On Saturday morning, the Syrian Arab Army’s 550th Artillery Brigade of the 1st Armored Division countered the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham’s (ISIS) offensive near the Tiyas Military Airbase to the east and the town of Al-Farqalas to west, killing a dozen enemy combatants before they were able to regain control of the strategic Palmyra-Homs Highway in eastern Homs.
The Palmyra-Homs Highway stretches for about 150km across the vast deserts of the Homs Governorate, providing the only pathway between these two historical cities; it is also important to remember that the scarcity of roads in eastern Homs makes it difficult to travel through because of the rugged terrain that encompasses the eastern part of this province.
Following ISIS’ repelled attack at the checkpoint outside of the town of Farqalas, the Syrian Armed Forces launched a counter-assault to push back the enemy combatants and then reinforce the Palmyra-Homs Highway between Farqalas and the Tiyas Military Airport; however, ISIS would not willingly retreat, resulting in a heated battle between the Syrian Armed Forces and this terrorist group for three hours.
Reports from east Homs confirmed that the loud explosion heard on Saturday morning in Farqalas was due to militants from ISIS detonating a bomb at the gas pipeline near the town; this attack did not harm anyone, but it did provide the terrorist group with enough confidence to try an unorganized assault outside of Farqalas.
In addition to the firefights on the Palmyra-Homs Highway, the Syrian Armed Forces and ISIS continued their battle for control of the Jazal Gas Fields and the village itself; if the former can capture this part of Homs, they will have effectively put themselves in position to launch a counter-offensive at Palmyra.
Meanwhile, inside the ancient city of Palmyra, the militants from ISIS detonated a number of explosives at the Palmyra Central Prison, destroying the whole facility within a matter of seconds.