Intense clashes in Syrian city of Hama continue between the Syrian Arab Army and opposition forces.
Rebel forces are approaching from the north of the city after launching a major offensive on Syrian regime positions over a week ago. Recent developments have seen the rebel forces take control over Souran, the second largest city in the northern Hama, as well as Maardis and Rahbat Khattab.
Oppositions fighters are now reportedly looking to make incursions into the town of Qamhana, the first line of defence before the city of Hama and the Shabiha [‘regime enforcers’]. The Hama military airport and the government headquarters inside the city, around 4 to 6 kilometres away from their current positions, are understood to be future targets for the rebels.
In recent fighting in the north, more than 10 tanks and military vehicles were destroyed during the clashes whilst another 10 had been seized by the opposition. The clashes led to more than 200 government forces members and supporting militias being killed or injured, most notably two major generals and two generals from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and a military leader from Hezbollah militias.
Meanwhile as the fighting intensifies, 40,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. People have fled south and west to Hama city and neighbouring districts in Homs, Latakia and Tartous.