With ISIS already engaged in major offensives against Kurdish territory in Kobani (Aleppo Province) and Hasakeh (Hasakeh Province), as well as pushing deeper into the Homs Province, ISIS opened yet another front this weekend in Syria, attacking military checkpoints in the eastern Hama Province.
The checkpoints, around the village of Sheikh Hilal, were quickly overrun by an ISIS offensive this weekend, which saw at least 40 soldiers killed. The ISIS fighters withdrew, however, just as Syrian reinforcements began to arrive in the area.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights noted attacks in the area are an almost daily occurrence for ISIS, but usually the toll is only two or three people. Overrunning three checkpoints and killing 40 people must be seen as a significant escalation, potentially opening a new front outright.
While Sheikh Hilal is itself another village of little vlaue, it is along a key highway leading to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. The road near the checkpoints is a key route for Syrian reinforcements into Aleppo, which remains contested between them and assorted rebel factions.