Syrian Forces Seize Key Northern Hama Territory From Rebels

Offensive Reverses Rebels' August Gains

by Jason Ditz, October 09, 2016

In late August and early September, a group of Islamist rebels led by Jund al-Aqsa gained a substantial amount of territory in the northern part of the Hama Province, even nearing the capital city of Hama. The gains included substantial numbers of both Christian and Alawite villages, with concerns they would face purges by the Islamists.

Over the weekend, however, the Syrian military seems to be reversing those gains almost entirely, overrunning a number of towns and villages which had previously been held by the rebels, and pushing them back toward the Idlib Province, which is dominated by the Nusra Front.

Fighting in Hama has been very intermittent over the past year, with both sides tending to amass big gains in relatively short periods of time, only to see all the fighting there stall for weeks or sometimes months on end with both sides look elsewhere for easier opportunities.

The Jund al-Aqsa-led forces are seen getting closer with the Nusra Front in recent days, as the fighting in Aleppo has given Nusra major amounts of publicity, and sympathy amongst rival rebels. This likely made the forces in Hama another target, to try to limit the number of directions from which reinforcements could come into Aleppo.

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