DAMASCUS, SYRIA (21:10 P.M.) – Moments ago, it was confirmed to Al-Masdar News that Islamist factions led by Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) have recaptured Maardes in rural Hama after the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) withdrew to points on the perimeter of the town.
Maardes was otherwise liberated by the Tiger Forces yesterday as the latter even entered the southern and eastern suburbs of neighbouring rebel-held Souran last night before encountering the localised insurgent counter-attack.
Notably, the initial HTS assault on Maardes was foiled by government forces on Tuesday around noon. However, a new wave of afternoon attacks proved too much for the SAA to handle after intense skirmishes that lasted more than 9 hours.
According to Al-Masdar News field correspondent Ibrahim Joudeh, it is virtually impossible to keep control of Maardes without seizing the neighbouring town of Souran which enjoys fire control over Maardes.
HTS claimed some 50 SAA soldiers were killed and two tanks destroyed amid the jihadist counter-offensive. This could not be independently verified by Al-Masdar News.
However, the SAA might recapture Maardes within hours as the low ground of the exposed town makes it unsuitable for fortifications and trenches.
Photos of HTS’s elite Inghimasis militants heading to Maardes on Tuesday morning. Three Al-Qaeda inspired HTS suicide bombings hit the town earlier today:
HTS drones also captured the exact moment SAA contingents, led by commander-in-chief Suheil Al-Hassan, decided to pull out of Maardes earlier today: