The Syrian troops conducted a successful offensive on the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) positions in Eastern Hama exploiting the conflict between HTS and another jihadi group Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zanki.
After the clashes with HTS militants the SAA has liberated the village of al-Rabia. The operation is a part of a large-scale offensive that started in Ithriya area last week. The army units have penetrated HTS defenses and reached Jib al-Abid area, establish control over several villages. The final goal of the offensive is Abu al-Duhur military airport, which is currently held by the opposition forces.
These rapid advances were enabled by the infighting between HTS and Nour al-Din al-Zanki. The circumstances of the initial conflict remain unclear as both sides exchanged mutual accusations.
According to HTS-linked accounts on social media, an HTS commander Abu Ubaydayh was detained by Nour al-Din al-Zanki members without any explanation. In turn, a Sharia judge of Nour al-Din al-Zanki movement accused HTS of attacking a group’s position near Ratyan village and stealing the weapons that were stored there.
Nour al-Din al-Zanki used to bey a key unit within HTS before it quit the group this July over the controversy with the fight against Ahrar al-Sham.