Intense battles raged on Friday in northern Hama between Russian-backed regime forces and Ankara-supported factions, which said they seized three key villages in the province’s countryside.
“The factions ended the first phase of the battle that raged at several fronts in the countryside of Hama. They have also broken the last defense line along the town of Karnaz, and controlled the strategic Tal Maleh, the towns of al-Jbain and Kafrhood, in addition to a number of military positions in the countryside of northern Hama,” said a military leader from the National Liberation Front.
The leader added that the Front killed more than 50 regime forces, including around 27 in two suicide operations on the outskirts of Karnaz and within the borders of Jamlah village in the rural parts of Hama.
The battles in Hama raged as the Turkish Army brought additional military reinforcements, including soldiers and weapons, to posts on the border with Syria.
Military sources said that more than 30 armored vehicles have moved from Hatay’s town of Kirikhan to positions along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Meanwhile, opposition activists published on Friday photos showing a Syrian fighter jet, they said was attacked with an anti-aircraft missile by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham while it was flying a sortie over Idlib province on Friday.
The warplane is the first to be shot down by opposition factions in more than a year.
Observers said Ankara offered the factions military support, including a tank, which regime forces targeted at a Turkish position in the countryside of Hama.
A battlefield regime forces commander admitted that “factions had launched an attack on several fronts in rural Hama,” saying a counter-attack was later staged by government troops on Friday morning.