Heavy bombardments, government pushes hard in Hama

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Residents fled Kafr Nabudah in Hama last Monday. Allegedly, government forces threatened to “erase” the town if certain terms were not complied with. Regardless of who threatened whom, the violence expected around al- Lataminah, Kafr Nabudah and Khan Sheikhoun provided reason enough to run.

Residents flee Kafr Nabudah.

Air raids occurred across rebel held Hama and Sahl al- Ghab, wrote the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Warplanes struck al- Latamnah and Kafar Zita in Hama. In Sahl al- Ghab, al- Mansoura and al- Qahera were also hit, according to the Observatory. Ashavin and al- Lataminah experienced barrel bombs and shelling.

Heavy bombardment of al- Latmenah, north of Hama. 

Reports indicated that Russian personnel and equipment flowed into Hama. Pro-government media previously claimed the influx was a part of humanitarian relief efforts, but a US defense official told NBC the movements included artillery and ground forces. In response to accusations of civilian casualties, Russian Defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov stated the Russian Air Force does not operate in residential or historic areas, SANA said.

FARS News Agency reported that Russian air power struck ISIS  in Raqqa, Hama and Aleppo on Monday. A training camp in Kassra al- Sheikh was claimed hit – as were targets around Deir Hafer Highway near Kweires Airbase, wrote al- Masdar News. Munitions for US trained Liwa Suqour al- Jabal were among the targets, the group’s commander told Reuters.

The influx of Russian equipment is noticeable in the skies of Syria, where the jets of Syria, Russia, and coalition nations all crowd. Russian jets violated Turkish airspace on October 3, leading U.S. officials to condemn the act. Russia maintains the trespass was unintentional, but NATO allies Turkey and the United States are unhappy with the development.

On Wednesday, the SAA offensive began. Russian missiles launched from the Caspian Sea were intended for ISIS, wrote the Telegraph. The Guardian reported Russian airstrikes from al- Latmenah all the way north to Khan Sheikhoun, plus Kafr Nabudah. The offensive seeks to thwart the rebel salient reaching toward Hama and help secure the connecting strip between Damascus and the coast.

An SAA force of armor and infantry attacked following the raid. The advance met challenges from rebel ATGM crews, who made the battlefield dangerous for tanks and armored vehicles. Pro-rebel National Syrian Coalition claimed heavy losses on the government side, and that rebel leaders were planning a rebuttal.

Abu Bara tours rebel  fronts north of Hama,   

FSA rebels pose with T-72 tank, Hama. 

The same day, SANA reported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval of the Syria operations so far. SANA noted Putin’s desire to see the US share intelligence on ISIS, and his interest in cooperation as a means to defeat terrorism.

The Russian Ministry of Defense reportedly hit 27 targets overnight. ISIS camps given included Homs, Hama and Raqqa. The ministry also claimed to have bombed underground rebel hideouts in Salma and Arafit.  In addition to jet aircraft, Russian helicopters hovered above Syria.

To the northwest, Sahl al- Ghab saw widespread bombardment, with word of fighting in Tal Wassit al- Bahsa in Sahl al- Ghab. SOHR also reported shelling in Ziyara and Tal Wassit. The SAA claimed ownership of al- Bahsa on Friday and Saturday.

SOHR also reported fighting in Tal Sakher, Ma’an, Morek, Tiabat al- Imamin and Atshan north of Hama. Rebel group Ahrar al- Sham proclaimed to target al-Suqaylabiyah with Grad rockets.

Rebels destroy government armor advancing toward Kafr Nabudah. 

al- Masdar news reported easy initial wins against FSA Liwa Suqour al- Ghab and 101st Brigade in the hilltops surrounding the towns. Equipment and personnel losses caused a push on Kafr Nabudah and Atshan to halt, the pro-government source said. Additional airstrikes arrived the next day to assist the offensive. Russian helicopter gunships moved in, reportedly doing great damage to rebel forces across the defending towns.

Local council of Kafr Nabudah records Russian gunships on the attack.

Government infantry follow up. 

Jabhat al- Nusra defense near Ma’an.

Liwa Fursan al- Haqq destroys two tanks north of Hama

Another heavy bombardment. 

The violence raised questions about the fate of the Fu’ah/Kafraya, Zabadani ceasefire negotiated two weeks ago. Reuters reported that ceasefires were holding on the local level, but feared the deals would collapse of fighting spilled into Idlib Governorate. In the city of Idlib, residents voiced their disapproval of Russia’s actions.

Demonstration against Russian intervention in Idlib. 

Additional fighting broke out in Atshan. The next day, Syrian state media claimed control of the town, with al- Jazeera agreeing with the development. Both loyalist and opposition media reported heavy air strikes and helicopter support across Hama and Latakia. Early this morning, al- Masdar News reported that government forces requested airstrikes on Kafr Naboudeh.

All this while, scattered fighting occurred in the mountains of Latakia to the northwest. Rebels and government forces shoved back and forth over positions around Jabal al- Turkman and Jabal al- Akrad. Government forces pushed on Jubb al- Ahmar on the southeast side of the mountain. The town would become subject to repeated assaults and bombings. Clashes were also reported in Durin, further west. On Friday, the NDF proclaimed control of Kafr Dulbah, east of Salma. On Saturday, al- Masdar reported that the capture of strategic towns overlooking Salma put the rebels garrisoned there in danger. Fighting continued in the mountains.

NDF Latakia countryside report.

NDF claim the hills around Jub al- Ahmar.

NDF report from Salma, Latakia. 

More fighting in Salma. 

Armored vehicle barely avoids rebel missile. 

Monday 12, October, SOHR reported fighting between rebels and government forces inKafr Dulbah, Salma and Durin. They claimed the rebels held the upper hand in Durin with losses on both sides in Kafr Dulbah.

Pro-government sources announced an assault on Kafr Naboudeh. al- Masdar News reported that government forces called airstrikes on the town. Later, loyalist sources reported full control soon after.

Rebel groups pushed back, with fighting occurring around and within Kafr Naboudeh, plus more nearby areas. Then opposition sources began claiming victory of the ground. Later on, pro-government sources would concede the defeat.

Clashes between rebels and government forces inside Kafr Naboudeh.

Liwa Fursan al- Haqq destroys a tank. 

Sham Legion celebrates control of Kafr Naboudeh. 

Heavy shelling of Kafr Naboudeh.

Rebels claim captured munitions. 

SANA claimed control of Kafr Nabouda, Atshan, Qubeibat, Maarakaba, Oum Harten, Sekik, Tal Sekik, Tal al- Sakher, al- Bahsa, and listed strikes across Hama, Latakia and Aleppo. Another report by the state news agency claimed al-Mansoura captured and clarified that the SAA had reached the southern roundabout of Kafr Nabouda.

A counter attack by rebels forced the SAA and NDF out of town, al- Masdar wrote. Helicopters then reentered the area, the report continued.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights corroborated the order of events. Counting 40 airstrikes on Kafr Nobouda, SOHR reported heavy air raids in Kafr Zita, Aqayrabat, al- Mansoura and Tal Wassit. They also acknowledged government control in Atshan.

For background about Jaysh al- Fatah, check out last week’s writeup. (Links from September 28 – October 5)

Start at the beginning with my fall of Idlib post. (Links from 2011 – Summer 2015)

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