DAMASCUS, SYRIA (10:00 P.M.) – The Islamic State may be on its way to relocating its self-declared caliphate in Idlib Province given a new advance by ISIS militants in the northeastern countryside of Hama.
On Tuesday afternoon, ISIS fighters reportedly wrestled control of Muylah Ben Hadid town after skirmishes with Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), the largest opposition group in Syria.
Following the advance, ISIS has pushed its forward positions to within 10 kilometers of the administrative border with Idlib. At the moment, some 25 villages and hamlets in rural Hama are under Islamic State control.
Over the past week, HTS has neutralized at least two groups of undercover ISIS members discovered traveling from Idlib towards the Hama pocket although dozens of sleeper cells are believed to have slipt undetected through HTS lines.
Due to recent advances in Hama and simultaneous losses in Deir Ezzor, ISIS is on the verge of becoming more powerful in the former region compared to the latter.
Meanwhile, fresh reports indicate that HTS has launched a major counter-offensive against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in southern Aleppo on Tuesday, possibly retaking the strategic frontier town of Rashadiyah. Al-Masdar News is yet to independently confirm the latter advance.