DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:25 A.M.) – Hundreds of predominately Shi’ite pro-government troops arrived in rural Hama on Sunday evening to assist the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in its counter-insurgency efforts amid an ongoing counter-offensive in the region.
The convoy of foreign fighters were deployed near Halfaya and will help lead an assault on the rebel-held town in the days to come, a military source informed Al-Masdar News.
The reinforcements, composed of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, are expected to help Syrian government forces eliminate a vulnerable jihadist salient in northern Hama and possibly even strike towards southern Idlib, reaching rebel heartland that has been off limits to the SAA since 2012.
Although most soldiers on the Hama frontier are of Syrian origin, the newly arrived Shi’ite fighters have tipped the manpower scale to at least two-to-one in favor of the SAA.
Meanwhile, rebel forces – commanded by Failaq al-Sham commander Fadullah Naji and notorious Al-Qaeda chief Abu Mohammad al-Julani (Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham leader) – have set up a joint operations room uniting 17 Idlib-based factions in the battle against the SAA.