On Sunday morning, the Russian Air Force surprised the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) with a series of airstrikes inside the terrorist group’s stronghold at ‘Aqayrbat in the Al-Salamiyah District.
The airstrikes inside ‘Aqayrbat marked the first time since the Russian Air Force began their aerial campaign in Syria that they targeted the terrorist group at this imperative city inside the Hama Govenorate’s eastern countryside.
According to a military source at the Hama Military Airport, the Russian Air Force struck the terrorist group inside ‘Aqayrbat at least a half dozen times before the civilian-led “National Defense Forces” (NDF) launched a flurry of mortar shells and rockets into the aforementioned city.
East Hama is one of the most densely populated ISIS locations inside Syria; it has become a primary target for the Russian Air Force due to its proximity to the Tabaqa Military Airport (ISIS’ main base in Syria) and the provincial capital of the Al-Raqqa Governorate.
As long as ISIS controls the eastern countryside of the Al-Salamiyah District, they have full access to northeastern Homs and the densely populated Ismaeli (minority religious sect) city of Al-Salamiyah.
Since ISIS’ capture of the Tabaqa Military Airport in August of 2014, the terrorist group has been able to expand their control over this rural area in Hama’s eastern countryside; if it remains under ISIS’ control, the Syrian Armed Forces could face a serious issue down the road due to its proximity to the major highways leading to both Hama City and Homs City.