The joint Islamist offensive to capture the city of Jisr Al-Shughour, the Brick Factory near Al-Mastouma, and Al-Ghaab Plain (west Hama) has been dubbed “Ghazwa Sahel Al-Ghaab” by the militant groups; it is the second large-scale offensive that has been launched by conglomerate of Islamist militias known as “Jaysh Al-Fatah” in northern Syria.
Day two of the offensive at the Brick Factory (east of Al-Mastouma) started out with the militants from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and their ally “Ajnad Al-Sham” storming the checkpoints at the eastern flank, where they were able to capture the hill adjacent to facility.
However, the success cost the Islamist groups a significant number of fighters, as over 30 of the militants were killed trying to take this hill from the National Defense Forces (NDF) – the latter only lost 6 fighters before withdrawing to the west.
The militants did not stop there, they attempted to reach the facility gates, but were redirected after Syrian Arab Air Force Hind Helicopters carried out a powerful bombardment on the swarming enemy combatants, while the entrenched NDF fighters sprayed the remaining infiltrators with a barrage of gunfire.
Following the failed infiltration attempt, the NDF launched a brief counter-offensive to push the remaining militants towards the hill overlooking the Brick Factory; they were successful, but Jabhat Al-Nusra was able dig-in before nightfall, as the volatile weather limited the SAAF from bombarding the militants from the air.
The firefights at the Brick Factory died down around 9:30 P.M. Damascus Time on Thursday, despite the close proximity of the two opposing parties – they are likely to resume the firefights in the wee hours on Friday morning.