On October 22, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) recaptured Tarfawi, Khafiyeh, Jib Abiyad and al-Shahatiyah villages in the northeastern Hama countryside from ISIS, according to the HTS-linked news agency Iba’a.
Iba’a also reported that HTS recaptured Mreijeb, Abu Myal villages and Abu Myal Hill in the northeastern Hama countryside on October 21. According to Iba’a, HTS fighters killed 10 fighters of ISIS during clashes in Mreijeb village.
So far, HTS recaptured around 60% of the villages and towns that ISIS seized during its rapid attack on the northeastern Hama countryside on October 9. Until now, many villages are still under the ISIS control, including the key village of Jruh north of the Salamiyah-Athriya road.
In a related development, Iba’a reported on October 21 that Russian warplanes conducted airstrikes against a gathering of HTS members who were on their way to fight ISIS. The Russian airstrikes targeted HTS fighters in Tharwat and Um Myal villages in the northeastern Hama countryside, according to Iba’a.
Syrian opposition sources claimed that several HTS fighters were killed, and several vehicles of HTS were destroyed in the Russian airstrikes.
Pro-government activist said that HTS might be massing its fighters under the excuse of fighting ISIS to attack the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
The battle between HTS and ISIS in the northeastern Hama countryside will likely end up with an agreement between the two sides. ISIS fighters will for sure prefer defect to HTS over surrendering to the SAA.