DAMASCUS, SYRIA (9:30 P.M.) – Rebel factions in rural Homs have begun extensive training of their fighters, looking to prepare them for coming battles with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and possibly link up with the opposition mainland further north in Idlib.
On Tuesday, brand new footage was released by the Jaish Al-Islam media center showing its combattants undergoing training at the town of Houla, an Islamist stronghold that has been under insurgent control for over 5 years.
Ahrar Al-Sham, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and a couple Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups are also known to have thousands of combat-ready militants in the pocket.
The frontline itself has been largely static since rebel forces evacuated from the provincial capital towards the northern countryside back in 2014. At the moment, the region is covered by a ‘de-escalation’ agreement.
With the vast majority of the SAA’s manpower tied up against ISIS in central and eastern Syria, rebel forces may opportunistically try to expand their pocket and escape the ongoing siege of the region in a do-or-die offensive.
Click here for a full interactive map of the region.