Roundup: Syrian army withdraws from key town in Hama after rebels’ counter-offensive

The Syrian army withdrew on Wednesday from the western town of Kafr Nabudah in the countryside of Hama Province, just days after taking the town from the rebels, as a result of rebels’ massive counter-offensive, activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Kafr Nabudah fell back under the control of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the umbrella group of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

The Syrian forces are heavily shelling the town and other rebel-held areas in a bid to take the town back, it added.

Meanwhile, a well-informed source in the western-central province of Hama told Xinhua that the rebels attacked Kafr Nabudah from nine directions, before the army withdrew the area as part of a military tactic to protect other areas retaken by the army during the current showdown in Hama.

The rebels launched their attack by sending nine suicide bombers of foreign descent, the military source said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier in the day, state news agency SANA said the Syrian army foiled a series of major rebel attacks on military sites in Hama and its neighboring northern province of Idlib.

The attacks targeted areas and military sites in the northern countryside of Hama and the adjacent southern countryside of Idlib, said SANA.

The army, however, inflicted heavy losses on the rebels of the HTS.

The counter-offensive is an attempt by the rebels to raise morale after their consecutive defeats in the battles with the army, according to SANA.

Notably, the Syrian official news agency accused Turkey of providing the HTS with weapons, as the army is fighting against the HTS in its last major strongholds in northwestern Syria.

These areas are included in a de-escalation zones’ deal established in September 2018 by Russia and Turkey.

The deal didn’t materialize as battles have escalated since late last month.