After capturing the Abu Kula dam area, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), supported by the Russian and Syrian air forces, advanced further in the area north of the T4 Airbase in the province of Homs. The SAA is trying to outflank the gas fields area, which includes the fields of Al-Mahr and Al-Sha’er. This move is the first step in the operation to capture it recapture them from ISIS terrorists.
The SAA also attacked ISIS fighters remaining in the Kattar mountain east of Palmyra. The SAA is reportedly planning to advance towards the Arak gas field. The Arak gas field is an important point that government forces keep under their control if they want to launch an operation towards the strategic town of Sokhna located at the Deir Ezzor-Homs highway some day.
From its side, ISIS claimed that it had managed to damage a bulldozer belonging to SAA after with an ATGM in the vicinity of the silos east of Palmyra. ISIS also claimed that it had repelled a SAA attack south of Palmyra.
The SAA’s operation in the Palmyra countryside has a big economical motive. Government forces are trying to capture the gas fields located northwest and east of Palmyra and the Phosphate mines south of Palmyra. In the same time, the operation aims some strategic targets like preparing to breaking the ISIS siege of Deir Ezzor. While the SAA does not control the whole countryside of Palmyra, it cannot push further along the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor road. Meanwhile, capturing of Palmyra-Al-Seen road will allow to prevent a possible Jaish Al-Islam advance from East Qalamoun.