Loyalists creep in Latakia; Waer rebels head to Hama, Idlib

December 7

Last Monday, rebels in Hama Governorate attacked to the south and east of Morek. They moved on Ma’an, Souran, al- Tanya and al- Buwada, according to al- Masdar News. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported clashes around al- Buwada.

Claims that the government retained their possessions appeared to stick. Airstrikes hit Lataminah, Ma’arkabeh and Lahaya, SOHR reported.

Jaysh al- Nasr fighting around Ma’an. 

Fighting continued around Ma’an into the next day. According to al- Masdar News, loyalist forces ambushed a detachment of Jund al- Aqsa forces outside of Morek and turned them back from an assault on Ma’an. SOHR reported fighting around Souran and airstrikes on Ma’arkabeh and Lahaya.

In Sahl al- Ghab, government forces shelled al- Ziyarah, Tal Wassit, al- Qahera and al- Hamidiyya, the Observatory wrote. al- Lataminah and Qastal also reportedly took shelling.

SOHR went on to report bombing around al- Qahera, al- Mansoura, Tal Wassit and other areas amid a government push in Sahl al- Ghab. In the countryside north of Hama, airstrikes hit Morek, al- Lataminah, Lahaya and al- Zakat, according to the Observatory.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders received invitations to a meeting in Saudi Arabia to prepare for future diplomatic talks. The goal of the meetings is reportedly to develop a more unified voice for the opposition, according to al- Jazeera. They also reportedly hope to decide on one platform to present during the Vienna talks in January.

The Associated Press named Jaysh al- Islam and Ahrar al- Sham to be among the attendees. The meeting is scheduled for December 8 through 10, Reuters wrote.

On Friday, government forces attacked Ahrar al- Sham in Kafr Zita and Morek, according to FARS News. The report made no claims of control over the towns, but tallied 29 militants killed. No word on government casualties. Nearby, bombs fell on Kafr Zita and al- Lataminah, according to the Observatory.

Widespread reports of airstrikes continued through the weekend, naming locations from al- Qahera in Sahl al- Ghab, to the usual targets north of Hama to Uqayribat in the eastern countryside. On Sunday, FARS News reported another rebel attempt on Ma’an, which appeared to be repelled.

In Latakia, fighting continued amongst all factions throughout the countryside.

Ahrar al- Sham sends reinforcements to Jabal al- Akrad.

The next day, loyalist sources declared the capture of Arafit. al- Masdar News also reported government control over of Kaft al- Salat and Jabal Kashkar. Kabani and Ikko stand among the government’s next targets, according to al- Masdar News.

SOHR corroborated the government gains and reported that opposition forces targeted the Hmeymim  airfield in Jableh with Grad rockets. Amid mutual shelling, fighting continued around Jub al- Ahmar and the rest of the Latakia countryside, the Observatory wrote. Vague reports continued of fighting in the northern countryside into the next day.

Report on government operations in northeast Latakia.

On Thursday, government forces pushed north to Katf al- Ghadder, according to al- Masdar News. Taking the village would contribute to the government’s goal of taking Salma, al- Masdar News wrote. SOHR reported scattered clashes around the northern countryside. The 1st Coastal Division fought with government forces around Jabal Nabi Younis, the Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office reported.

NDF promo on their fight for Latakia. 

Katf al- Ghadder remained hot into the next day, according to al- Masdar news,. Government forces also reportedly took possession of Katf al- Ziyarah in Jabal al- Akrad. Airstrikes hit Salma, Rabia and other locations in the mountains, according to SOHR. Fighting also continued in Arafit into the weekend, wrote the Observatory.

During all this, fashion week goes on in Latakia city.

On Monday, some Islamic factions in Idlib banned the use of makeup by women in Ma’arat al- Numan, in accordance with their religious doctrine.

Government forces destroyed a column of opposition supply trucks crossing through the Bab al- Salem border crossing, headed toward al- Dana, according to FARS News.

Jabhat al- Nusra beheaded two people with knives for allegedly cooperating with Jaysh al- Thuwar, reported SOHR. The two groups previously clashed north of Aleppo. This comes as no suprise, as Jabhat al- Nusra is the official al- Qaeda affiliate in Syria and Jaysh al- Thuwar belongs to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF. The SDF also includes the YPG, YPJ, Burkan al-Firat, Liwa Thuwar al- Raqqa and other opposition factions.

Al- Jazeera reported the bombing of a market in Ariha, south of Idlib. The publication’s sources said 44 people died in the bombing, but they cited SOHR at 60 or more. Jaysh al- Fatah has controlled Aria since this past May.

SOHR reported an assassination attempt on a rebel leader on the road between Idlib and Aleppo. Clashes and airstrikes lit up across the region, according to the Observatory.

Rebels not wishing to stick around for the ceasefire in Waer, Homs may be arriving in Idlib or Hama soon, Syria Direct wrote. The Waer deal could begin the process of lifting the siege. More than 90,000 people are trapped, and have been for two years according to Syria Direct.

An anonymous source told AFP that Syrian and Russian forces began training two weeks ago for fighting in Idlib. Even if untrue, this report indicates the next priority for Damascus if they achieve their current objectives in Latakia and Hama.

On the Ground News gets some opinions from Idlib city residents on British airstrikes. 

The rest of the week saw consistently heavy airstrikes and bombardment across Idlib. al- Taman’aa, Ma’arat al- Numan, Khan Sheikhoun, Jisr al- Shugour and other locations all reportedly took ordinance.

On Sunday, the Waer deal reportedly began to materialize.

For background about Jaysh al- Fatah, check out last week’s writeup. (Links from November 30 –December 6)

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

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