DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:25 P.M.) – Two days since losing three towns to jihadist rebels in the northeastern countryside of Hama, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) scored its first major advance on Tuesday evening following a wave of Russian airstrikes.
After regrouping on the outskirts of the lost turf, the SAA managed to recapture the large village of Umm Khazaym following skirmishes with Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and Jaish Al-Nasr (FSA) that lasted over 24 hours.
With more SAA reinforcements pouring into the rural area from the M42 Highway overnight, government troops also began probing operations around the HTS-held towns of Al-Baleel and Umm Turaykiyeh. Should these towns fall back under government control, all jihadist gains will have been reversed.
Brand new footage from the region, filmed from the opposition side, suggests Russian airstrikes and Syrian shelling have played an instrumental role in breaking down the jihadist defensive line:
One military source even suggested to Al-Masdar News that the SAA had conducted a coordinated tactical retreat on Sunday to lure in large lumbers of jihadist insurgents, reducing them to sitting ducks for Russian warplanes. If this proves to be the case, HTS and allied FSA factions will be significantly weakened in terms of manpower as the SAA pushes further towards Idlib.