Homs rebels bussed to Hama, Idlib; more gains for loyalists in Latakia

December 14

A ceasefire in Homs lead to the release of civilians and opposition fighters to Syria’s northwest provinces. Last Wednesday, 15 buses left the Waer neighborhood, Reuters wrote. The governor of Homs, Talal al- Barazi, reportedly said that 400 civilians family members of 300 fighters were on board. After stopping first in Hama, the convoy would continue to Idlib, al- Barazi is reported as saying.

Government and rebel factions directly negotiated the ceasefire and walkout and the United Nations helped mediate. Only rebels not wishing to abide the ceasefire left. They were permitted to take light weapons with them, according to al- Jazeera. The buses reached Idlib on Thursday, reported Reuters.

Fighters and their families prepare to leave Homs for opposition controlled areas. 

Some of the first Homs evacuees arrive in Qalaat al-Madiq, Hama

Early last week saw widespread airstrikes throughout Hama. Jets and helicopters struck targets in the north and east of the province. Fighting broke out around Ma’an, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights reported on Monday. The same day, FARS News wrote that government forces destroyed a detachment of opposition forces around Ma’an.

The Observatory released similar reports of bombing across Hama into Tuesday. They also told of an exchange 9 bodies to the government for prisoners, overseen by the Red Crescent.

صور لعملية تبادل 9 جثث لقتلى من قوات النظام والمسلحين الموالين لها، بخمسة معتقلين في سجون ومعتقلات قوات النظام، وذلك في بلدة المضيق بريف حماة الغربي

Posted by ‎المرصد السوري‎ on Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Report on Qomhana, north of Hama. 

Serious fighting broke out with ISIS in the countryside around Salamiyah, wrote SANA on Thursday. Loyalist troops took Umm Tuwaynah. They also reportedly engaged an ISIS convoy nearby.

ISIS stirred up trouble along these eastern roads several weeks ago, taking areas of the highway from the government. Given the logistical importance of the area in regards to Aleppo, loyalist forces made haste to clear the area once again.

NDF fighting ISIS in eastern Hama, around Salamiyah.

Fighting broke out around Umm Haratay, just east of Ma’an, SOHR wrote. Targets around Uqayribat reportedly received airstrikes and to the north, jets bombed Kafr Zita. The Observatory reported clashes around Tal Sakhr and the bombing of al- Lataminah.

The same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian Air Force provided air support for Western backed Free Syrian Army groups. The Associated Press noted that this would be an apparent shift in Russian policy. U.S. diplomats told AP that they couldn’t say whether the claims were true, only that most Russian strikes target rebels instead of ISIS.

Government forces shelled areas in Sahl al- Ghab, targeting al- Mansoura, al- Qarqour and al- Ziyarah, according to SOHR. The airstrikes reportedly kept up in both the north and east of the governorate.

Jund al- Aqsa took an aggressive stance in the northern countryside, launching attacks on Ma’sasineh, al- Buwayday, and Markabat, reported al- Masdar News. The rebels apparently controlled Ma’sasineh and al- Buwayday, but government reinforcements drove them out.

Jund al- Aqsa shells al- Buwayday

In Latakia, loyalist forces continued their push to retake the northern mountains, fighting to seal off the Turkish border. SOHR reported scattered clashes, airstrikes and shelling throughout the region.

The government seized Burj al- Qasab and Ikko, reported al- Masdar News on Tuesday. SOHR reported further clashes and bombardment throughout Jabal al- Akrad and Jabal al- Turkman.

The loyalists took Rweiset Ya’qoub by pushing from Katf Al Ziyarah, al- Masdar News wrote. This reportedly left only 10 km between government lines and the Turkish border with Jabal al- Turkman. SOHR continued to write of mountain clashes into the next day.

First Coastal Division fighting near Kafr Delbeh. 

10th Brigade shows off a defected government soldier. 

On Friday, Orient News reported a rebel attack on Berj Zahia and Otbora village. Scattered fighting and shelling continued in throughout the countryside, indicated SOHR.

Government troops captured Jabal Al-Koz, al- Masdar News reported. SOHR reported fighting around Jub al- Ahmar and airstrikes throughout the mountains.

Clashes went on around Ayn al- Jozeh, Kafr Debleh and al- Moghiriyyah, SOHR wrote. Widespread fighting and airstrikes continued into this week, according to SOHR

On Monday, warplanes hit Ma’arat al- Numan in Idlib, wrote SOHR. Few ground operations occur in rebel controlled Idlib since the ceasefire with Fu’ah and Kafraya. Syrian government and Russian air power dominate the skies, however. Targets such as Idlib city, Khan Sheikhoun and Jisr al- Shugour received bombardment throughout the week.

Shaykh Abdur Razzaq Mahdi in Idlib, Part 2. 

For background about Jaysh al- Fatah, check out last week’s writeup. (Links from December 7 – 13)

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

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