Jaysh al- Fatah offensive begins, stubborn fighting across fronts

JaF Oct 26

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.

Early report on Hama offensive. 

Liwa Suqour al- Jabal targets government near al- Mansoura. 

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.

FARS News reported successful airstrikes in Eqeirbat on Friday. SAA troops attacked an ISIS convoy near Um Hadij in East Hama, destroying 23 vehicles and killing 45, wrote pro-government sources.

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.

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.

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.

Loyalist forces took the heights overlooking Salma, according to al- Masdar News. State media outlet SANA reported that government offensives in the region have killed 300 opposition fighters.

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.

Government forces bombarded Salma, with ground fighting also occurring, according to SOHR. Fighting continued into Sunday around Kafr Delbeh, Jub al- Ahmar and Durin, they wrote.

Latakia FSA beheading crop

Pro-rebel Twitter user makes sectarian threats. 

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.

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)

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