Early in the morning, Jabhat al-Nusra (Syrian al-Qaeda group) and militants of the Islamic Front attacked and seized three military outposts on the outskirts of Arrnailyah and Zur Hanifa from the Syrian Arab Army. With government troops on the retreat, they quickly re-mobilized at the aforementioned villages and went on a counter-offensive against the Islamist rebels.
Thus, the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Division, an al-Baath Battalion and many soldiers of the local National Defence Force were able to restore control of the outposts during the afternoon after a prolonged firefight. Rebels simply did not have sufficient time to prepare a defensive line as they seemed more busy with preparing an offensive to capture Arrnailyah and Zur Hanifa.
These villages, along with 4 others, were captured by government forces two months ago during a government offensive which effectively secured the road between Hama city and Salamiyah while forcing many rebels to retreat into the Homs governorate.
According to a source close to al-Masdar, three government soldiers were killed during the skirmishes. Meanwhile, the deathtoll among rebels was not disclosed.
Today’s events represent yet another breach of the Syrian truce deal; however, Jabhat al-Nusra was not invited to the UN-brokered Geneva talks since the group has pledged allegiance with al-Qaeda which is deemed a terrorist group world-wide.