Hama: operations stall out after rebel infighting, government counterattack
After achieving significant gains in a previous offensive, opposition forces failed to maintain their inertia in the northern Hama countryside(1). Offensive operations came to a halt after infighting started between Jund al-Aqsa and several other Islamist groups(2). Although the internal conflict has been brought to a halt by negotiations(3), the Hama campaign has not resumed, and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Hama have recovered lost ground in the meantime(4).
Bolstered by reinforcements and a fresh round of infighting in opposition ranks, SAA and National Defense Force (NDF) units went on the offensive beginning on October 9th, following heavy shelling. Despite significant resistance from Jaish al-Izza and Jaish al-Nasr along the entire frontline, government units managed to capture the towns of Kubbariyah, Kawkab, and Ma’an(5). Rebel forces regrouped and retook Ma’an, however within the next two days heavy fighting weakened their tenuous grip on the town(6). Assisted by heavy weapons, the SAA launched a final attack on Ma’an on October 13th, and seized the town and its environs(7).
After the loss of Ma’an, rebel forces attempted to regroup despite heavy airstrikes by the Russian Air Force (RuAF)(8). Further attempts by the SAA to advance were stymied by resistance from Jaish al-Izza and Jabhet Fatah al-Shaam (JFS), who fought back at Ma’ardes and repelled government troops(9). By nighttime on October 14th, no additional ground had been gained and the situation had not changed, although rebel group Faylaq al-Sham reported the unconfirmed killing of several Russian military officers in an artillery strike near Ma’an(10).