several implications. The most prominent implication is at the military level, where the move can be interpreted as indicating the region’s stability in the coming period, as well as a lack of intent from Russia and the regime to advance on Idleb’s city center and control it.
The relocation of the governorate center to Khan Shaykhun certainly contributes to Russian propaganda advocating the return of displaced persons and refugees. Moscow is likely to promote this move to convey the message that conditions in regime-controlled areas since last year have stabilized and are ready for their residents to return.
At the same time, it is open to conclude that the regime’s relocation of Idleb governorate institutions to a rural city is an implicit recognition of the regime’s inability to launch a new military operation aimed at controlling the city’s only non-regime-controlled hub.
Syrian regime forces, backed by Russia and Iran, seized Khan Shaykhun on August 22, 2019, after an intensive ground and air bombing campaign. The attacks displaced more than 30,000 civilians from the area to safer regions along the Turkish border.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.