Syria: recent updates from around the country
Although the focus in Syria has shifted recently to the city of Aleppo, which is on the verge of completely falling to government forces, other parts of the country have seen territory changes and clashes recently. The events in Aleppo demand greater attention due to the city’s status as arguably the most important urban center in the country (after Damascus), however there have been minor incidents across Syria within the past week. This article will serve as a brief update on several governorates that have not been in the news recently:
Dimashq – Following the evacuation of surrendered militants at the end of November, EODs and engineers began demining the area of Khan al-Shih1. The following day, Khan al-Shih and Zakiyah were fully evacuated of all militants2. Skirmishes and clashes continued throughout East Ghouta as December began. Jaish al-Islam soldiers destroyed a government T-72 west of Midaani on December 3rd. On December 7th, Hawsh al-Shalaq was captured by government soldiers in a new offensive3.
Hama – Several FSA rebel groups united to form the new operations room “Tajammu Tilab Bilad al-Sham” in northern Hama on the 28th of November4. Jaish al-Nasr and SAA artillery exchanged fire around Souran on December 2nd and 3rd. On the 3rd, reinforcements from the government unit “Qalamoun Shield” arrived at Hama in anticipation of an upcoming offensive5.
Homs – SAA and NDF fighters repelled an IS offensive on al-Amiriyyah village in the eastern Homs desert on the 27th of November6. Brief clashes occurred around Maher Gas Field and an IS technical was destroyed. On the 28th, SyAAF warplanes raided a meeting of Ahrar al-Shaam leaders, killing at least three7. On the 1st, IS Amaq Agency claimed the destruction of two BMPs east of Tadmur, and further fighting on the 4th and 5th around Sha’er Gas Field resulted in SAA forces suffering losses and retreating8. At the time of this post, IS had launched a new offensive on points in rural Tadmur and Homs, capturing the town of Huwaysis and several major gas fields.
Deir-ez-Zor – Supply drops on the 27th and 28th provided heavy weapons, ammo, and supplies to government defenders at the Deir-ez-Zor Airbase9. Clashes at the 137th Brigade Base on the 1st result in heavy casualties for both IS and the SAA. SyAAF airstrikes occur on the 2nd and 4th on villages around the city. An IS ATGM team knocks out an SAA T-62 and a supply truck on the 5th during fighting near the 137th Brigade Base10.
Hasakah – Clashes and raids between YPG/SDF and IS in southern Hasakah countryside have been constant. A new offensive launched on the 4th by YPG units aims to capture IS stronghold of Markhada11.
Al-Bab – On the 28th, TFSA forces attempted to advance on IS trenches north of Qabasin and were forced back after hours of fighting12. Farther west, SDF soldiers captured the hamlet of Azraq and surrounding olive groves from TFSA fighters13. Jabhat al-Shamiyah launched another attack on Qabasin on the 1st and were able to remove IS fighters from the vicinity14. Light clashes have occurred since then.