Syrian insurgents gave forces loyal to President Bashar Assad in Hama province a 48 hour ultimatum to surrender or face death.
Qassem Saadeddine, a member of the newly established military command, said that orders have been given to fighters to surround and attack checkpoints across the province, in an operation to try and take control of the central province of Hama to expand the northern part of the country under their control into the center, a senior commander said on Sunday.
When we liberate the countryside of Hama province … then we will have the area between Aleppo and Hama liberated and open for us,” he told Reuters. That would cut Aleppo off from goverment forces and begin a seige of the largest city in Syria.
If successful the insurgent moves would also cut Damascus off from the Alawite mountains on the coast.
Rebels in Hama said that clashes in the town of Helfaya earlier on Sunday marked the beginning of the operation. They attacked army checkpoints outside the town. Syrian government forces used artillery and fighter jets in responding and killed at least 25 people.
Syrian troops have responded by engaging armed men near Maarabo and al-Mathoumeh villages of Talkalakh district in Homs Province. Dozens of gunmen were killed and wounded during the heavy clashes. Syrian Army troops also attacked militants in Muhradah city in Hama Province, where Government forces destroyed several cars used by terrorists, among them a pickup truck equipped with a heavy machine gun.
Near Damascus a number of armed men were killed during intense clashes with Syrian troops in Zamalka town – situated on the outskirts of the capital Damascus – on Sunday, the SANA news agency reported.
Syrian troops also destroyed several cars used by insurgents and seized a large amount of munitions after the battle.