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The Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jund Al-Aqsa” (Jabhat Al-Nusra affiliate) has launched a massive offensive to capture the imperative village of Ma’an in the Hama Governorate’s northern countryside after weeks of inactivity along this strategic front on the Aleppo-Damascus Highway (M-5 Highway).

On Saturday evening in the Hama Governorate’s northern countryside, the Islamist rebels of Jund Al-Aqsa – alongside a number of Islamist allies – stormed the Syrian Arab Army’s defenses outside the village of Ma’an, capturing the Al-Khaymat and Al-Shathat checkpoints after a violent battle along the Aleppo-Damascus Highway.

According to a military source from the Syrian Arab Army’s 87th Brigade of the 11th Tank Division, the Al-Khaymat and Al-Shathat checkpoints were under the control of Jund Al-Aqsa three weeks ago; however, the Syrian Armed Forces were able to recover these checkpoints after a small-scale assault.

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Should the Islamist rebels of Jund Al-Aqsa capture the village of Ma’an, they will be in position to strike several large villages under the Syrian Government’s control en route to the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate.

The village of Ma’an is an Alawi village that was captured by the Islamist rebels in the Spring of 2014 – the population was massacred by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in what is highly regarded as a sectarian crime.

Not long after losing Ma’an in the Spring of 2014, the Syrian Armed Forces were able to recapture the village and have held it since.

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