It has been nearly 18 months since the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) lost the Tabaqa Military Airport in the province of Al-Raqqa; and since then, the government forces have watched the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham” (ISIS) spread throughout the eastern part of the country as the world struggles to find an antidote to cure the region of this terrorist group.
Following the loss of the Tabaqa Military Airport in August of 2014, the Syrian Armed Forces were forced to retreat as far west as Al-Salamiyah in the Hama Governorate, leaving ISIS at the doorsteps of one of central Syria’s most important cities.
While 2015 was not kind to the Syrian Armed Forces after the losses of Idlib City, Palmyra, and Jisr Al-Shughour, they were able to push back the ISIS terrorists that were creepy towards Al-Salamiyah and Hama City, giving them hope in an otherwise depressing year.
Fast-forward to October of 2015, the Russian Air Force began their wide-scale aerial campaign to weaken both the Islamist rebels and ISIS, while also propelling the Syrian Armed Forces to take the offensive for the first time in 10 months.
Surprisingly, in a matter of months, the Syrian Armed Forces were able to push east along the Salamiyah-Raqqa Highway after a failed ISIS offensive to cutoff the Syrian government’s only supply route to the Aleppo Governorate.
As a result of ISIS’ failed military endeavor in October, the Syrian Arab Army’s 555th Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division was able to capture several sites in the Ithriyah countryside.
This quiet advance through the oil rich part of northeastern Hama has positioned the 555th Brigade and their allies from Kataebat Al-Ba’ath (Al-Ba’ath Battalions) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) approximately 50 km away from the Tabaqa Military Airport.
For the first time in a long time, the soldiers in eastern Hama are poised to recapture the Tabaqa Military Airport and avenge the loss of 200+ soldiers who were brutally executed by the ISIS terrorists after a long march through the deserts of Al-Raqqa.
On Tuesday morning, over 800 fighters from Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade), the pro-government Palestinian militia “Liwaa Al-Quds” (Jerusalem Brigade), Fouj Al-Joulan (Golani Regiment), and Kataebat Al-Ba’ath arrived at the town of Ithriyah in anticipation for the coming offensive.
While no date has been set for this offensive, sources from the Syrian Arab Army estimate that the assault could begin as early as March of this year.