On Wednesday morning, the Syrian Arab Army's 87th Brigade of the 10th Tank Division - in coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF), the 106th Brigade of the Republican Guard and platoons from the 7th and 9th Divisions - launched a large-scale offensive in the northern Hama towns of Kafr Naboudat, Morek, Qala'at Al-Madayq, Ahaya, Al-Mughayr, Latmeen, Al-Lataminah, Kafr Zita, and Markabat; this is the first major operation in this province since the summer of 2014.
Leading the way into Al-Mughayr, Ahaya, and Markabat was the Syrian Arab Army's 87th Brigade; this contingent has announced the capture of the aforementioned towns after fierce clashes with the Islamist rebel forces earlier this morning.
Following the capture of Al-Mughayr, Ahaya, Markabat, the Syrian Armed Forces stormed the towns of Morek, Qala'at Madayq, Latmeen, Al-Lataminah, Kafr Naboudat, and Kafr Zita, where they are currently engaging the Islamist rebels in a series of intense firefights for control.
The primary objective of this offensive is to seal off the northern Hama border with Idlib and build a buffer-zone around the imperative city of Khan Sheikhoun; if they do so, they will be able to concentrate on the remaining pockets in the Hama Governorate that are under the control of the Islamist rebel forces.
Khan Sheikhoun is strategically located on the imperative Aleppo-Latakia Highway (M-4 Highway); it was lost last spring during a large Islamist offensive that forced the Syrian Army to withdraw to the northern Hama city of Mhardeh.