On Thursday, the promised Jaysh al- Fatah offensive kicked off in Hama. Loyalist al- Masdar News anticipated an attack on Kafr Naboudeh, reasoning it’s proximity to Mhardeh. The opposition friendly Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported shelling and aerial bombardment across an array of villages, plus engagements in Hamamiyat checkpoint, Morek and the countryside of Sahl al- Ghab.
— Abu In Sham (@abuchair1) October 22, 2015
Early report on Hama offensive.
Liwa Suqour al- Jabal targets government near al- Mansoura.
— Khaled AL Homsi (@PalmyraPioneer) October 22, 2015
53 Russian takeoffs hit 72 targets, reported Russia Today. Russian officials attributed any bump in efficiency to increased knowledge of the Syrian landscape and denied allegations of cluster bombing in populated areas.
SOHR reported widespread ground fighting between government and opposition forces. Loyalists shelled al- Zyarah, Kafr Naboudeh, al- Qahera, al- Diqmaq, al- Mansoura, and Tal Wassit, with engagements in al- Hamra. Heavy fighting broke out around Zalin, Markaba, Lehaya and Morek, with both sides shelling each other in addition to government airpower, the Observatory wrote. Violence continued on the ground while jets attacked Kafr Zita, according to SOHR.
— F1ea1337 (@F1ea1337) October 23, 2015
6th Brigade moves into Markabah.
Rebel tanks storm Lahaya.
A tour of opposition controlled Lahaya.
To Hama’s east, simultaneous rebel and ISIS attacks cut the highway east of Sa’en and north of Ithriya respectively. The move threatened the government’s artery into Aleppo, where opposition, loyalist and ISIS territory is deeply entangled.
— IUCA (@IUCAnalysts) October 23, 2015
Al-Masdar News acknowledged the loss of Markabah and Lahaya from the previous day. SOHR reported Lahaya bombed soon after rebels captured it, along with continuous fighting in northern Hama throughout the day. Planes bombed a rebel field hospital in Lataminah, they wrote. Fighting and bombardment reportedly continued in these areas into Sunday.
Loyalist sources reported victories and successful airstrikes around Lataminah, including the killing of rebel commanders and destruction of opposition bases. Authorities in Hama captured stockpiles of weapons and ammunition from a Damascus-bound bus and basements in the area, SANA wrote.
Early Monday morning, al- Masdar News wrote that government ground troops retook checkpoints along the road to Aleppo. Neither Syrian nor Russian air power was available, but infantry dispatched from Ithriyah cleared the road once again, according to al- Masdar News. With reports of a sandstorm inbound, all military operations ceased.
Rebels train new fighters in northern Hama.
In Latakia, fighting continued around Kafr Delbeh, Jub al-Ahmar and Ain al-Joza, SOHR reported. Bombing took place around Jabal al-Turkman, Jabal- al Akrad and Jub al- Ahmar, the Observatory wrote. With fighting ongoing around Kafr Delbeh, more air raids reportedly targeted Salma.
Nataional Defense Forces video of TOS-1A being used in Latakia
Russian TV shows drones targeting rebels in Latakia
9К111 Fagot ATGM hits government position
Ansar al- Sham engages government troops.
Meanwhile, Sputnik reported plans to expand the seaport and airport in Latakia.
— Hassan Ridha (@sayed_ridha) October 25, 2015
Pro-rebel Twitter user makes sectarian threats.
— Hassan Ridha (@sayed_ridha) October 25, 2015
1st Coastal Division TOW strike around Mount Durin
Government forces on the attack.
Russian footage of Syrian special forces training.
In the south of Idlib, SOHR wrote of a heavy helicopter assault on al- Taman’aa. Planes targeted a hospital in Sermin, the Observatory reported. The Telegraph backed up the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, publishing reports that jets double tapped bombing sites in order to hit emergency responders. Maria Zakharova of the Russian Foreign Ministry denied these claims, calling the accusations a “smear campaign.”
Despite the bombings, the shaky ground truce holds steady enough to allow schools in rebel-held areas to open.
Truce deal opens up Binnish’s schools
The sharia court in Idlib addressed a rising drug industry, as marijuana cultivation in the area appears to grow, Syria Direct reported. Ahmad al-Alawan of the court told Syria Direct that punishments range from imprisonment to capital punishment, depending on the severity of the crime. Citizens in Kafr Nabl also implored their local police to return to work, wrote Syria Direct. The police were reportedly shut down by Jabhat al- Nusra three months ago and have not worked since the hard-line Islamist group’s takeover in the region.
Shelling and bomb strikes continued across a wide array of targets in Idlib, reported SOHR. According to the Observatory, an IED reached al- Alani with a “massive explosion.” The Syrian army hit a Jaysh al- Fatah convoy outside of Khan Sheikhoun, wrote FARSnews. The outlet also reported the deaths of three senior Jabhat al- Nusra commanders, naming them Abu Zubayr al- Sham, Abu Dujana al- Ansari and Abu al- Nasir al- Jazrawi.
The bombardment of al- Taman’aa continued through Saturday and Sunday, according to SOHR. A hit and run raid between rebel factions occurred in Mare’, with SOHR reporting suspicion of Jabhat al- Nusra.
— Sakir Khader (@sakirkhader) October 24, 2015
For background about Jaysh al- Fatah, check out last week’s writeup. (Links from September October 13 – 21)
Start at the beginning with my fall of Idlib post. (Links from 2011 – Summer 2015)