TOPSHOT - Turkish-backed fighters from the Free Syrian Army stand in the Tal Malid area, north of Aleppo, as they fire towards Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) positions in the village of Um al-Hosh, in the area of Afrin, on January 20, 2018.Turkish forces began shelling the YPG enclave of Afrin from frontier Hatay province, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. Turkey has said repeatedly this week that an operation to oust the YPG from Afrin is imminent and has massed troops and armour on the border. / AFP PHOTO / Nazeer al-Khatib

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:45 P.M.) – A large number of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers and jihadist rebels were killed during a fierce battle in northern Hama last night.

According to a military source in Hama city, the jihadist rebels of Tanzeem Ansar Al-Tuwhid launched a surprise assault on the Syrian Arab Army’s positions at the Massasneh axis at 1:30 A.M. (local time).

Taking advantage of the poor weather, Tanzeem Ansar Al-Tuwhid attempted to overwhelm the Syrian Arab Army troops at the Massasneh axis.

Furthermore, Tanzeem Ansar Al-Tuwhid militants far behind the front-lines provided necessary support by launching several artillery shells at the Syrian Arab Army’s points at the villges of Madajin, Zour Al-Hesa, and Khirbat Ma’reen.

Despite using the element of surprise, Tanzeem Ansar Al-Tuwhid was ultimately repelled by the Syrian Arab Army after a fierce battle last night.

Both sides would end up losing more than 20 personnel during the intense battle, making this exchange of hostilities the most violent of the year.

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