The bombing of Maarat al Noaman on Oct 19th highlights a significant shift in tactics for both sides of this conflict.
The town has been a target for rebel forces for some time, due to it's crucial strategic position on a major cross roads on the M5 highway, between Aleppo and Damascus, and they had only just taken it.
Facing a stalemate in the city of Aleppo, rebel groups have been attempting for some time, to cut off supplies arriving from Latakia and Damascus. Thereby placing considerable pressure on regime troops and increasing their odds in the city.
It had been thought that Assad might send reinforcements from Damascus to deal with this situation - (which would have weakened his grip there) but instead he chose to send jets and demolish it.
While this danger always existed, many thought he might be somewhat restrained in this region, as he sought to win back 'hearts and minds'. Instead it becomes clear that he has given up all hope of doing this, and at all costs will keep this supply line open.
It also places considerable pressure on the rebels, who must now deal with the repercussions of this horrific bomb. It remains to be seen if civilians will continue to stay behind the rebels, or whether perhaps they begin to wishing that things went back to how they once were.