September 18, 2014
Regime forces took control over the villages of Arza and Rahbat Khatab in early September as they pushed rebels back from the Hama military airport. With that, the Badr a-Sham campaign, announced last month and which had racked up a rapid succession of wins as it edged closer to the military airport, was over.
The Hama military airport is the site from which planes carrying out air strikes are launched in addition to the deadly, indiscriminate barrel bomb attacks both in Hama and Aleppo provinces.
The rebels haven’t completely given up, says Sarmad Khalil, a media activist with the Hama News Center. While they will not try again for the airport, “they are thinking about beginning a new battle under a new name, and probably focusing on different areas,” Khalil tells Syria Direct’s Mohammed al-Haj Ali.
Q: How will regime control over Halfaya affect the greater Badr a-Sham campaign?
The greater Badr a-Sham campaign is now over.
The campaign had aimed to gain control of Khatab and Arza and advance towards the Hama military airport.
Some brigades that participated in the campaign are thinking about beginning a new battle under a new name, and probably focusing on different areas, not necessarily those that they lost [recently].
The city of Halfaya after Nusra’s withdrawal. Photo courtesy of @braaa461.
Q: Can the rebels count any gains from the Badr a-Sham battle?
The rebels reached Jamarik circle, considered one of the main regime checkpoints around the city of Hama, located on the west side.
Rebels also captured large amounts of weapons and ammunition from Rahbat Khatab and other military depots.
Q: Why is the regime intensifying bombing over Mourek right now? Why is Mourek important?
The regime is bombing Mourek right now in order to exhaust the rebels there—additionally, they want to open up the international highway north of Hama.
Q: A call to arms was announced in Hama. Why? Did it achieve anything up until now?
The call to arms was announced by the Sharia Council in Hama [on September 16]. The goal was to push all FSA brigades, with all of their capabilities, to the open fronts in Hama and to liberate areas that the regime recently took control of.
As for your question, the call to arms did not affect the military situation. There is already an attempt among the FSA to reorder their ranks, and to regain control of those areas that the regime captured recently.
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