Government Forces Liberate Important Town Of Helfaya In Northern Hama, Lataminah and Morek – Next (Maps, Photos)

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On April 23, Syrian government forces liberated the important town of Helfaya from the joint militant forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the northern part of the province of Hama. Government troops also took control of Tal Batish, Batish and Sensher.

The Syrian National Defense Forces (NDF; a volunteer force assisting the Syrian Arab Army) was first to enter Halfaya.

Government Forces Liberate Important Town Of Helfaya In Northern Hama, Lataminah and Morek - Next (Maps, Photos)

Click to see the full-size image

According to pro-government sources, some 38 vehicles including 3 battle tanks were captured by government troops in Halfaya and the nearby area. However, this number looks to be overestimated. (or some pro-government sources just counted some cars used by militants in the area)

Pro-militant sources argue  thatthe “opposition” defenses collapsed in the area as a result of a week long artillery and air bombing campaign conducted by the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Government Forces Liberate Important Town Of Helfaya In Northern Hama, Lataminah and Morek - Next (Maps, Photos)

Click to see the full-size map

At the same time, the Tiger Forces and the 5th Assault Corps also continued their joint advance in northern Hama.

Government forces advanced in the villages of Hissa, Buwaida, Masasinah where they faced some resistance from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)-led forces.

The militant-held towns of Lataminah and Morek  will become the next mid-term target of the ongoing government offensive.

Government Forces Liberate Important Town Of Helfaya In Northern Hama, Lataminah and Morek - Next (Maps, Photos)

Click to see the full-size map

Latamihan is an important logistical hub of HTS and its allies used to resupply militant units operating in the area. If the Syrian Arab Army and its allies retake Lataminah, they will be shorten frontline and secure their recent gains in northern Hama. The problem is that Lataminah was a constant target of airstrikes in April and in late March. Thus, a notable part of the infrastructure of the town is already damaged. Its infrastructure will be further damaged if clashes erupt in the area.

In turn, Morek is strategically located along the Hama-Aleppo highway. The advance along this highway will allow government troops to outflank militant forces deployed in Lataminah and and Kafrzita. If government forces are able to retake Morek,  militants in Lataminah will be in a very complicated situation and will likely withdraw from the town like they already did in Halfaya. (More about the core concept operation to retake Halfaya could be found here)

The problem is that this operation will draw more resources than the direct advance on Lataminah. So, it will not be possible if ISIS launches some “unexpected” large-scale advance in the countryside of Palmyra or at the Ithriyah-Aleppo highway. (the terrorist group has repeatedly did this de-facto assisting “moderate opposition” forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham)

Some photos from the Helfaya area:

Government Forces Liberate Important Town Of Helfaya In Northern Hama, Lataminah and Morek - Next (Maps, Photos)

Click to see the full-size image

Government Forces Liberate Important Town Of Helfaya In Northern Hama, Lataminah and Morek - Next (Maps, Photos)

Click to see the full-size image

Government Forces Liberate Important Town Of Helfaya In Northern Hama, Lataminah and Morek - Next (Maps, Photos)

Click to see the full-size image

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  • MeMadMax

    Lataminah is a kill zone, hopefully they pack as much terrorist vermin as they can in there…

    • Hrky75

      If they decide to storm Kafr Zayta and Morek in a pincer movement it could well become a big jihadi graveyard…

      • gold37

        yes, they have to leave one route open so the rats can try and escape, get killed in the process. What the Syrian army doesn’t want is another pocket that takes a lot of manpower. I see them reaching Khan Sheikhun at least if another offensive does not happen elsewhere, its a day to day war, tactics change, strategy remains the same.

        • Hrky75

          This situation is much different from Damascus pockets. There the government was letting food and medicine in the pockets for civilians to survive and terrorist benefited, while having enough arms and ammo captured in local SAA bases. In addition, ever present corruption allowed for some weapons to be smuggled in. In this situation rebels have no stockpiles and with supplies from Idlib cut, wouldn’t be able to endure a long siege. I’d go for encirclement and let them out of the cauldron only feet first…

          • Aleks Black

            The only draw back of encirclement is that battle for Morek and Kafrzita would be fierce because the rebels wouldnt leave easily.I think the goal is to expel and bleed them so as to keep SAA fighting strength up because there are a lot of Fronts and a lot of scumbags the SAA needs to get all over syria.

          • Hrky75

            To paraphrase an old Croatian proverb – Dead man doesn’t run. If they are encircled along with their heavy equipment they won’t be able to fight another day on another front. And my guess they’d run out of food, fuel and ammo in weeks…

          • Aleks Black

            Once the encirclement is complete you are correct. but the encirclement would require incredible sacrifices and loss of life by the SAA.

          • Hrky75

            Maybe not – look at the map. Whole area is flat with some hills to the south of Morek and Kaft Zayta. It’s perfect country for SAA to use it’s advantage in artillery and tanks in addition to air superiority. Planned and executed correctly the operation would be a turkey shoot.

          • Aleks Black

            It’s also a perfect place to lose a third of your tanks to TOW missile strikes and ambushes. It takes 18 years to grow a new Syrian. I understand what you mean in terms of topography, but that is really not what is happening down there. They are sending out recon units to engage the HTS, then opening up on them with bigger guns. Some EW, some bombing, but no all out frontal assault. I like the idea of cornering these guys off, but that may, in fact, be a “red line” for some of the bigger fish. Its a complicated game.

          • Hrky75

            I agree. A decisive SAA victory would be followed by another “Assad’s CW attack” and more “moral outrage” in the form of TLAMs…

          • gold37

            So the 10,000 or so that were involved in the offensive just went there with bare feet, no arms and ammo? That offensive was made to reach Hama atleast, you can’t tell me that their ammo is coming from Idlib on a day to day basis and they have no stockpiles near the front lines.

          • Hrky75

            Lataminah is an important supply base, but resources stockpiled there wouldn’t last them long – especially after weeks of Ru AF bombing. In addition, terrorist usually don’t keep all of their eggs in one basket – i.e. don’t stockpile large amounts of supplies in one place. SAA never found large stocks in towns they liberated, so my guess is terrorists do travel light…

          • gold37

            Maybe so, but I believe push them back as they are retreating. You may be right, if they get besieged, others may try and break it and get into the meat grinder as well.

  • Nigel Maund

    Well done to the SAA and Russian advisors! Doing a great job in Syria despite all the western media propaganda and western efforts to derail the good work Syrian, Iranian and Russian forces are doing often at great personal risk and costs.

    • Daniel

      And Lebanese

      • Nigel Maund

        Agreed! Sorry to miss them out!

      • Mase fah

        and iraqi

  • Attrition47

    Where will the Syrians strike next? Perhaps it’s too soon for Idlib so possibly in the east beyond Aleppo or south near Palmyra. Anything to obstruct the Washington barbarians.

    • Hrky75

      This war will have been won by the side that controls Der Ezzor and land connection with Iraq. I think SAA will expand buffer around Palmira first. Take control of Al Busayri and surrounding hills. Eliminate Palmira-Itria salient and then push for Der Ezzor some time this fall…

    • Bill Wilson

      The SAA should keep moving forward to eliminate that salient as long as HTS & friends are struggling to fend them off. Once that’s done them the SAA really should wheel east to rid eastern Hama Province of “rebels” then north thru eastern Idlib to secure more transportation routes to Aleppo. There’s a bunch of “rebel” held villages south of Aleppo that need to be cleared out. They haven’t caused the SAA much if any trouble for a long time so may be held by “moderates” honoring the truce and may be persuaded to give up fighting or clear out before getting wiped out.

    • Wahid Algiers

      Don’ t forget Daraa to clear.

  • Pampi Ta

    Well done, very good job !
    Go on and crush these ‘moderate’ terrorists.

  • Joe Doe

    As I mention before. SAA should also regroup in Aleppo and open another front south of Aleppo in direction Abu ad Duhur. Just to force the FSA move some forces to that area and the same time push from Hama north after liberate Murak. If SAA could succeed everything east of Abu ad Duhur.they would gain substantial buffer zone and also shrink defence line and eventually more resources to push NW in Idlib province but also EAST which ISIS will have to add also resources, therefore Palmyra would be relief for potential counter attack. SAA pushing on one area is all strategy and allows enemy to regroup and rearm.

    • Joe Doe

      I addition Assad should only give amnesty to those who wants to laid down the arms or join SAA. Given the ISIS or FSA choice to relocate with arms to Idlip, and later the SAA have to fight them in different area only complicate and does not resolving the war. Such action only allows the FSA to regroup and rearm FSA

      • Aleks Black

        SAA us a finite force. I like the ideas of a west aleepo front but the problem is that most of the Units in the SAA as better trained for holding territory then storming. I dont think SAA has enough storming troops to effectively fight on so many fronts. The reason for the priority in Hama is to take Khan Sheikhoun to deal with the CW narrative.

        • Hrky75

          The length of Syrian internal and external front lines is comparable to WW2 eastern front – and SAA has nowhere near as many men as the Red army. Current strategy is holding off HTS in Idlib while trying to take as much territory from ISIL and connecting with Der Ezzor. Only problem is HTS and it’s western sponsors are aware of that and will try to disrupt it by launching offensives. I say hand them their asses in Latamiah pocket now and they’ll be quiet for a couple of months…

          • Aleks Black

            I like your point of view. I think SAA is trying to achieve its objectives without degrading its capacity. Nobody wants a pyrrhic victory.

        • Joe Doe

          I think it is the case very limited SAA resources, but SAA will have no choice but advance north of Hama as they do, than the same time open south of Aleppo another front, than go east and west. The ISIS right now is regrouping and rearming and sooner or later the ISIS will attack Palmyra and Deir ez Zor. Who first attack has the initiative. Assad should sign contract with Russia on massive military hardware delivery ASAP. RIght now I see SAA tactic as bandage strategy. SAA contain one attack, another one or 2 are coming up in another area

          • Aleks Black

            I disagree with SAA tactics being a bandage strategy because they are winning. SAA is degrading the enemy, capturing territory, and growing its own ranks. When the 5th corp proves itself capable, the speed of SAA operations will increase. I think SAA is cautious and often makes the mistakes of letting the jihadis go to live to fight another day. From the SAA point of view, they have all the time in the world, they are in their own country. The goal is to lose as few people as possible. I think the Russians would be more interested in making pockets and massacring jihadis but when you are in another man’s house, you have to respect him trying to protect his brothers and sons.

  • Xanatos

    If they had more manpower, morek would be ideal. Then Kafr nabudah and habit would be the other pincer that would force the evacuation of lataminah.

    The lack of troops is so frustrating.

  • SnowCatzor

    Good job, these so-called ‘opposition’ forces (terrorists) have lost everything and gained nothing during this offensive. They should have just stayed where they were and not attacked in the first place, as it’s becoming increasingly obvious they no longer possess the ability to launch successful offensives against government forces.

    Seriously, when was last time they actually succeeded with any of their significant offensives against the government? Mid-2015 perhaps? They really need to reconsider the practicality of their cause.

  • Bill Wilson

    I’m curious to know the condition of the 3 battle tanks. Professional armies will destroy them with charges or at least disable them for awhile by draining the motor oil while it’s running and tossing a thermite grenade inside the cannon’s breech. If these 3 where left intact then that should tell the SAA that they need to keep advancing since their opponents are obviously poorly trained.

    • PZIVJ1943

      Good to see SAA taking Halfaya by a flanking attack from the east to threaten line of communication at Hassa (no large frontal attack was needed). No doubt HTS had to leave some equipment and supplies behind. I hope the Jihadist are in very bad shape in N Hama.

  • Adam Roble

    We are curious about what the N.Hamma battle will end. We, the Somali people, pray for Syria and its president. All Syrian community must stand together to defend their country from these mercenaries. Of course, ISIS will give them de facto assistance, but i hope SAA will not stop for it.