BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:20 P.M.) – The month of May has seen the most violence in Syria this year, with much of the hostilities taking place in the northwestern part of the country.
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) began an important offensive in the northwestern countryside of the Hama Governorate in early May, targeting the last areas under the control of the jihadist and Turkish-backed rebels in this region.
At the start of the offensive, the Syrian Arab Army scored several advances in northwestern Hama, seizing a number of towns and villages, including the militant strongholds of Qal’at Al-Madiq and Kafr Naboudeh.
However, following the capture of these areas, the Syrian Arab Army found themselves on the defensive, as a large number of reinforcements from Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield forces made their way to northwestern Hama to retake their lost territory.
These reinforcements would help the militants retake the key town of Kafr Naboudeh and force the Syrian Arab Army to fall back west towards the large hilltop of Tal Hawash.
As of now, the Syrian Army and the militants are engaged in a fierce struggle for Kafr Naboudeh; however, even if they manage to retake the town, they will not be able to secure it until they capture the strategic hilltop of Tal Sakher.
The northeastern countryside of the Latakia Governorate has also seen a considerable increase in violence, as Syrian Army troops attempt to capture the mountaintop town of Kabani in the Jabal Al-Akrad region.
Since early May, the Syrian Army has stormed the southern axis of Kabani; however, all of their attacks have been repulsed thus far by the jihadist rebels of the Turkestan Islamic Party and Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham.
The battle has been costly for the Syrian military, despite the fact they outnumber the jihadists and possess the air superiority.
What makes this battle so difficult is the terrain. Kabbani is located on one of the highest peaks in northeastern Latakia. To capture the town, they will have to find a way to advance uphill and break through the jihadist lines.
The battle for the western and northern outskirts of Aleppo city is expected to commence in the coming weeks as the Syrian Arab Army and their allies look to retake the entire provincial capital from the jihadist and Turkish-backed rebels.
While the battle has yet to begin, the Syrian Army and the jihadist rebels have traded attacks on a daily basis. These attacks have resulted in the death of several people, including many civilians living in the government areas.
At the Tal Rifa’at front, the Turkish military continues to target the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Aleppo.
The Turkish military has launched artillery shells and rockets towards the YPG’s positions every week, prompting a heavy response from the latter.
Meanwhile, in the Afrin region, the suspected YPG sleeper cell group, the Afrin Liberation Forces, have continued to wreak havoc on the Turkish military and their rebels.
The Afrin Liberation Forces have carried sabotage attacks every few days, which often result in the death of several rebels and Turkish soldiers.
A number of Free Syrian Army (FSA) sleeper cells have recently begun attacking the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) forces inside the Daraa Governorate. These attacks have resulted in the death of many Syrian Arab Army soldiers, prompting the military to increase their presence in Daraa.
Most recently, a group of reconciled rebels carried out an attack on the Syrian military intelligence base in Jillin, resulting in the militants taking many officers hostage.
The reason for this attack was due to the recent arrest of the former Free Syrian Army commander Haytham Al-Hariri. The attackers demanded the release of Al-Hariri in exchange for the officers.
Central, Northern, and Eastern Syria
Both the Syrian Arab Army and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are currently clashing with the remnants of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) in northern, central, and eastern Syria.
For the Syrian Army, the Islamic State’s presence near Palmyra and Al-Sukhneh has proven to be an incredible problem, as they continue to carry out raids and ambushes along the International Highway.
In May alone, the Syrian Army has lost nearly 90 soldiers as a result of the Islamic State’s attacks.
While the SDF’s casualties are not fully known, they have also faced similar attacks in the Al-Shaddadi, Al-Raqqa, and Deir Ezzor regions.
The SDF has dealt with many car bombings, IEDs, and hit-and-run attacks from the terrorist group.