DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:35 P.M.) – On Friday morning, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions based in the Golan Heights launched an assault on the government-held town of Hader amid a wider bid to reach and break the siege of the nearby Beit Jinn opposition pocket.
With direct artillery support from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), jihadist fighters attacked the predominately Druze town of Hader from its western and northern axes at daybreak; although the clashes themselves are yet to halt, HTS has broken through the first line of defense set up by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and National Defence Forces (NDF).
So far, at least two HTS suicide bombings have struck the outskirts of the town while rebel forces have captured the entire rural area directly west of Hader, thereby establishing a narrow corridor through to the Beit Jinn pocket which no longer is under siege.
Sadly, many civilians were trapped in the initial crossfire while others were caught up by the impact of the car bombings. Before noon, a total of six civilians in Hader were confirmed dead while over 20 non-combattants had sustained injuries.
Over noon however, the SAA and NDF regrouped for a swift counter-attack which had government forces retake the Al-Waseet point. Operations are also underway to restore control of the Al-Harrah and Qasr Al-Nafl hills, a military source told Al-Masdar News moments ago.
Syrian choppers are swarming the area as we speak while Syrian troops are rushing to reinforce Hader and expand a buffer zone around the western gates of the town.
The HTS-led offensive is seen as direct response to a SAA offensive on the Beit Jinn pocket earlier this week. A map depicting the advance, published by HTS itself, can be seen here: