3 min read  | Hama, Interviews, Politics

Hama heats up as rebels capture checkpoints

August 12, 2014

August 12, 2014

A coalition of rebel groups operating under the umbrella of the Badr Sham al-Kubra operations room —including Jabhat a-Nusra, Ajnad a-Sham, and Soqour a-Sham, among others—took control of two regime checkpoints, al-Bejo and al-Majdal, in Hama province near the city of Mherda on the night of August 6th.

In doing so, rebels cut off regime supply lines between Mherda and the Hama military airport, representing a vital step in the rebels’ plan to capture both strategic, regime-held locations.

 Mherda is a “center for launching regime operations in the surrounding areas,” Mohammed Abu Zaid, a pro-opposition citizen activist in Hama city, tells Syria Direct’s Osama Abu Zaid.

As for the military airport, Abu Zaid says, “it’s a center for supplying regime bases in the northern and central regions with ammunition, and it is the principal location for making barrel bombs.”

Q: Why are rebels trying to gain control of Mherda?

The rebels want to spread their control over the city of Mherda because of its importance as a center for launching regime operations in the surrounding areas, to say nothing of the presence of centers and camps for training shabiha (regime-affiliated gangs) within the city.

Mherda MapCourtesy of Wikimapia. 

Q: What is the strategic importance of the Hama military airport?

The airport is considered one of the most important points of regime concentration in the area. It’s a center for supplying regime bases in the northern, and central regions with ammunition, and it is the principal location for making barrel bombs. In addition, it’s used as a prison for those captured by elements from the air force intelligence branch in Hama and the surrounding areas.

Q: Which battalions participated in the attack on the  al-Bejo and al-Majdal checkpoints?

Badr Sham al-Kubra operations room undertook the attack. The operation room includes several battalions: Lewa Jund al-Rahman, Jabhat a-Sham, battalion 111, Syria’s Rebel Front, Ajnad a-Sham, Battalions 13, Hazm Movement, a-Sham Legion, Soqour a-Sham, Battalions 101, Jabhat al-Enqath and Jabhat a-Nusra.

Q: What is the importance of these two checkpoints?

Their importance lies in their location, along the main supply route for regime forces in Mherda and the western portion of Hama province. The checkpoints fall on the southern entrance of Mherda, which the rebels are trying to gain control of.

Q: Don’t you think attacking the military airbase might affect Hama city residents in the future? Especially since Hama city holds those displaced from other areas?

First, the battles are relatively far from the city, which is considered the most important center for displaced people. 

I repeat: The battles [will take place] far from civilians, unless if the regime wants to undertake revenge operations by bombing the innocent people.

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