On May 19, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) elite 25th Special Mission Forces Division, also known as the Tiger Forces, dispatched a large force to central Syria as a part of ongoing preparation for a large-scale operation against ISIS cells in the region.
The force included dozens of battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, howitzers, multiple rocket launchers as well as hundreds of troops.
The operation, which will reportedly start very soon, will cover vast parts of the central region, from the eastern Homs countryside all the way to the eastern Hama countryside, the southern Aleppo countryside and the southern Raqqa countryside.
The main focus of the large-scale operation will be the strategic Ithriyah highway, which links Hama with Aleppo, as well as a side road that links the highway with the town of al-Resafa in the southern Raqqa countryside.
The operation will be backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces, who have already begun to hit ISIS cells and their hideouts in the targeted areas.
Between May 18 and 19, more than 55 Russian airstrikes hit ISIS’s areas of influence in the eastern Homs countryside, the eastern Hama countryside and the southern countryside of Raqqa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The London-based monitoring group said that several terrorists were killed or wounded as a result of the airstrikes.
ISIS cells in central Syria have been laying low for a few weeks now. The terrorists will likely attempt to avoid confrontation by fleeing to remote parts of the region once the SAA and its allies kick off their operation. This tactic allowed the group to survive previous operations with limited losses.
The upcoming operation will be the largest to target ISIS cells in central Syria in years. The Tiger Forces took part in previous operations in the region. However, on a more limited scale.