The conglomerate of Islamist rebel factions in northern Syria “Jaysh Al-Fateh” (Army of Conquest) began the second day of their long-awaited northern Hama offensive by targeting the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) controlled villages of Lahaya and Markabah near the contested city of Latmeen on Friday morning.
Leading the operations for Jaysh Al-Fateh in the northern Hama countryside on Friday were the Islamist rebel fighters from Ajnad Al-Sham, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham; these aforementioned militants struck the Syrian Arab Army’s frontline defenses at Lahaya and Markabah from two axes: Al-Lataminah and Latmeen.
According to rebel social media activists, Jaysh Al-Fateh reportedly captured Lahaya and Markabah from the Syrian Arab Army’s 87th Brigade of the 10th Tank Brigade before withdrawing due to airstrikes from the Russian Air Force; however, field reports from the 10th Division alleged that the Islamist rebel factions did not capture either town in northern Hama – either way, there appears to be no map change as a result of this battle.
The towns of Lahaya and Markabah were captured by the Syrian Arab Army’s 87th Brigade and the National Defense Forces (NDF) during their brief offensive along the Hama-Idlib border last week; these aforementioned towns are the gateway to the large cities of Souran and Taybat Al-Imam.
Meanwhile, at the northeastern Hama towns of Al-Hamra, ‘Abdel-‘Aziz, and Ithriya, the Islamist rebels from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” attempted to by pass the Syrian Army’s defenses in an attempt to advance to the provincial capital; all of these infiltration attempts were repelled by the Syrian Armed Forces.