The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) shelled several positions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Syrian Liberation Front (SLF) and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the northern Homs pocket with heavy artillery and rockets on March 14 and 15, according to Syrian opposition sources.
The sources said that three fighters of the FSA had been killed in the SAA shelling. Moreover, some Syrian pro-government activists claimed that a large ammo depot belonging to the militants had been also destroyed.
The de-escalation agreement in the northern Homs countryside ended in mid-February, according to Bassam al-Sawah, a spokesman for the negotiations committee of the opposition factions in the northern Homs countryside.
A new agreement was supposed to replace the de-escalation agreement. However, the Homs countryside negotiation committee refused on January 11 any direct negotiations with the Damascus government and insisted that they will only negotiate with the Russian side.
The SAA shelling is likely aimed at pressuring the FSA, HTS and the SLF in northern Homs to accept a full reconciliation agreement. Such an agreement would strip these forces from their weapons and force radical elements to withdraw to other opposition-held areas.
Local observers believe that the Homs countryside negotiation committee will not accept a full reconciliation agreement. This will likely force the SAA and Russia to launch a military operation to secure the northern Homs countryside later this year.