BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:15 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and National Defence Forces (NDF) are pouring reinforcements into eastern Hama Governorate following a coordinated shock offensive by the ISIS terrorist group, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) – the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda – and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against their positions on both sides of the Salamiyah to Ithriyah highway.
As mentioned earlier, ISIS launched an offensive in cooperation with HTS and the FSA to open up a land corridor and lift the siege on their forces in eastern Hama.
Whilst ISIS attacked government positions at the town of Sheikh Hillal, HTS and the FSA attacked the town of al-Saan, both settlements being located at the thinnest point that separates ISIS-occupied territory from rebel-held land in east Hama.
According to some sources which are in contact with pro-government fighters, ISIS forces in eastern Hama – who despite being supported further north by HTS and the FSA are still bearing the brunt of this latest offensive – have not yet launched the main thrust of their assault against SAA and NDF positions stationed around Sheikh Hilal.
It has been noted that ISIS, in what was most likely only the first wave of its offensive, conducted its well known “concentrated fire technique” (generally involves honing the fire of many heavy machine guns on one point) against individual army positions.
Here, it is well known that the jihadist group only carries out such a tactic as part of a preliminary action to determinate the strength of enemy lines in different areas and to identify weak-points which can be further exploited with the assistance of additional forces.
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