On May 5, local sources said that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) deployed several well-equipped offensive units at a base in the village of Jurin in the northwestern Hama countryside. According to Syrian opposition activists, the SAA and its allies are preparing to launch a large scale military operation to capture the al-Ghab plains in the northern western Hama countryside and Jisr al-Shughur city in the northwestern Idlib countryside.
Over the last week, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Force and the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) have conducted several airstrikes on positions of the militants in the al-Ghab plains and the town of Jisr al-Shughur.
On March 1, Russia warned local opposition leaders and Free Syrian Army (FSA) commanders in the town of Qalaat al-Madiq and the areas around it in northwestern Hama that they will face a military operation if they didn’t hand over all of their positions to the SAA. Back then, the FSA reject Russia’s demands.
During the last three years, the al-Ghab plains and Jisr al-Shughur have been the heartland for radical groups like Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP). Moreover, militants have used these areas as a foothold for attacks against the Russian Hmeimim airbase with Grad rockets and armed drones on several occasions.
Local observers believe that the SAA and its allies will be able to launch a large-scale operation in the area once the reconciliation agreement in northern Homs is fulfilled.