On July 10, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies launched a surprise attack on positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in northern Hama and captured the town of al-Hamameyat and the nearby hill.
According to the group’s news agency, Iba’a, militants destroyed a battle tank and a Shilka self-propelled gun belonging to the SAA. The loss of al-Hamameyat became the first serious SAA setback since April, when pro-government forces launched a limited operation in the area.
On July 11, the SAA and the National Defense Forces, backed up by Russian and Syrian warplanes, launched an attack to take back the town. According to pro-government sources, SAA and NDF units successfully broke the militants’ defense and recaptured al-Hamameyat.
Some 5 militants were killed in the clashes. Pro-militant sources also claimed that 2 SAA battle tanks were destroyed, but there was no video evidence to confirm this claim.
On the same day, the Turkish-backed National Syrian Army claimed that it had shot down a Russian Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicle near Maraanaz in northern Aleppo.
Pro-government sources say that poor organization of the defenses and repeated ceasefires allowing militant groups to regroup and resupply their forces were among the reasons behind the crisis in northern Hama. Nonetheless, it remains unlikely that the SAA and its allies will carry out a large-scale operation in the Idlib zone anytime soon because of the complicated military and political situation in the region.
Therefore, security issues around it will continue to appear.
According to the UK, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps attempted to stop oil tanker British Heritage in the Strait of Hormuz. The Royal Navy’s HMS Montrose allegedly “pointed its guns at the boats and warned them over radio, at which point they dispersed”.
The IRGC rejected the British claims saying that there was “no encounter with foreign ships, including British ones” in the region at that time. Despite this, the British media has already labeled the situation a major victory of British arms over Iran.
On July 4, British marines seized an Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar under the pretext that the vessel was suspected of carrying crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. The July 10 situation will likely be used by the US-led bloc to increase sanctions pressure on Iran.