While the Syrian military has been busy repelling al-Qaeda-led offensives against the Damascus district of Jobar, a secondary rebel offensive in the Hama Province over the past two days has made mounting gains, with 11 towns and villages reported to have fallen since then.
Syrian military officials say the rebels’ advance has been stalled since then, and that they are now waiting for reinforcements to launch a counterattack, in the hopes of recovering the lost territory in short order. Peace talks scheduled to resume this week may complicate matters.
Throughout the war, there have been repeated scrambles in anticipation of peace talks, with either side trying to capture last second advantages and then use the pause during the talks to reinforce and keep those positions. Counterattacks during the talks are always condemned as “aggression.”
This whole assumption of the talks impacting Hama is predicated, of course, on the talks actually happening in a meaningful way. The last round of talks in Astana saw no rebels attend at all, and if the rebels don’t bother to show for the new Geneva talks, they also won’t be there to really complain about the Syrian military trying to reclaim those lost villages.