The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have repelled a counter-attack of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies in the northern part of the province of Hama.
On April 25, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies attacked government forces in Masasanah and near Zilaqiat. In Masasanah, militants used a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) to break Syrian army defenses and entered the village. In Zilaqiat, HTS-led forces engaged government troops in a series of firefights. The goal of the counter-attack was to stabilize the defense line in the Zalaqiat-Masasanah-Buwaida-Morek line and to prevent further advances by government forces.
Pro-government sources also claimed that the SAA had destroyed a HTS VBIED near Masasanah. However, last night, the village remained under the HTS control.
SAA 100m away from jihadist SVBIED after they halted it. SAA then retreated to a safe distance and blew it up. SVBIED never reached Masasnah pic.twitter.com/gHwKQaIvJR
— The’Nimr’Tiger ?? (@Souria4Syrians) April 26, 2017
On April 26, the SAA and the NDF, led by the Tiger Forces and the 5th Assault Corps, regroupped and regained the village of Masasanah from HTS-led forces. An intense fighting continued in Zalaqiat. Nonetheless, reports appeared that militants were retreating from the area. If confirmed, it will mean that the HTS-led counter-offensive attempts resulted in nothing.
Suheil al-Hassan, Commander of the Tiger Forces in northern Hama:
Warplanes are pounding the HTS rear in Kafr Zita: