For several days, the Syrian Arab Army’s 120th Brigade of the 2nd Division has steadily maneuvered their way through the rugged terrain surrounding the ancient Assyrian city of Quraytayn and positioned themselves for a massive assault on the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham’s (ISIS) defenses in the Homs Governorate’s southeastern countryside.
On Friday afternoon, sources close to Al-Masdar News confirmed the arrival of several hundred military personnel from the National Defense Forces (NDF); these soldiers were specifically trained by the Russian and Iranian military advisers in the Homs and Latakia Governorates before they made their way to this volatile front in central Syria.
The reinforcements come from three different groups associated with the National Defense Forces:
- Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade): they are the elite units in the NDF – the majority of these men are retired soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The Desert Hawks have been trained and equipped by the Russian military advisers. Recently, a large battalion led the charge into the strategic town of Salma in the Latakia Governorate.
- Dara’ Qalamoun (Qalamoun Shield): this is another elite NDF unit that has operated alongside Hezbollah during the Qalamoun and Al-Zabadani offensives. They did not receive the same training and weaponry as the Desert Hawks, but they are a veteran group that knows the terrain better than any other force participating in this battle.
- Liwaa Al-Na’ik: This is a relatively unknown NDF unit that has recently formed in eastern Homs. They have some battle experience (liberation of Maheen last month); however, they are the weakest of the aforementioned NDF units.
This new offensive is not exclusive to Quraytayn; in fact, the pro-government forces participating in this offensive are likely to strike Jabal Al-Mahsaa and Jabal Al-Nasrani as well.