DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:40 P.M.) – Ahrar Al-Sham and Failaq Al-Sham kicked off a new offensive in Hama province on Tuesday morning, targeting government-held areas near the small Christian city of Mahardeh after more Islamist reinforcements arrived from Idlib.
Attacking from two seperate flanks, Islamist militants overran the Al-Qaramitah area and its checkpoint while also seizing control of Tall Al-Sakhr near Kernaz, they claimed.
Despite reigning over joint areas of Idlib provice, the Ahrar Al-Sham leadership is on poor diplomatic terms with Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham. As such, the two rival factions are leading seperate offensives against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in rural Hama.
Now, the SAA must stiffen its defenses around Mahardeh which is home to a large Christian population feared to be slaughtered if captured by jihadist groups.