Moments ago, the National Defense Forces (NDF) withdrew from the village of Markabah in the northern Hama countryside after intense firefights with Jaysh Al-Islam (Army of Conquest) this evening.
The village of Markabah was originally under bombardment by the Islamist rebel fighters from the Free Syrian Army and Ajnad Al-Sham; however, the National Defense Forces (NDF) were able to beat back the assault and maintain full control over the area.
Despite their failures earlier in the day, the Islamist rebel factions that make-up Jaysh Al-Fateh in northern Hama launched another assault on the villages of Lahaya and Markabah in order to weaken the National Defense Forces’ frontline positions; this proved successful, as the pro-government forces were unable to maintain their ground.
Preliminary reports from the village of Lahaya seem to indicate that the National Defense Forces are preparing to withdraw from there as well; however, there has been no official confirmation from the Syrian Armed Forces.
These two villages in northern Hama are strategically located to the west of Souran and Taybat Al-Imam – two cities that were originally contested by the Islamist rebel forces before the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) northern Hama offensive last week.
According to a military source inside the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate, the National Defense Forces and Islamist rebels are exchanging mortar shells in the northern countryside, but there is no fighter jets or helicopter gunships anywhere in the vicinity of these clashes.
*Update (11:47 P.M. Damascus Time): Jaysh Al-Fateh has captured Lahaya*