Following a success of the previous three days, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies gained a number of opportunities to continue their anti-ISIS operation in central Syria.
With the liberation of the Kawn oasis in the province of Homs, the SAA Tiger Forces deployed in a striking distance from the village of Taybah located at the road between Resafa and Sukhna.
In turn, ISIS took a defense posture and is now preparing for defensive operations and counter-attacks in order to prevent the SAA progress in central Syria.
Local sources speculate that ISIS lacks manpower to defend all its positions north of the Homs-Palmyra highway. If this is true, government forces have two key options:
- The SAA and its allies could make an attempt to further advance south of Ithriyah in order to cut off the ISIS-held town of Uqayribat from the rest of the ISIS-held area. However, ISIS has a strong defense in the area and has repeatedly shown that it’s able to repel an advance in this direction.
- Government forces will further advance along the Resafa-Sukhna road in order to link up the govenrment-held areas in the provinces of Homs and Raqqah. If this is done, the SAA will divide the ISIS-held area in the province of Homs in two parts.
Some sources also speculate that government forces may attempt to expand their zone of control north of Palmyra in order to secure the western flank of Sukhna prior to launching further attempts to drive ISIS out from the whole area north of the Homs-Palmyra highway.
At the same time, the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq released a statement claiming that ISIS members have repelled all SAA attempts to seuze the village of Humaymah located near the border with Iraq. This may indicate that the SAA shifted further the focus of its operations to central Syria.