One of the most well-trained and equipped formations of the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) 5th Assault Corps has recently been battling it out with ISIS forces north of the road that links the Furqlus junction to the T-4 Airbase.
Recently, images were released of the elite ISIS Hunters, a sub-formation within the SAA 5th Assault Corps, engaged against ISIS forces in a defensive operation to protect the critical – and highly vulnerable – section of front that stenches from the Furqlus road junction to the Hayyan gas complex
Whilst most front-line media attention has been focused on military developments in the battlespaces east of Palmyra, in the province of Raqqa and in the Syrian Badia, what has been overlooked is that ISIS has been launching spoiling operations north of the Farqlus and T-4 areas as part of a preliminary action in preparation for a massive offensive to regain the strategic initiative in eastern Homs.
In recent weeks, ISIS has launched a number of powerful probing attacks in the direction of the T-4 Airbase and the Furqlus crossroads, attempting find a weak spot in the SAA’s lines for a possible offensive to cut the Homs to Palmyra highway, overrun the T-4 Airbase and re-seize the Hayyan gas complex and its surrounding fields.
Information on this military plan by ISIS has already been by disclosed by an injured Islamic State militant who was captured by the ISIS Hunters several weeks ago.
In many respects, this is why the liquidation of the ISIS-held bastion in east Hama is so important for the pro-government cause, for so long as ISIS has thousands of veteran troops (as it currently does) buried in the countryside north of the Homs to Palmyra Highway, then critical infrastructures such as the T-4 Airbase and Hayyan gas complex will never been completely safe.