Day two of the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS) major offensive in eastern part of Homs province concluded with some fresh gains for the aforementioned terrorist group.
Northeast of T-4 Airbase, ISIS terrorists managed to capture Al-Mahr, Jazzal and Jihar oil/gas fields after heavy clashes with National Defense Forces (NDF) units stationed in this area. Unable to withstand enemy’s onslaught NDF were forced to retreat to their reserve lines of defense. A source in NDF ranks told Al-Masdar News that the key reason for this setback were harsh weather conditions that had made it impossible for the air force to provide the ground troops with air support.
Meanwhile, on Palmyra axis, regular units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) along with Military Intelligence special forces were able to repel multiple ISIS attacks on their defensive positions near Palmyra silos. Also, approximately 2 km northeast of the silos SAA forces managed to eliminate at least 45 ISIS militants while also destroying 3 enemy tanks with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) in process.
On the other hand, government forces have lost about 100 fighters killed in action, and about 200 wounded. Another 30 soldiers are missing in action. Most of these casualties were suffered by the NDF.
After being absent from the battle on Thursday due to weather conditions, Russian Air Force’s attack helicopters and Syrian Arab Air Force’s fighter jets renewed their combat sorties on Friday targeting ISIS positions and gatherings in the aforementioned oil fields. Several armoured vehicles along with a number of technical vehicles were reportedly destroyed as a result of airstrikes.
An SAA source also informed Al-Masdar News that new reinfrocements had arrived to the area to prevent ISIS from any further advance and to prepare for a counterattack which is expected to start soon. The source added that Palmyra road is still safe with clashes currently ongoing approximately 15 km away of it. Moreover, according to his information, Palmyra city itself is safe and well protected by SAA units entrenched in the mountains surrounding the city, while ISIS does not have enough manpower to storm Palmyra.
Making things more complicated for ISIS, Turkish-backed islamist groups are storming Al-Bab city in Aleppo province, while Syrian Democratic Forces renewed their Raqqa offensive. This prevents the terrorist group from sending more reinforcements to eastern Homs front forcing them to keep their reserves in the north.