[UPDATED] Tadmur/Homs: ISIS goes on broad desert offensive, seizes territory, threatens major government airbase
Despite losing ground the past week east of the city of Tadmur, the Islamic State has managed to shift the fighting in the desert to areas north of the city, and has already made up for their losses around Arak. On May 6th, ISIS launched a blitz attack on the Sha’er Gas Field, one of the many natural gas fields dotting the desert countryside of Tadmur Governorate. Government forces garrisoning the field routed in quick order, and the terrorist group seized the entirety of the field within twenty-four hours. Despite a government counteroffensive to reclaim lost ground, ISIS still holds most of the control points it took, and has captured several armored vehicles and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Meanwhile, farther south, other ISIS elements have recently made an offensive against the T4 Airbase, the government’s largest airbase in Homs Governorate. Although fighting has not yet reached the airbase itself, ISIS forces have taken several checkpoints and claim to have shot down a Syrian Air Force helicopter that was firing on their forces. Casualty figures are so far unconfirmed but the government has lost a significant number of fighters, while ISIS has sustained fairly minor casualties beyond the rumored loss of three tanks to government ATGM positions. Fighting is ongoing as of 1700 hours Damascus time.
UPDATE, 5/14/16: Over the past couple of days, the ISIS offensive against the outskirts of T4 Airbase was repelled by regime defenses, with moderate casualties on both sides. Since then, SAA elements have been steadily regaining ground, recapturing an abandoned military position near the airbase and taking some high ground that had been previously lost. Farther north, the SAA regained multiple checkpoints in the Sha’er Gas Fields as ISIS has retreated with captured gear and vehicles. Despite retaking ground, the SAA has not regained any lost supplies or vehicles and has been taking losses from IEDs and constant shelling. Currently, the focus has shifted farther northeast to the crucial city of Deir-ez-Zor, which has seen heavy fighting throughout the entire day of 5/14.