High-intensity combat continues to rage in the Northern Hama combat sector. As far as can be seen, the localised counterattacks launched by pro-government forces in preceding days – initially for stemming the Jihdaist-Islamist onslaught and buying time for large reserves to move into the area – has now turned into a general counteroffensive which is reversing all the gains made by the terrorist coalition since March 21st.
The first signs of this pro-government offensive became apparent 72 hours ago with the capture of a number of key hilltops and villages which broke militant lines east of Khattab. This included Point 50, Tal Shihah, Tal al-Samsam, Khirbat-Hajamah, Balhasin and Arzeh. In addition to this, the hilltop of Tal Bizam to the southwest of Ma’an was liberated. Control of Tal Bizam in particular brought the M-5 Highway – the main communication line for the terrorist coalition in northern Hama – almost to within fire-control range of line-of-sight weapons systems.
Following the gains west of Qomhana, the pro-government forces maintained their offensive in this direction, going on to storm the town of Khattab as well as the villages of al-Majdal and al-Sheer.
Within hours these areas where liberated from the militant groups and following this the pro-government forces continued a general advance to the north.
In addition securing more territory to the north of al-Majdal and al-Sheer, the pro-government forces also achieved gains north of Khattab, including the liberation of Zur al-Jadid, Zur al-Masaliq and the hilltop of Tall Fuliflah.
The pro-government counteroffensive in Northern Hama – which for the most part is being led by the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces – is following an operational model typical of what has been seen in East Aleppo over the last ten weeks with masses of armour and mechanised infantry backed by intensive artillery bombardment and airpower being used to overwhelm Jihdaist-Islamist forces on every given point of contact. Indeed, also like East Aleppo, the terrain of northern Hama with its rolling plains, favours the use of the Deep Battle scheme by the pro-government forces. However to be fair, almost every other conceivable faction aligned to the Syrian Arab Army is also participating in this battle, including the National Defense Forces, Hezbollah and even fighters of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. On another note, it should be conceded that pro-government losses in vehicles and armour have been exceptionally high since the battle began ten days ago, with militant forces making heavy use of anti-tank guided missiles – mostly the US-built TOW system. Indeed, the terrorists have also used these weapons against un-expecting clusters of pro-government troops with painfully devastating results. Overall and on a finishing note, it can now be said that the battle to which pro-government forces are reacting to in Northern Hama is not just a local counter-terrorism operation due the large area it is encompasses and the sheer amount of manpower and heavy weapons which both sides have been forced to commit to the fight and whilst pro-government forces appear to have decisively turned the tide, the full scope of their counteroffensive – albeit very successful so far already – is yet to be seen.