At approximately 1:45 A.M. (Damascus Time) on Thursday morning, the Al-Qaeda linked rebel factions “Jund Al-Aqsa” and “Jabhat Al-Nusra” launched a massive offensive in the northern countryside of the Hama Governorate, targeting 4 recently reconciled villages near the strategic town of Ma’an.
According to an Al-Masdar correspondent in Damascus City, Jund Al-Aqsa and Jabhat Al-Nusra struck the Syrian Arab Army’s defenses at the villages of Hifsin, Qarah, Taybat Al-Ism, and Umm Haratayn, resulting in a fierce night battle that engulfed the Aleppo-Damascus Highway (M-5 Highway) on Thursday.
The source added that the extremist rebel forces have not captured anything of note just yet; however, this is likely due to the air support from the Russian Air Force’s hind helicopter gunships that are hunting down the militants from Jabhat Al-Nusra and Jund Al-Aqsa.
Should the extremist rebels seize these 4 villages, then the Syrian Armed Forces at nearby Ma’an will be in serious trouble because they will be flanked from the east and west.
Jund Al-Aqsa and Jabhat Al-Nusra have launched several offensives in the past, but most of them have been repelled after a brief battle with the government forces.
The government’s defenses at these 4 villages are comprised of soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army’s 87th Brigade of the 11th Tank Brigade, the National Defense Forces (NDF) of Suqaylabiyah, and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (Mhardeh and Suqaylabiyah factions).
Ibrahim Joudeh in Damascus contributed to this article