2016 Hama offensive

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2016 Hama offensive
Part of the Syrian civil war and the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War
2016 Hama Offensive (Western Hama Governorate).svg
Date29 August – 6 November 2016
(2 months, 1 week and 1 day)
Location
Result

Partial rebel victory

Belligerents

Jund al-Aqsa (part of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham since 9 October)[1][2]

Army of Conquest[5]

Foreign mujahideen outside the Army of Conquest

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army[1]
Sham Legion[13]

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

Hezbollah[14]
SSNP[15]
Iranian paramilitaries[16]
border=no Guardians of the Dawn[17]
Supported by:
Russia (air strikes)

Commanders and leaders
Omran Jabayereh [7]
(Jund al-Aqsa senior commander)
Abu Rayan Al-Hamwi [4]
(leader of Abna al-Sham)
Abu Jassem al-Sourani [3]
(Abna al-Sham senior commander)
Emblem of the Jaish al-Fatah.svg Abu al-Baraa al-Hamawi[5]
(Army of Conquest commander)
Emblem of the Jaish al-Fatah.svg Abu Heidar al-Homawi [3]
(Army of Conquest commander)
Abu Mohammad Uzbeki [7]
(Turkistan Islamic Party senior commander)
Abu Omar Anatol [7]
(Turkistan Islamic Party commander)
Basel Marwan Al-Bakri [27]
(Ajnad al-Sham assault troops commander)
Abo Ahmad Nayef [28][29]
(Jabhat Ansar al-Din commander)
Abu Malek Al-Hamwi [4]
(Junud al-Sham top commander)
Logo of the Army of Glory.png Maj. Jamil Saleh[30]
Logo of the Army of Glory.png Mahmoud al-Mahmoud[31]
(Jaish al-Izza commander and spokesman)
Logo of the Army of Glory.png Abu Kinan[32]
(Jaish al-Izza commander)
Logo of the Army of Glory.png Mohammed al-Ashqar [6]
(Jaish al-Izza commander, alleged)
Logo of the Army of Glory.png Capt. Mustafa Marati[33]
(Jaish al-Izza commander)
Abu Ahmed[34]
(Jaysh al-Nasr commander)
Bassam Abo Duraid [35]
(Jaysh al-Nasr commander)
Baha'a Al-Nizal Executed[36]
(Jaysh al-Farouq commander of northern Hama operations)
Adnan Hababa [37]
(Jaysh al-Farouq commander)
Nayef al-Jar Abu Ahmad [38]
(Sham Legion commander)
Maj. Gen. Suheil Al Hassan[39]
(operations chief commander)
Brig. Gen. Ali Khallouf [40]
(11th Division commander)
Maj. Gen. Ali Sharaf Makhlouf [29][41]
(87th Mechanized Brigade commander)
Gen. Fadl al Din Myka'il[41]
(Syrian Army commander)
Brig. Gen. Mohamed Ali Habib [42]
(Syrian Army commander)
Col. Ali Shaheen[43]
(Panther Forces commander)[44]
Fuad al-Salah [45]
(Leopard Forces commander)
Hassan Mahfoudh[46]
(Military Security Shield Forces commander)
Osama Zamam [47]
(al-Assad Shield commander)
Darioush Dorostei [48]
(Iranian commander)
Units involved

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army

Syrian Armed Forces

SSNP

Strength
5,500 fighters[60] (pro-government claim)

4,000+[43][55]

  • 1,000+ regular soldiers[29]
  • 2,000+ Tiger Forces soldiers[41][61]
"Hundreds" of fighters[14]
Casualties and losses
217+ killed[18][32][62][63][64][65][66] 84+ killed (20 executed),[66][67][68][69] 1 helicopter downed[70]
27 civilians killed[71] (2 executed)[72]
100,000 people displaced[73]

The 2016 Hama offensive, codenamed as the Battle for the sake of God by the rebels,[30] was a military offensive operation launched by Syrian rebels during the Syrian Civil War in the northern parts of Hama Governorate as an attempt to relieve pressure on rebels fighting in Aleppo city.[50]

The offensive[edit]

Rebels advance[edit]

The operation began on 29 August, with two Jund al-Aqsa suicide car bombings against Syrian Army checkpoints near the village of al-Lataminah. Fierce fighting ensued, after which, the rebels managed to swiftly capture several villages. The local pro-government National Defense Forces militia were sent into a sudden and uncoordinated retreat, which lead to the rebels capturing the town of Halfaya.[1]

Over the next 24 hours, the Syrian Air Force conducted 52 airstrikes,[1] which killed at least 20 rebels,[32] and soon after the Army managed to temporarily recapture one village, before they were pushed back once again.[1] By the evening of 30 August, the rebels also managed to seize the town of Taybat al-Imam,[74] as well as two other nearby villages.[75] The next day, the rebels managed to enter the town of Suran, but were subsequently pushed back after failing to capture the town's center.[13] However, four hours later, a second rebel attack was launched which ultimately ended in the rebel capture of Suran.[76] Afterwards, the rebel forces led by Jund al-Aqsa began an attack on the Alawite village of Ma’an, claiming to already have captured a small barrier to the settlement's north and 4 checkpoints to the east.[53][77]

On 1 September, the rebels seized the town of Maardis, as well as a nearby village.[78][79] During their advances at Maardis, the rebels had seized a missile base that was being prepared by Russian forces for use.[80] Over the next four days, several unsuccessful Army counter-attacks were conducted in an attempt to recapture the town.[79][81][82][83][84][85] At the same time elsewhere, rebel attacks on the villages of Ma’an,[62] Kawkab[16] and Jubbayn, were repelled by government troops.[59]

On 2 September, a low-flying Aérospatiale Gazelle in the area was destroyed mid-air by a Jaish al-Izza BGM-71 TOW missile.[70][86] The next day, the Syrian Army temporarily recaptured Samam Hill,[87] before losing it again later in the day.[88] Two days later, government forces captured two hills overlooking the town of Qamhana, and forced the rebels to retreat from the town's outskirts.[54]

Army counter-attack, new rebel advance and stalemate[edit]

On 6 September, the Syrian Army repelled rebel assaults on Ma’an and the neighboring Karah village. In the process, Syrian Army units recaptured the village of Btaysh.[89] On 7 September, the Syrian Army and NDF units launched a new attack against Maardis and Taybat Al-Imam, clearing the area around Kawkab,[90] and recaptured three villages by 9 September.[91]

On 11 September, following a suicide attack against Army positions, the rebels captured Kawkab.[92] On 13–14 September, rebel forces launched several attacks near Maardis and Ma'an and took control of a number of checkpoints, though their assaults on the towns themselves were reportedly repelled by the government.[93][94][95]

As of 15 September, following the gains made in the previous two weeks, the rebels were preparing to start the second phase of their offensive to reach Hama city.[96] At the same time, government forces were mobilizing for a counter-attack to regain all territory they had lost.[97][98]

Further rebel gains[edit]

The Army launched its counter-attack on 21 September, and advanced, capturing a hilltop and several farms on the eastern edge of Maardis. The rebels claimed to had destroyed four Army tanks during the fighting[99][100] and that they captured and executed 20 soldiers.[67] The next day, the military seized several farms near Maardis.[101] However, on 23 September, rebel forces reversed all government gains during a counter-attack,[102] while there were conflicting reports on who controlled the village of Iskandariah.[102][103] On the same day, Russian warplanes bombed a rebel headquarters in cave in Taybat al-Imam, killing 22 rebel fighters from the Free Idlib Army.[63][104]

On 24 September, the rebels captured Ma’an and al-Kabariyyah after a short battle.[105][106] The Syrian Army subsequently launched a small-scale counter-attack, reentering al-Kabariyyah.[107]

On 27 September, the rebels once again advanced and captured six more villages.[108] On 28 September, according to the Syrian Army, Jund al-Aqsa used chemical weapons against pro-government defenders as the group attacked and captured Karah.[34][109] In response to the rebel's advances, several pro-government units were sent as reinforcements to Hama province[56][110] and soon after government forces announced a new counter-offensive,[111] which resulted in no gains.[112] By 29 September, the rebels had seized 42 towns, villages and hills.[19] Meanwhile, the rebel group Ahrar Darayya (originating from Darayya) merged with Jaysh al-Nasr and joined the battle in northern Hama.[51]

On 6 October, it was reported that Fuad al-Salah, the prominent leader of the 'Leopard Militia', was killed in northern Hama.[45]

Army counter-attack and government regains ground[edit]

On 8 October, taking advantage of rebel-infighting in the nearby Idlib province,[113] the Army launched a counter-attack and recaptured 10 villages (including Qarah), several hills,[114][115] two checkpoints and an airfield.[2] The military continued to advance towards other nearby villages, specifically Ma'an,[114] while a Russian air-strike directly hit a small convoy leaving Kawkab.[116]

On 9 October, the Army recaptured two more villages (Ma'an and Kubbariyah),[117] as well as parts of Kawkab.[118] Renewed fighting for Ma'an took place later that night,[119] and by the next day both villages were again rebel-held.[120] Subsequently, government troops launched a new assault on Ma'an,[121] and the town, along with nearby Kawkab, was heavily hit by air-strikes.[122] On 11 October, the Army seized Kawkab, as well as Kubbariyah once again.[123][124] A subsequent rebel counter-attack against Kawkab was repelled,[125] with the rebels reportedly suffering heavy casualties.[126][127][128] Two days later, the Army captured Ma'an, as well as a nearby hill.[22][129][130]

On 16 October, government forces seized Maardis and the village of Iskandariah.[131][132] The advance came after Army units managed to take control of the nearby Al-Abbadah hill the previous day[133] and establish fire control over Maardis.[134] The rebels subsequently launched a counter-attack before nightfall in an attempt to regain both Maardis and Iskandariah.[135][136] Government control of Maardis remained tenuous as fighting continued into the evening.[137] By the next day, the counter-attack had been repelled.[138] During the fighting, the rebels managed to temporarily regain the town[139] before losing it again.[66]

Early on 18 October, an Army assault on Suran started,[140] with government troops managing to capture a base near the town.[141][142] Government attempts to advance continued the next day.[143]

Early on 24 October, clashes took place around al-Remelia, near Salamiyah,[144] while the government prepared a new assault to regain Taybat al-Imam and Souran from the rebels.[145] Later on, the Army advanced west of Ma'an and into the eastern outskirts of Souran, leading to fierce clashes with rebel defenders.[146] The next day, the Army advanced west of Ma'an and recaptured Dharat Al-Fitas, Talat Khirbat and the Madajnah Checkpoint after pushing further towards the key town of Morek.[147][148] Meanwhile, Jund al-Aqsa fighters executed Baha'a Al-Nizal, the leading commander of Jaysh al-Farouq in northern Hama, for unknown reasons.[36] On 27 October, government forces advanced into Souran after capturing the nearby hilltop of Tal Al-Dour,[149] resulting in a fierce battle, which lasted until the rebels retreated, allowing the Army to secure the town completely.[25][150][151] Meanwhile, clashes also took place in Taybat al-Imam.[152]

Between 28 October and 4 November, the military made advances north of Souran and Ma'an, capturing a checkpoint,[153] the village Al-Buwaydah and several hills.[26][154][155][156] On 4 November, the military continued its advance and took three checkpoints south of the rebel stronghold of Morek.[157][158]

On 5 November, the military advanced at the village of Lehaya, south of Morek.[159] Concurrently, the rebels launched a counterattack, capturing a checkpoint and Shalyut village to the north of Mhardeh.[160][161][162] However, subsequently, after the arrival of military reinforcements, government forces recaptured all lost territory.[163][164] Still, on 6 November, the rebels managed to recapture two checkpoints and a hill south of Morek that they had lost earlier.[165][166]

Aftermath[edit]

On 24 November, the Syrian Army recaptured a small village and a hilltop near Ma'an from the rebels just a few days after they had lost them in a rebel attack.[167]

On 21 March 2017, rebel groups led by Tahrir al-Sham launched another offensive in northern Hama, with the aim to recapture the towns of Suran and Maardis, which was recaptured by the SAA during the 2016 offensive. The offensive began with the launch of two suicide car-bombs.[168]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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