The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has shocked the Syrian Armed Forces in western Syria this week, capturing several strategic sites while evading the swarming fighter jets from the Russian Air Force that have prayed on the desert roads the terrorist group travels upon.

Last weekend, ISIS perfectly timed their offensives in the city of Al-Safira and eastern Hama to coincide with the massive dust storm that sweeping over the imperative Khanasser-Ithriya Highway that leads to the provincial capital of the Aleppo Governorate; these volatile weather conditions sidelined the Russian Air Force, giving the terrorist group a boost on the ground.

ISIS successfully captured 9km of terrain along the Khanasser-Ithriya Highway and almost broke-into the Syrian government stronghold of Al-Safira in southern Hama; this created panic amongst the Syrian Armed Forces in this vast desert area, as the terrorist group sprung to life to orchestrate this surprise offensive that yielded significant gains for them.

At Midnight on Sunday, ISIS would shock the soldiers from the National Defense Forces (NDF) protecting Maheen in east Homs after overrunning their only checkpoint and then subsequently taking full control of this desert-town.

With ISIS in control of Maheen and Al-Quraytayn in east Homs, they have now approached the strategically located town of Sadad, which is situated to the east of the imperative “Damascus-Homs Highway” that was just reopened last year.

Sadad is a densely populated Christian town in east Homs that was finally recaptured by the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division and Hezbollah during their first Qalamoun Offensive; this aforementioned offensive allowed for thousands of resident to return back to their home.

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Since the recapture of Sadad, the Syrian Armed Forces’ Central Command began to train and arm every citizen that was willing to join the civilian-led “National Defense Forces” – in a few months, the number of NDF from Sadad swelled to over 4,000 men and women.

In addition to the large NDF presence in Sadad, the third largest contingent from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) is headquartered inside this town – they played a pivotal role in liberating the town from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The Christians of Sadad have witnessed the horrors of this war; especially, after they were massacred by the joint forces from Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army in 2013.

These inhabitants of Sadad are fully aware of what awaits them if ISIS captures, as many of their relatives in the neighboring town of Al-Quraytayn bear witness to the inhuman treatment from the terrorist group.

If ISIS assumes they are going to overrun the Syrian Armed Forces’ defenses in Sadad with relative ease – they are in for a surprise.

 

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Editor-in-Chief Specializing in Near Eastern Affairs and Economics.

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