DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:00 P.M.) – On Saturday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was forced to respond with brute force after Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions unleashed hundreds of missiles upon government-held villages in the northern countryside of Hama.
In turn, the SAA’s artillery units responded fire. During the renewed clashes, the FSA’s so-called Free Idlib Army destroyed a SAA ammunition depot in the town of Masasnah:
More footage of FSA vehicles gearing up for war in northern Hama:
With a regional ‘de-escalation zone’ in place due to the Astana talks, this frontline has otherwise been relatively calm since early May. However, the renewed hostilities may prompt Syrian and Russian warplanes to resume their sorties over Idlib province which was left untouched by airstrikes the entire month of June.
Although neither side has launched a ground offensive yet, a renewed battle in northern Hama is seen as a breath of fresh air for the Islamic State as a handful of SAA divisions – most notably the Tiger Forces – were diverted away from northern Hama frontline 60 days ago to fight ISIS instead. If hostilities escalate further, they are likely to return.