Hama offensive (September 2017)

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Hama offensive (September 2017)
Part of the Syrian Civil War and Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War
Hama 23 septembre 2017.jpg
Military situation in the northern Hama Governorate and the southern Idlib Governorate on 23 September 2017.
Date19–29 September 2017
(1 week and 3 days)
LocationNorthwestern Syria
Result

Indecisive

  • The rebels initially captured four villages, before they were recaptured by the Syrian Army[4]
  • A Syrian Army counterattack captured an additional two villages, before they were recaptured by the rebels[5]
Belligerents
Tahrir al-Sham
Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria[1]
Ahrar al-Sham[2]
Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army
Sham Legion[3]

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

 Russia
Units involved

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army

Syrian Armed Forces

Russian Armed Forces

Casualties and losses
168 killed[11] Syria 42 killed[12][13]
Russia 3 wounded[14]
197 civilians killed[15]

The Hama offensive (September 2017), code-named Oh Servants of God, Be Steadfast, was a military offensive launched by rebel groups led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) north of the city Hama, as part of the Syrian Civil War.[1][16]

Background[edit]

In March 2017, rebels led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham launched an unsuccessful offensive against the Syrian Armed Forces north of Hama. Although they achieved territorial gains in the first month of the offensive, occupying more than double the territory, after seven days, a counter-offensive was launched by government forces and their allies, recapturing territory. By April, government forces fully expelled the rebels from the initial position of the offensive.

The offensive[edit]

Tahrir al-Sham-led attack[edit]

On 19 September, members of Tahrir al-Sham, alongside the TIP and militants aligned to the FSA, launched an offensive on pro-government and Russian Armed Forces positions overseeing the process of the de-escalation of the zone in the province of Idlib following an agreement with Turkey and Iran in negotiations in Astana in May 2017.[1][17][18] Reports of the ensuing fighting were contradictory.[18] The rebels initially captured four villages,[19] but after back-and-forth fighting[20] during which the villages changed hands several times,[21][22][23] government forces recaptured all of the villages by 22 September.[4] Russia stated it had killed 850 rebel fighters by 21 September.[24] In contrast, SOHR reported that 66 rebels and 38 soldiers were killed during the offensive,[12] as well as more than 40 civilians over two days in nearly 500 air-strikes on about 40 towns and villages in retaliation for the rebel offensive.[25] There were also rebel claims of government and Russian airstrikes on civilian targets in Idlib, including medical facilities.[18] The Russian Air Force and Russian Navy conducted air and cruise missile strikes against HTS targets, reportedly including a large military camp.[26][27] The US State Department accused Syria and Russia, besides bombing civilian targets, of also targeting medical facilities.[28] One of the three allegedly bombed hospitals[29] was the al-Rahma clinic in Khan Shaykhun, which treated victims of the chemical attack there in April.[30]

Syrian Army counter-attack and air-strikes[edit]

During the offensive, rebel-held towns in the Idlib Governorate, such as Bidama, above, were again hit by Syrian and Russian airstrikes, the first series of airstrikes in the area since the ceasefire attempt from July 2017.

On 23 September, Russian air-strikes targeted rebels in Idlib and Hama governorates, including a Faylaq al-Sham headquarters in the area of Tal Mardiqh in Idlib province, leaving at least 45 rebels dead.[31] There were multiple other Russian airstrikes in Hama and Idlib, including on Khan Sheikhoun, Jisr al-Shaqour, Saraqeb and Kafr Sajna.[32][33] Around 40 people were reported killed in airstrikes on 24 September.[34]

Concurrently, the Syrian Arab Army launched a counter-offensive in the northern part of the Hama, capturing two villages.[35] However, a strong rebel counter-attack in the evening forced government troops to retreat. The next morning, government forces once again attacked the villages, supported by Russian combat helicopters.[5] On 25 September, the Army made a new attempt to capture the two villages.[36] However, two days later, government forces withdrew from their positions around the villages.[37]

Airstrikes by the government and its allies continued over the following days. On 25 September, Syria Civil Defence claimed that airstrikes resulted in over 40 deaths in Idlib.[38] On 26 September, there were reports of a fifth hospital in rebel territory targeted, the Sham 4 hospital in Kafr Nabl, Idlib.[39] On 27 September, another 43 deaths were reported in towns in Idlib, including Khan Shaykhun and Jisr al-Shughur, as a result of the campaign.[40] By 28 September, Syria Civial Defence had reported more than 152 civilian dead in the bombing campaign and that six hospitals had now been targeted, displacing urban residents into rural areas.[41] The bombing campaign was halted on the night of 29 September.[15]

Aftermath[edit]

On 6 October, HTS launched an attack northeast of Hama, capturing al-Msherfeh and several other nearby areas. However, the military recaptured most of the territory lost the next day,[42][43] except al-Msherfeh and Tal Aswad.[44] At least 12 rebels were killed in the fighting,[45] as well as eight government soldiers.[46] On 8 October, the rebels captured Abu Dali and Tal Maqta'a.[47]

On 6 November, Tahrir al-Sham alongside Jaysh al-Izza, Jaysh al-Nasr and the Central Division began a large-scale offensive, capturing three villages in the northern countryside of Hama.[48][49] However, one day later, one village was recaptured by the Syrian Arab Army after a full day of clashes against the rebels.[50] During the morning of 8 November, a second village was recaptured.[51][52]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Sarah el Deeb (Associated Press) (19 September 2017). "Al-Qaida-led fighters on the offensive against Syrian troops". ABC News. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  2. ^ Leith Fadel (22 September 2017). "Rival jihadist rebel factions launch joint attack against SAA troops in east Hama". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b Andrew Illingworth (23 September 2017). "Russian airstrike against Turkey-backed militants kills, wounds nearly 100 fighters". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Airstrikes continue on cities, towns and villages in the countryside of Hama and Idlib to causing more casualties and wounded". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
  5. ^ a b "Russian helicopters support Syrian Army in north Hama offensive [+Photos]". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 24 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  6. ^ a b Leith Fadel (24 September 2017). "[Graphic 18+] Jihadist corpses litter northern Hama battlefield – video". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  7. ^ Leith Fadel (24 September 2017). "Elite pro-government forces head to northern Hama for upcoming offensive: video". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b Chris Tomson (21 September 2017). "VIDEO: Russian Army intervenes in northern Hama, drives back Al-Qaeda militants". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  9. ^ Zen Adra (24 September 2017). "Russian helicopters support Syrian Army in north Hama offensive [+Photos]". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Video footage of the Russian submarine attack on Idlib". al-Masdar News. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  11. ^ "10 days of bombing by warplanes of Russian and the regime kill and injure about 570 civilians in about 1400 raids on the provinces of Idlib and Hama".
  12. ^ a b "During about 48 hours in Hama and Idlib … about 500 raids Russian and Syrian – targeting to about 40 area – more than 130 casualties – exchange of control clashes". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
  13. ^ Graphic video: Syrian Army takes losses after Al-Qaeda fends off Hama counteroffensive
  14. ^ Breaking of Idlib siege leaves three Russian servicemen wounded
  15. ^ a b After killing about 200 citizens and injuring 500 others during 11 consecutive days… raids of the Russian as well as the regime’s warplanes has been stopping their targeting to Idlib, Hama and Aleppo since last night
  16. ^ "Bombardment returns to rebel-held northwest as HTS aims to 'demolish, defeat' Astana ceasefire". Syria Direct. 19 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Russia, Syria intensify bombing of rebel-held Idlib, witnesses say". Reuters. 25 September 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  18. ^ a b c Scott Lucas Syria Daily: Rebels Attack in North Hama — Regime Airstrikes Pound Idlib, EAWorldview 20 September 2017
  19. ^ "About 60 fighters and soldiers were killed during the first day of the battle of ((The Last Attempt)) in the far northeast of Hama". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  20. ^ "During about 48 hours in Hama and Idlib … about 500 raids Russian and Syrian – targeting to about 40 area – more than 130 casualties – exchange of control clashes". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  21. ^ "Syrian army strikes rebels near Hama: monitor". Reuters. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017 – via Reuters.
  22. ^ "Syrian Army officially retakes all lost territory in northern Hama". Al-Masdar News. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  23. ^ "Airstrikes continue on the countryside of Idlib and Hama and violent clashes renewed with factions' offensive northeast Hama". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  24. ^ Russia Claims to Have Killed 850 Militants in Idlib Since Tuesday, Syria Deeply, 21 September 2017
  25. ^ "Russian special forces helping Syrian troops in key city". ABC News. 21 September 2017.
  26. ^ "Russian airstrike destroys Al-Qaeda military camp in rural Idlib". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Video footage of the Russian submarine attack on Idlib". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  28. ^ "US accuses Russia, Syria of hitting civilian targets in Idlib, Hama". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  29. ^ Airstrikes target hospitals in Syria's Idlib province, CNN, 19 September 2017
  30. ^ Rad Sanchez, Hospital that treated Syrian chemical attack victims bombed in widespread air strikes, Telegraph, 22 September 2017
  31. ^ "Russian strikes kill 45 Syrian rebels: monitor". Daily Mail.
  32. ^ Russia, Syria intensify bombing of rebel-held Idlib, witnesses, Reuters, 24 September 2017
  33. ^ Tens of fighters are still missing under the rubble caused by airstrikes which killed 22 fighters, SOHR, 23 September 2017
  34. ^ Pro-regime forces intensify attacks on rebel-held areas after months of relative calm, Syria Direct, 25 September 2017
  35. ^ "BREAKING: Elite Syrian forces make huge advance in north Hama, liberate 2 key towns". Al-Masdar News. 23 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  36. ^ "Regime's helicopters and warplanes bomb northeast of Hama with renewed attack by the regime forces". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
  37. ^ BREAKING: Syrian Army retreats from key towns in north Hama, Al-Masdar News
  38. ^ White Helmets: 40+ Killed on Monday by Russian-Regime Airstrikes on Idlib, EA Worldview, 26 September 2017
  39. ^ Syria: Fifth hospital attacked in Idlib, The Nation, 26 September 2017
  40. ^ The death toll increases in Jisr Al-Shughur and the regime forces shell areas in Daraa Al-Balad, SOHR, 27 September 2017
  41. ^ Syria Daily: More than 150 Killed in Russian-Regime Bombing of Idlib, EAWorldview, 28 September 2017
  42. ^ Syrian Army reverses jihadist gains in northern Hama
  43. ^ At least 12 fighters of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham and the factions were killed in the northern countryside of Hama
  44. ^ "What HTS Achieved In Abu Daly Battle? - Qasion News Agency". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  45. ^ Regime forces renew attempts to regain what they lost northeast of Hama and the factions continue their offensive
  46. ^ Ivan Sidorenko on Twitter
  47. ^ "Qasioun Map: HTS seizes new areas southern Idlib 8-10-2017 - Qasion News Agency". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  48. ^ "In pictures: Al-Qaeda, Free Syrian Army join forces in huge Hama counter-offensive". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  49. ^ "VIDEO: Al-Qaeda rebels obliterate Syrian Army tank amid Hama counter-offensive". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 7 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  50. ^ "Syrian Army retakes lost town in northeastern Hama as jihadist defensive line buckles". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 7 November 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  51. ^ "Syrian Army fights back in northern Hama, recaptures more lost territory". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  52. ^ More than 140 raids by Russian planes target villages of the northern countryside of Hama since the hours of last night pave for advancement of the regime forces in the area