Over the past 40 days, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has conducted a massive offensive in eastern Homs which effectively had government troops wrestle the cities of Palmyra and Qaryatayn from ISIS fighters.
Now, the SAA – spearheaded by the Tiger Forces and Major General Suheil al-Hassan – have reached the outskirts of the oil-rich region at Arak in the deserts of central Syria, thereby slicing far east through ISIS heartland.
Furthermore, government soldiers have also pushed north of Palmyra over the past week, thus capturing the Mazar mountain, Brigade 550 Army Base, the Hajjana Storage Area, Abar al-Umi village and several checkpoints along the road.
Long-term, these northern government advances could have the SAA link up with their comrades at al-Ithriya in southern Aleppo, thereby cutting off a huge ISIS controlled area between Salamiyah and Palmyra.
However, the SAA’s Military High Command insists upon capturing the mountainous areas south of Palmyra as to prevent future ISIS attacks on Qaryatayn and secure the right flank for the upcoming Deir Ezzor offensive along the M7-Highway.
While many government soldiers are still held up around an isolated rebel enclave in northern Homs (marked in green on the map), this does not seem to halt the SAA from gaining further ground inside the oil rich ISIS-held regions in eastern Homs.