Euphrates Shield Rebel Groups Participate in Hama Countryside Battles

The presence of Euphrates Shield fighters marks the first time that they have fought the regime since 2016 reports Alsouria Net.

Fighters from formations in the “National Army,” which operates in the Euphrates Shield areas in the northern Aleppo countryside have headed to the northwestern Hama countryside fronts to take part in the fighting against regime forces for the first time since August 2016.

A commander in the National Army told Alsouria Net that, “fighters numbering in the hundreds have headed out to the fronts in the Hama countryside individually. This cannot be considered a decision from the National Army command.”

He added: “The fighters who headed to the Hama countryside are from the Third Corps, led by Jabhat al-Shamia, and the fighters who went belonged in part to a Jaish al-Azzeh faction of the Eastern Martyrs.”

This comes as regime forces continue the fighting in the western Hama and northern Lattakia countrysides without achieving any notably major gains over the last two days because of rebel groups striking on more than one front.

This came after Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s commander Abou Mohamed al-Jolani said in a video released by he group’s Abaa agency, that he did not object to rebels from the Aleppo countryside coming to Idleb to join the fighting against regime forces.

The participation of groups from the Aleppo countryside in the Hama countryside fighting is considered to be the first since the Euphrates Shield campaign, which was launched by Free Syrian Army groups in August 2016 with Turkish support and the Olive Branch campaign in February 2018.

The arrival of the fighters who mobilized from the Euphrates Shield to the Hama countryside fronts has not been announced officially, and this step was preceded by the arrival of fighters from Ahrar al-Sham to the western Hama countryside—these were the ones who had been forced by Tahrir al-Sham to leave the Hama countryside during its campaign at the start of this year.

Turkey is backing the National Army in the northern Aleppo countryside alongside the National Front for Liberation, whose operations are concentrated in Idleb province and the Hama and Idelb countrysides, with military bases in the Afrin area and its environs.

A number of rebel groups are participating in repelling the regime advance in the Hama countryside, most prominently the National Front and the Jaish al-Azzeh in the northern Hama countryside, as well as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, whose fighters are deployed across nearly all of the northern Syrian fronts.

On Saturday, the National Front said that it had rejected an offer for a ceasefire in northern Syria after Russia asked for one from Turkey.

It said that its acceptance of a ceasefire would be based on the condition that regime forces and militias withdraw from the areas to which they advanced in Qalaat al-Madiq and its environs as well as the town of Kafr Naboudeh in the northwestern Hama countryside.

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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