BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:07 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – led by the veteran Desert Hawks Brigade, a well-equipped pro-government militia incorporated into the SAA force structure – has commenced its long-awaited operation to destroy the ISIS bastion in east Hama, the terrorist group’s last stronghold in central Syria.
Early this morning, and in the wake of a series of preliminary airstrikes carried out by the Russian Aerospace Force (RuAF), the SAA advanced east of the town of Sheikh Hilal and captured the zones of Shahed 9 and Shahed 10. Despite heavy bombardment, ferocious ISIS resistance was encountered almost immediately after SAA shock troops left their starting-off points, indicating that ISIS plans to fight a forward defence (this being a strategy that is rarely-ever employed by the terrorist group).
According to a military source, the SAA is expected to make more advances throughout the rest of the day as the initial shock phase of the offensive is still ongoing.
Based on past performances of the SAA in major offensive operations, a major breakthrough by pro-government forces in east Hama can be expected once the Desert Hawks commit the full weight of their strategic reserve against ISIS. The implementation of this, the breakthrough phase of the offensive, will come after the SAA has tested all possible axes of advance and determined a weak point in the Islamic State’s lines.