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DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:50 A.M.) – On Friday afternoon, units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) stormed the village of Zalaqiyat in northern Hama and engaged in heavy firefights with entrenched insurgents loyal to Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS).

Led by the SAA’s 5th Legion, government troops advanced across the Orontes River south of Zalaqiyat and managed to enter the village despite heavy resistance.

HTS later claimed it had recaptured its lost points although this could not be independently verified by Al-Masdar News. Heavy clashes continued at Zalaqiyat overnight.

Zalaqiyat is located just north of Halfaya in a region northwest of Hama city.

The attack was preluded by Syrian choppers swarming rearguard HTS positions while SAA artillery units pounded the jihadist supply lines between Lataminah, Markebeh and Al-Zakah with GRAD rockets. The Russian Air Force was not active in the area today.

Notably, the newly implemented ‘de-escalation zones’ cover Idlib province amongst other rebel-held areas. HTS is considered an Al-Qaeda franchise group and thus represents a legitimate target; thereby, the renewed SAA offensive appears to adhere to the Astana talks.

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