Following the liberation of Khan Shaykhun, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies continued their advance on militant positions in the northern Hama pocket.
On August 22, government forces liberated the village of Sayyad, the Sayyad hilltop and several nearby points from members of radical militant groups remaining in the area. SAA units also advanced on Kafr Zita. The situation there is developing.
Additionally, the Syrian military opened a humanitarian corridor for civilians leaving the northern Hama pocket. The pocket is located in the area of Soran. Photos from the area show ‘green buses’ are already there. Pro-government media are joking that they will be used to evacuate Turkish troops from their ‘observation point’ near Morek. This ‘observation point’ became infamous after Turkey allowed various radical militants to use its surroundings to use it as a launching ground for attacks on SAA positions. This decision turned Turkish troops deployed there into human shields and led to casualties among Turkish personnel. Instead of removing militants from the area, Ankara expectedly blamed the ‘bloody Assad regime’ for these casualties.
Clashes are ongoing in northern Hama where the SAA, in particular the 4th Armoured Division, carried out another unsuccessful attempt to liberate the town of Kabanah from Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the Turkistan Islamic Party and Ajnad al-Kavkaz.
Suhaib Abu Khallad, a commander of al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din, was assassinated in the morning of August 22 in Idlib’s city center. Opposition sources said that unknown operatives had planted a magnetic improvised-explosive device under Abu Khallah’s car, which was parked near his apartment in the al-Jamiy’a district. The explosion killed the terrorist and injured another person. Abu Khallad was the second commander of Horas al-Din assassinated in August. The first one was Abu al-Walid al-Tunisi, who was killed in a similar way in the eastern Idlib town of Taftanaz.
In the coming days, the SAA and its allies will develop their operation in northern Hama in order to fully clear it from militants. After this, government forces will likely focus on strengthening the newly-gained positions and finally delivering a blow to radicals remaining in Kabanah.