This morning, Syrian government forces, led by the Tiger Forces and the 5th Assault Corps, have advanced further against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies in the northern countryside of the Hama provincial capital.
Suheil al-Hassan, Commander of the Tiger Forces, is in Northern Hama:
— Ivan Sidorenko (@IvanSidorenko1) April 22, 2017
Government troops, backed up by artillery units and warplanes attacked militants north of the recently captured town of Taibat al-Imam and took control of the Mintar hill, Khirbet Saman and the nearby checkpoint.
The Tiger Forces and the 5th Assault Corps are advancing in the direction of the villages of Buwaidah and Masasnah.
These villages don’t have a strategic value themselves. However, they are located at the M5 Highway, linking up Damascus, Hama and Aleppo. Capturing them, government forces will expand their control over this strategic logistical line and further outflanking the important militant stronghold of Halfaya located west of Taibat al-Imam.
The map below allows to see the current advance (red arrows), and the expected operation aimed on retaking Halfata (blue arrows).
In comparison with Buwaidah and Masasnah, Halfaya is a “major” town. In 2004, it had a population of 21,180. The town is currently controlled by Free Syrian Army factions loyal to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Halfaya the last major militant stronghold in the area between Mahardeh and Taibat al-Imam.
The Mahardeh power station is an important site located west of Halfaya. Securing the power station and Halfaya, government forces will be able to improve the security and the humanitarian situation in the northern countryside of Hama.
Thus, Halfaya is a current goal of the government advance in northern Hama.
If (when) government forces, led by the Tiger Forces and the 5th Assault Corps recapture Halfaya, they will likely turn their advance in the direction of Lataminah – another important militant-held town that serves as a rear base for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies.