Hello and welcome to the 887th installment of the SWD.
Military events/news are listed below by the governorates:
The Turkish Armed Forces bombed the SDF-held villages of Tal Rifat, Ayn Daqnah and Maranaz, as announced two days ago by the Turkish Army.
Clashes between the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Democratic Forces took place close to Bughaz, west of Manbij city. Additionally, clashes erupted in the Al-Bab area between Turkish-backed forces on the one side and the SDF/Syrian government on the other.
Opposition groups reportedly withdrew from the close-to-be-encircled areas in northern Hama according to government sources. This retreat comes as no surprise after yesterdays’ government forces advance deeper into rebel-held Idlib. The capture of the M5 motorway and checkpoints to enter Khan Shaykhun threatened a potential encirclement of rebel forces in northern Hama. According to government sources, the areas left by rebel forces include Latamenah, Kafr Zita, Morek, Lahaya and Marakba.
As rebels retreat from Kefir Zeyta, Latamenah and Morek, the fate of the Turkish Army Forces observation post remains unclear.
To counter the claims of rebel withdrawal, two videos were uploaded by different sources denying the full retreat of rebels from the area. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham released one video showing some troops riding a motorbike accross Kafr Zita.
Another video shows a group of tired rebel fighters in the Northern Hama countryside saying they are surrounded by the Syrian Arab Army. Gunshots can be heard on the second video.
Overall, the information received from the frontlines is highly controversial from all sides. A major retreat would of rebel forces is highly likely (to prevent major loses of forces into an encirclement), although it is unclear whether it has already happened or about to occur. Additionally, the fate of the Turkish military observation post is still unknown, but it will probably be forced to leave the zone.
News coming from Khan Shaykhun is confusing as well. Conflicting reports suggest that most of the rebel units have withdrawn from the city, while some “free-riding” units decided to retreat to the southern areas of the city to continue fighting. This could be a potential strategy to keep the Syrian Army forces from further advancing while retreating most of the equipment and troops from the future pocket.
All advances on Hama-Idlib battlefront were accompanied by close air support by the Syrian Air Force and the Russian Air Force. Targeted areas include Khan Shaykhun, Al Tamanah, Takhtaya, Maarat al-Numan, Al Gharbi, Tal Tirah, and others. Most affected locations are those located next to the M5 Highway connecting Hama with Aleppo.
Turkish drones were spotted monitoring the situation at the southern border of Idlib.
Rebel forces returned fire on other parts of the front-line. Missiles were launched targeting government forces stationed on the village of Al Huwaiz (Ghab plain). According to rebel forces, there were some casualties as well as wounded soldiers.
Rebel group Ahrar al-Sharqiya targeted Madaya village with Grad rockets. Madaya was captured by the Syrian Army 4 days ago.
Some activity was also reported on the Northwestern border of Idlib and Latakia.
Daesh (ISIS) media outlet Amaq claimed Daesh assassinated an alleged agent of the Syrian government intelligence in the desert near Mansoura.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented that: “We will respond to any targeting of the Russian military in Syria” according to Sky News Arabia.
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