Elite force leads advance as extremists’ resistance melts away
SYRIAN army units and allied forces stepped up their drive against Isis in central Syria yesterday, advancing north from Homs province to the southern countryside of Raqqa.
Led by its elite force, the Syrian army advanced from the recently liberated al-Kadeer region towards the Bakhiran area on the Raqqa-Homs border.
Unable to hold their ground, Isis fighters withdrew from Bakhiran and nearby al-Areeka and al-Uthmaniyah, leaving this large desert region to the advancing pro-government forces.
Pressing forward towards the al-Kom and Taibah areas, which are all that remain under Isis control in this desert region after the capture of Sukhna, an army spokesman told al-Masdar News that the elite troops had already freed half of al-Kom after overrunning Isis front lines yesterday afternoon.
Once al-Kom and Taibah are freed, Isis will be fully besieged in central Syria.
Similar reports came from the north-east of Hama province, where army units led by the Republican Guard and reinforced by National Defence Forces and Syrian Social Nationalist Party paramilitaries, struck Isis positions south of Ithriya.
They freed the Kharaeb alKatnah area and nearby al-Ruwayj, positioning their forces at the outskirts of Bir Hasiyah, which is 10 miles south of Ithriya.
Hundreds of Syrian rebels and civilians left the Lebanon-Syria border area yesterday after a deal was reached for their departure following days of delay. Buses carrying members of the Levant People’s Brigades rebel group started moving from the Lebanese border town of Arsal in the direction of the Syrian village of Fleeta.
The evacuation comes nearly two weeks after more than 7,000 Syrians, many of them al-Qaidalinked fighters and their families, left Arsal following a Hezbollah offensive.
The Levant People’s Brigades, whose members did not take part in last month’s battles, are heading to the Syrian town of Ruhaiba, about 30 miles north-east of Damascus, where it is intended they will return to normal life following a government amnesty.
Rebels and government fighters have coexisted in Ruhaiba without fighting for over a year following a local de-escalation agreement.