Hama route to Aleppo reopened, rebels take Morek.


Last Monday, loyalist forces advanced in the Ahad mountains to the east of Hama, wrote pro-government sources. The gains left ISIS with only 1 km of control along the highway, al- Masdar News wrote, with SAA command suggesting it could be opened as soon as Tuesday. While troops fighting for Damascus moved to secure the rest of the highway, ISIS pushed back from their base in Uqayribat, al- Masdar reported.

North of Hama, the government shelled al- Lataminah, Ma’arkabeh and Lahaya, wrote the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Fighting broke around Kafr Naboudeh, where the Observatory reported a government officer killed.

Violence erupted around Tal Othman the following day. Jaysh al- Fatah took the hill northwest of Hama from government forces, al- Masdar News confirmed.

Ahrar al- Sham moving on Tal Othman. 

Helicopters bombed Lataminah and Lahaya, while planes struck Kafr Zita, the Observatory reported. Both loyalist and rebel sources reported escalation in Morek, as well as widespread bombardment across the northern Hama countryside.

To the east, SAA, NDF, Liwaa al- Quds and Hezbollah pushed further along the highway, capturing oil pumps around Uqayribat, sources reported. Loyalist troops reportedly attacked ISIS at Ithriya Petrol Station northeast of town, securing the location.

On Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported ongoing fighting around Tal Othman. Bombing reportedly continued in al- Lataminah and Kafr Zita. Opposition forces advanced on Hamidi gas station west of Morek, the Observatory wrote. After losing control of points along the road leading into the west of town, government troops withdrew from Morek, al- Masdar News reported.

Jund al- Aqsa, FSA 505th regiment and Ajnad al- Sham reportedly took part in the assault. Government troops retreated to fortify Taybat al-Imam and Souran, al- Masdar News wrote. The report also said that government troops recaptured Tal Osman and al- Bani. SOHR said that rebels shot down a government pilot flying over Tal Othman, who likely died due to a parachute failure.

The same day, word spread that the Aleppo-Ithriya-Khanasser-Salamiyah highway returned to government control. FARS News reported bombing near Ithriya, as well as a wide range of other targets across Hama.

In the wake of recent violence, 123,842 people became displace this October in Syria’s Aleppo, Idlib and Hama governorates, according to UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

Jund al- Aqsa reportedly bombarded Morek while infantry fought to fend of a loyalist counterattack, the Observatory wrote. Air raids reportedly hit Morek as well as al-Latamnah, Latmin, Lahaya and Kafr Naboudeh. Opposition forces engaged the government at Souran, according to SOHR. Fighting also broke out in Atshan.

Orient News report from inside rebel-held Morek. 

After regrouping for one hour, government forces attacked Morek, wrote al- Masdar News. Under the cover of Russian helicopter gunships, they reportedly broke through the opposition’s perimeter and took positions on the southeast of town.

al- Masdar News later confirmed that the counterattack failed, and that rebel fighters still occupied the town. Furthermore, opposition forces made gains Tal Kukeek and Atshan. Once their positions were secured, the source predicted them to push on Souran and Taybat al- Imam.

Government forces had controlled Morek since October 2014. An activist source told ARA news that air power hit Morek as soon as rebels entered the town. Morek has changed hands multiple times in the war. It is largely ruins.

Capture of Morek announced over loudspeaker. 

The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces confirmed the recent rebel gains. They named Morek, Atshan, Janabra and Um Hartin to be out of government control.

Government forces recaptured al- Safaseh village in northwest Hama, FARS News reported . Airstrike also struck targets around Latmin and Morek, accoriding to the publication.

More ordinance hit Kafr Zita, al-Lataminah, Kafr Naboudeh and Tal Hawash, according to SOHR. They said fighting continued at Atshan, with Ajnad al- Sham advancing within the town. Opposition forces reportedly decapitated a government officer, the Observatory wrote.

Clashes also reportedly broke out around Kafr Naboudeh. Rebels continued their offensive, attacking Ma’an, wrote SOHR. Fighting in Atshan continued, they reported.

Jaysh al- Nasr TOW strike in northern Hama countryside 

Meanwhile in Sahl al- Ghab, government forces took Safsafa, north of Joureen, al- Masdar news reported. This was part of a government focus to jeopardize rebel control of Jisr al- Shugour, the source said. FARS News also wrote on these developments, plus reports of fighting aroud Atshan. Airstrikes reportedly hit al- Taman’aa, al- Lataminah and Kafr Zita.

Jabhat al- Nusra gained ground in Hama’s south, SOHR wrote. The government air force reportedly bombed Morek, now held by the rebels for two days. Airstrikes hit rebel positions in Tal Othman and al- Banh while helicopters bombed Morek and Lahaya, the Observatory wrote. Opposition forces engaged government forces at Ma’an.

Media activist struck by shell while interviewing fighter. 

Jund al- Aqsa release of their fight in Morek. 

In the northern province of Idlib, aerial bombardment is now a part of daily life. Opposition forces captured the region months ago. Even though Idlib is relatively free of front lines, air raids prevent any semblance of normal life there.

The Syrian Government and Russian air power stand accused of intentionally targeting civilian infrastructure. They deny these accusations, stating that they only pursue military targets. This is complicated by the fact that rebel commanders admitted to Voice of America that they hide within civilian populations to dilute the effectiveness of airstrikes.

Human Rights Watch documented the practice of detaining civilians in cages, and placing them strategically to deter bombardment. This was previously done by government troops trapped inside Fu’ah and Kafraya, which endured sustained shelling by rebel forces. Qasioun News accused the bombing camping of violating the ceasefire surrounding Fu’ah and Kafraya.

Russian airstrikes destroyed an arms warehouse on Ma’arat al- Numan. Jabhat al- Nusra, Russia Today reported On Thursday. Fighting broke out around Sukayk, after an attack on the surrounding heights, SOHR reported.

The next day, the Observatory reported airstrikes on al- Taman’aa, including links to images of the destruction. FARS News also reported the bombing of al- Tamana’aa.

On Saturday, SOHR reported bombing hit Saraqeb Ma’arrat al- Numan and Khan Shiekhoun.

As part of its claim to legitimacy, Jaysh al- Fatah aims to “implement the Sharia of Allah,” in areas it controls. The group released this promo for it’s Executive Force, which undertakes policing operations in their territory.

Executive Force, Jaysh al- Fatah

In Latakia, government forces stormed into Ghamam, wrote al- Masdar News. The attack reportedly routed opposition forces. SOHR reported fighting within  and around the town throughout the day. Later, al- Masdar News reported that loyalist forces withdrew from the town. Fighting around the town continued into the next day, according to the Observatory.


First Coastal fires TOW filmed through eyepiece. 

One Russian and one American pilot performed a communications test, reported the BBC, citing a Pentagon source. The intention was to avoid accidents of fighting between two of the air forces active in Syria. U.S. officials told Reuters that 4,000  Russian personnel are likely on the ground in Syria. This would be an increase from 2,000 when Russia’s air mission began on September 30, they said.

On Thursday, al- Masdar News reported government gains north of the Nabi Younis Mountains and in Villages north of Jub al- Ahmar. Loyalist forces had their eyes on Sirmaniyah, as part of their plan to move on Jisr al- Shughour.

Russian air power flew 81 sorties, hitting 263 targets the Russian Ministry of Defense told media on Thursday. SOHR reported shelling and fighting around Jabal al- Akrad.

On Thursday, fighting broke out in Ghamam. SOHR reported widespread fighting around Ghamam, Jub al- Ahmar and Nabi Younis peak. After receiving reinforcements from Jabal al- Akrad, government forces took Ghamam, al- Masdar News reported. Numerous accounts of bombardment and clashes across Jabal al- Akrad and Jabal al- Turkman were reported by SOHR.

Syrian school children are required to study foreign languages. They take mandatory English for their first language and French as a second, but many are now choosing Russian instead, reported Sputnik.

On Sunday, SOHR reported bombing around Jub al- Ahmar and Salma, along with scattered fighting across the Latakia Countryside


Government caterpillar hit.

NDF operations in Latakia

SANA reports inside Ghamam. 

For background about Jaysh al- Fatah, check out last week’s writeup. (Links from October 26 – November 1)

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

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