The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has imposed control of the strategic town of Qalaat al-Madiq in the northwestern Hama countryside, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and several other sources reported on May 9.
According to pro-government activists, the SAA entered the town under an agreement with local leaders there, who were apparently fed up with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies. After securing the town, the army advanced in its vicinity and captured several towns, including al-Tuwayni in the west and Kirkat in the north.
Qalat al-Madiq, which has some of the highest positions in northwestern Hama, is considered the main entrance for the entire region, commonly known as the al-Ghab Plains.
Earlier this year, HTS attacked the Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham Movement in Qalat al-Madiq. The terrorist group killed and injured many people in the attack and expelled some of the local fighters. This may have played a role in the locals’ decisions to reconcile with the Damascus government.
Now with Qalaat al-Madiq under its control, the SAA will likely develop its operation to capture the entire al-Ghab Plains. Such an advance could secure the Russian Hmeimim airbase on the Syrian coast and civilian areas in northern Hama, which are usually shelled from al-Ghab.
More on this topic:
- Map Update: Military Situation In Northwestern Syria After First Days Of Syrian Army Advance In Northwestern Hama