The Islamist rebels from Jund Al-Aqsa (Syrian Al-Qaeda group) launched a massive offensive in the Hama Governorate’s northern countryside that was meant to target the Syrian Armed Forces’ defensive positions along the strategic Aleppo-Damascus Highway (M-5 Highway), which ultimately leads to their main objective: Hama City.

On Sunday morning, multiple contingents from Jund Al-Aqsa and their Islamist allies attacked the checkpoints and villages of Al-Buwaydah, Masasineh, Al-Zulaqiyat, and Zalin, where they were able to capture the latter two checkpoints after a series of intense firefights with the Syrian Arab Army’s 87th Army and the National Defense Forces.

Initially, the Syrian Armed Forces were able to repel Jund Al-Aqsa and their allies at Al-Buwaydah and Masasineh; however, a second infiltration attempt proved successful for the Islamist rebels as they seized both villages from the pro-government forces in the late afternoon.

Nearly an hour later, the National Defense Forces of Mhardeh sent a convoy reinforcements to help push the encroaching Islamist rebels north; this provided the embattled pro-government soldiers near Souran with a major boost in manpower and military expertise.

Following the arrival of these aforementioned reinforcements, the Syrian Armed Forces recaptured the village of Al-Buwaydah, while also recapturing most of Masasineh from the Jund Al-Aqsa militants.

Currently, the Syrian Armed Forces are countering Jund Al-Aqsa at several sites in northern Hama; these firefights have been ongoing all night, with the Islamist rebels suffering heavy casualties as a result of the Russian airstrikes.

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