After months of inactivity and small defeats, the Islamist rebels have formed a coalition of militias to launch a large-scale offensive in west Homs that is geared to capture a number of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and National Defense Forces (NDF) held villages on the border of Tartous.
The Islamist coalition assault began at 7 A.M. on Tuesday morning, when the militants from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham attacked the village of Hosh Al-Zebleh, resulting in the capture of the Zighbou and Madajana Checkpoints at the eastern flank.
Despite their capture of these two checkpoints, the militants from Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and Jabhat Al-Nusra were unable to infiltrate into Hosh Al-Zebleh, as NDF reinforcements poured-in to repel the enemy combatants swarming the village.
South of Host Al-Zebleh, the militants from Ahl Al-Sunnah and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham attempted to breach the NDF’s frontline defenses at Jiboreen; however, once again, they were unsuccessful in penetrating the NDF’s frontline fortifications.
The attacks did not stop there, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Jaysh Al-Tawheed attacked the SAA’s positions at Kafr Naan, and Kayseen, attempting to overwhelm the latter with superior numbers and heavy artillery from nearby Al-Houla; this was not enough to soften the SAA’s defenses, as the attack was repelled.
Rebel social media activists are reporting that six Islamist groups participating in this offensive in west Homs: Ajnad Homs, Faylaq Homs, Jaysh Al-Tawheed, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Ahl Al-Sunnah and Jabhat Al-Nusra.
According to a military source in the Homs Governorate, the Islamist groups suffered over 30 casualties during the first day of their offensive; this number included the following identified militants: Zaher Ayoub, Ahmad Qassim Sweiss, ‘Abdel-Salaam Al-Barini, Shafeeq Talib, Mohammad Abu Al-Sha’ar, Mohammad Al-Sheikh, “Abu Hamza Al-Ayoubi”, Mahmoud Dala’, ‘Abdel-Rahman Al-Sheikh, and ‘Abdel-Baqi Dala’.
Sources in Damascus have reported a large convoy of Syrian Arab Army reinforcements heading north towards the Homs Governorate in order to repel this Islamist offensive – their arrival was confirmed at 7:30 P.M. Damascus Time.