The Islamic State (ISIS) group on Tuesday seized control of 14 villages in the east of Hama and Idleb following the defeat and subsequent withdrawal of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) from the area.
Local activists told SMART that ISIS militants took the villages of Abla, Aub al-Qana, Tal al-Halawa, Jub al-Safa, Qasr Ibn Wardan, Rasm al-Tina, Telal al-Humor, Rasm al-Anz and Madahi in eastern Hama, as well as the villages of Jub al-Othman, Jub al-Ruman, Masada, Tarqawi and Tel al-Halawa in eastern Idleb.
The activists said that the HTS fighters withdrew from the area after being surrounded by pro-Assad forces from the east and west, with ISIS approaching from the south. The activists did not provide information about the casualties from both sides.
In January 2017, ISIS gained control of the villages of Rasm al-Hamam and Haways Ibn Hadeeb in eastern Hama after clashes with HTS militants. The ISIS advance coincides with the advance of pro-Assad forces in the eastern countryside of Idleb.
In the course of their campaign in Idleb, Assad loyalist forces backed by Russian air power have gained control of dozens of villages, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians and destroying the infrastructure in addition to displacing 80,000 residents.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.