On Wednesday morning, the Syrian Arab Army’s 87th Brigade of the 10th Tank Division – in coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF) – launched a large-scale offensive in the Hama Governorate’s northern countryside that targeted the Islamist controlled towns of Kafr Zita, Qala’at Al-Madayq, Latmeen, and Al-Lataminah.
The offensive started off successfully for the Syrian Armed Forces, as they recaptured the of Al-Mughayr, Lahaya, and Markabah after intense clashes with Islamist rebels of the Free Syrian Army’s 101st Brigade, Liwaa Suqour Al-Ghaab (Al-Ghaab Hawks Brigade), Sham Legions, the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra”, and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham.
Following their success in the wee hours of the morning, the Syrian Armed Forces advanced closer to the Idlib-Hama border, capturing the hilltops of Tal Sakhar, Tal-Sikeek, and Tal Uthman before imposing control over the town of Al-Haweez near the imperative city of Kafr Zita.
In addition to their success to the south of Kafr Zita, the Syrian Armed Forces were able to secure the Latmeen-Morek axis and the eastern perimeter of Latmeen after an afternoon of intense firefights.
However, following these advances, the Syrian Armed Forces pushed too deep into enemy territory; this became reality when they took over the town of Kafr Naboudah, which was then followed by a counter-attack from the Islamist rebels.
The Islamist rebels took recaptured the territory in Kafr Naboudah and pushed the Syrian Armed Forces back towards the eastern entrance of Latmeen; this prompted many social media activists in support of the Islamist rebels to declare victory.
The firefights subsided by nightfall, but they are expected to start-up again in the morning.
According to a military source in the town of Al-Sqaylabiyah, the Russian Air Force carried out limited attacks on Wednesday in order to test their equipment against the Islamist rebel factions.
The battle for northern Hama was not only violent, but also destructive; this was confirmed by a Syrian Army source, who confirmed that 33 soldiers were killed-in-action, while another 65 were wounded.
Despite claims by pro-Opposition social media activists claiming the death of 1 Russian Marine, a military source confirmed that this information was untrue – no Russian soldiers were killed or wounded because none participated in the ground operation.
The Syrian Armed Forces did not only lose 33 soldiers, but also, 9 tanks/BMPs during this intense battle.