The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has been deploying additional reinforcements to Hama’s northern countryside since this morning. Several units from the SAA’s Tiger Forces and National Defense Forces (NDF) were already relocated to the area.
According to pro-government sources, the goal of the expected military operation is to capture the rebel stronghold of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib’s southern countryside in order to launch a serious investigation on the alleged chemical attack in the town. However, this looks as a very compliacted task and will likely not be possible soon.
Most likely, government forces will try to reverse the rest of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) gains made in northern Hama in March, recapturing Souran and Maardas.
According to loyalist sources, the SAA will continue reinforcing its positions in Hama’s countryside as the counterattack on Ma’ardes and Souran takes place. If confirmed, this will indicate that the Syrian military is realy considering a possibility of the push in the direction of Khan Sheikhoun.
Clashes continued for the third day in Ma’ardes where HTS claimed capturing of the poultry region of the town.
HTS declared through its media wings that it targeted Syrian military positions in the Mu’arrad and the Kafra’ mountain with rockets and artillery.
HTS also resumed its targeting of civilians inside the besieged villages of Kafraya and Foua’a in the province of Idlib with rockets after announcing the abortion of the supposed evacuation agreement.
According to opposition sources inside Idlib city, the provincial capital currently witnesses massive mobilization of HTS fighters. In turn, Ahrar al-Sham fighters are mobilizing around the city. Some reports suggest that clashes may break out at any given moment as tensions escalate between the two radical organizations for unspoken reasons.
HTS militants are advancing in Ma’ardes: