On Friday, a man and a child were killed during an airstrike in the small town of Alteh, which also injured several other civilians, the White Helmets has alleged. At the same time, in Hama, located south of Alteh, dozens of bombs are pounding the city. These events mark the prelude to a major offensive against the biggest still rebel-held enclave in Syria.
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (The Rational Times) — Last week, we reported that the Syrian Army was advancing towards two of the last four Islamic State(IS/Daesh, previously ISIS/ISIL)-held pockets of the country — Dara’a and Sweida. Since then, as the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights writes, Dara’a has been fully “liberated” by the Syrian government, which are still fighting terrorists in Sweida.
But now, the Syrian Army has redirected its focus to the government’s territory’s northern frontiers, Idlib province, which are under control of dozens of rebel groups.
The province’s dominant rebel group is the jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which core element is the formerly al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra group. The second biggest group is the newly formed Islamist National Liberation Front, which creation was announced on August 1 as a merger between the Ahrar al-Sham and Nureddine al-Zinki militias.
Knowing that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are on their way, HTS terrorists have ramped up a security campaign in their territory by arresting people for having ties to the Damascus government, al-Masdar News reports.
“More than 30 barrel bombs and bomb raids targeted the area of al-Tamanah and Sukayk area in southern Idlib province”, Idlib24 tweeted on Friday, adding that no casualties have been reported.
In Hama, terrorists will most probably remind local people of the 1982 massacre that took place in the city. Back then, the city had been taken over by Islamists belonging to the Syrian faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, prompting the Syrian government, headed by President Hafez al-Assad — Bashar al-Assad’s father — to take action.
In the ensuing massacre, that took place in February, somewhere between 2,000 to 40,000 people were slaughtered, depending on the source.