Syrian Army launches counter-offensive in Hama

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Fort Russ – 6th January, 2016

Al Masdar News

Moments ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) recaptured the village of Tell Mantana and the Ma’an-Ashtan checkpoint in northern Hama after a surprise offensive was launched from the SAA stronghold of Ma’an.

Meanwhile, local Islamist militants loyal to Jund al-Aqsa (an al-Qaeda affiliated rebel group) have hastily retreated to the village of Ashtan.

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Heavy clashes are reportedly ongoing in the area.

In early November 2015, government troops were forced to retreat from the strategic town of Morek – in fact, the seasoned 555th Brigade was entirely re-stationed to Khannaser to combat ISIS fighters who had cut the government supply line to Aleppo.

Simultaneously, Islamist rebels of Jaish al-Fateh and Jund al-Aqsa launched an offensive in northern Hama which had them seize control of Morek whilst securing a buffer zone around the town.

Strategically, the SAA is now set to launch a wide-scale offensive towards southern Idlib. Meanwhile, government troops at both flanks of Idlib, in Lattakia and southern Aleppo respectively, have made huge gains over the past months. Thereby, Jaish al-Fatah now has itself exposed along 3 fronts in Idlib.

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