BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:00 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies are preparing to launch the second phase of their northwestern Syria offensive. The first phase, which concentrated on the last areas under the control of the militants in northwestern Hama, paved the way for the Syrian Arab Army to reach the Jabal Shashabo area and the jihadist-held Al-Ghaab Plain.
The second phase of the offensive will concentrate on the Al-Ghaab Plain, which has been disputed since the Jaysh Al-Fateh offensive in the Spring of 2015. In order for this offensive to be successful, the Syrian Army will also need to capture the key mountaintop town of Kabani, which overlooks much of the Al-Ghaab Plain and the nearby city of Jisr Al-Shughour. This offensive will likely be successful if they can expel Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and the Turkestan Islamic Party from Kabani. (AMN)
An almost 17 minute ANNA News video with English subtitles is attached to the AMN article. It shows the terrain over which the Tiger Force fought and the nature of the combat. I could relate to the infantry leader exhorting his men to spread out as they advanced on the jihadis. That’s a constant chore of the infantry platoon leader and squad leader. I found the drone footage especially interesting. The jihadis were being spotted and picked off whenever they moved. I don’t know if it was due to armed drones, drone guided artillery shells or air strikes, but it sure as hell was working.
The jihadis continue to launch counterattacks in attempts to retake territory now occupied by the Tiger Force. Each time they are repulsed with heavy casualties. Turkish-backed jihadis from the Euphrates Shield group have reinforced the jihadis already in northwestern Hama and have taken especially heavy casualties. These jihadis have been withdrawn from the front line.
To the north, the 4th Armored Division is still trying to take the mountaintop town of Kabani. They tried three times so far and were repulsed three times. Wisely, the SAA is not willing to take massive casualties to take objectives. This is something I noticed several years ago before the Russians fully committed to assisting the SAA. I think it’s a desirable trait of a well trained, well disciplined and effective army. The SAA has reinforced the 4th AD with a group from the Tiger Force. Russian and Syrian airstrikes continue to hit the jihadis in and around Kabani. The SAA will take the town and will then have fire control over the northern al—Ghaab Plain and the city of Jisr al-Shugur. The jihadi positions will become untenable. The Tiger Force with then have a relatively easy drive north to Jisr al-Shugur.