When ‘the capital of the Syrian revolution’ Homs fell in 2014, many expected the insurgency in the northern countryside of the province to quickly collapse. However, for the past 18 months the frontline has remained largely static.

While airstrikes do sporadically target Islamist hideouts in northern Homs, rebel fighters of Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) have also raided several villages en route to the government stronghold of Salamiyah.

Nevertheless, the ceasefire in Homs province is mostly holding. This also explains the largely stalemate situation the governorate has witnessed in 2015 and 2016.

But how come the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is unable to capture the remaining rebel-held areas in Homs?

Well for starters, the surrender of Homs city in 2014 included the evacuation of some 1200 rebel militants from the provincial capital to the northern countryside of the province, thus bolstering insurgent defences and moral there.

Furthermore, ISIS fighters invaded many villages in eastern Homs & Hama in late 2014, thereby forcing government troops to redeploy to the eastern flank of this region.

Currently, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are more present in the western Homs pocket while extremist forces such as the al-Nusra Front have transformed the eastern cities of ar-Rastan and Talbisah into Islamist strongholds.

Moreover, these two insurgent-held regions are de facto cut off from each other due to SAA fire control between Tasnin and Az-Zarah.

Meanwhile, neither side inside Homs governorate seems to have sufficient manpower to advance, with government forces mostly relying on local National Defence Forces (NDF) to uphold the siege on the rebel pocket while many regular SAA troops have been deployed to other regions such as Palmyra, Qaryatayn and Aleppo.

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Nevertheless, the SAA Military High Command is expected to initiate operations that look to reclaim the rebel-held enclave in northern Homs.

This is largely due to logistical considerations as ar-Rastan and Talbiseh are geographically placed along the Damascus-Aleppo Highway, thus complicating the transport of supplies and government redeployments.

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Student currently living in Denmark. Special focus on news from Syria, MENA map-making and strategical military analysis.

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J. Rehmani
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J. Rehmani

From where has the extremist Nusra getting its military/food/fuel, etc. supplies from when the Tabliseh-Rastan pocket has been cut-off from other anti-government groups areas for such a long time? Certainly, they are not getting their materials from air. Does not make sense that this pocket, which sits on the Damascus-Aleppo highway has not yet been overwhelmed by government forces. Inexplicable.

daeshit sucks
Guest
daeshit sucks

tunnels?

Bleipriester
Guest
Bleipriester

Article suggests FSA is not extremist. Of course they are the democratic revolution and only ally with al-Nusra because they have nothing else to do….

Joe
Guest
Joe

G*****n Tlass family…