Northern Homs offensive (April–May 2018)

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Northern Homs offensive (April–May 2018)
Part of the Syrian Civil War
15–20 April 2018
(5 days)
Rebel surrender and withdrawal:
29 April – 16 May 2018
(2 weeks and 3 days)
Northern Homs Governorate and southern Hama Governorate, western Syria

Decisive Syrian Army and allies victory

  • Syrian Army and allies regain full control of the northern Homs pocket, including Rastan, Talbiseh, and Houla[3]

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

Syrian opposition Central Region Command[1] Surrendered

Tahrir al-Sham[2] Surrendered
Commanders and leaders
Maj. Gen. Muhamamd Khaddour[4]

Col. Ibrahim Bakkar[1]
(head of Central Region Command)
Col. Omar Melhem Surrendered[5]
(Tawhid Army commander)
Lt. Col. Talal al-Mansour[6]
(4th Legion commander)

Ahmed Abu Zeid[7]
(Homs Army commander)
Units involved

Syrian Armed Forces

Central Region Command[1]

Casualties and losses
2,500-15,000 (Rough estimate) 3,556-10,617
21+ civilians killed[12][13]

The Northern Homs offensive was launched by the Syrian Armed Forces against the rebel pocket in the northern Homs Governorate and the southern Hama Governorate on 15 April 2018. It came after the defeat of the rebel forces in the final government offensive against rebels in eastern Ghouta. Following negotiations with Syrian and Russian military officials, rebels surrendered the northern Homs pocket on 2 May,[14] and those who refused to stay were fully evacuated on 16 May. Subsequently, the Syrian government regained full control of the area.[3]



On 15 April, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched an offensive in the northern Homs rebel pocket following the failure of rebel groups to abide by the government's terms in previous negotiations. The SAA targeted rebel positions in the southwestern part of Salamiyah District.[15] On the following day, the SAA advanced from the recently captured village of Salim to the nearby Hamrat.[16][17][18]

On 17 April, rebel forces in and around the city of Rastan called for an urgent meeting with Russian military negotiators to organize a new settlement agreement. Sources reported that the rebel delegation would seek an agreement on reconciliation similar to what Jaysh al-Islam fighters in Douma received, so that only Russian and Syrian military police will enter the dedicated settlements instead of regular Syrian military forces.[19] On the evening of the same day, rebels captured the village of Qubbat al-Kurdi. Rebel forces also had reportedly cut off drinking water supplies to the Salamiyah region.[12]

On 18 April, a four-day ceasefire was announced after the rebel delegation met with Russian military police at the Dar al-Kabira crossing in northern Homs.[20] However, the rebel delegation denied that an agreement was reached.[21]

Rebel surrender and evacuation[edit]

In the morning of 29 April, more than 70 airstrikes and 500 artillery shells hit Rastan, Talbiseh, and other rebel-held towns in the northern Homs pocket. At least 7 civilians were killed and 46 wounded by the bombings. In the afternoon, rebel representatives resumed negotiations with a Russian delegation, and the bombings were paused. The negotiations resulted in another temporary ceasefire agreement, and the SAA issued an ultimatum to the rebels, giving them between 48 and 72 hours to surrender and accept evacuation with the threat of launching a military offensive if they refused.[13]

On 2 May, the rebel delegation reached an agreement to hand over their heavy weapons, withdraw to either the greater Idlib area or the Turkish-occupied northern Aleppo Governorate, and allow the government to take over the pocket.[14] However, the 4th Legion, based in Taldou, rejected the agreement.[22] Demonstrations were held in Rastan both supporting and opposing the government and the rebels.[23]

On 7 May, the evacuation of an estimated 2,900 rebel fighters and civilians by buses, under the supervision of Russian military police,[24] began at a departure point in Rastan. The majority of civilians in the area chose to stay, and were given six months to reconcile with the government.[25] On 9 May, three convoys of buses carrying around 8,000 people evacuated from northern Homs and southern Damascus were stopped at a crossing near the city of al-Bab. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent coordinated the arrival of the convoys with Turkish forces, but the buses were stuck due to lack of coordination between rebels and Turkish officials, poor logistics, and Turkish refusal to allow entry.[26]


  1. ^ a b c "Central region commander survives assassination attempt north of Homs". Enab Baladi. 20 April 2018.
  2. ^ ""Liberation Sham" Tdk sites of the regime north of Homs .. And suffered losses (Photos)". El-Dorar al-Shamia. 17 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Syrian rebels pull out of their last besieged area". Reuters. 16 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Breaking: Syrian Army scores major advance against Rastan militants, captures 5 towns in southeast Hama". 16 April 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  5. ^ Bassem Mroue (19 July 2018). "Under Assad's grip, uneasy co-existence with Syria ex-rebels". Associated Press.
  6. ^ a b "That's the Results of attack by rebels on Syrian regime south of Hama, Commander of 4th Corps illustrates". Syria Call. 18 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b Mais Noor Aldeen (21 April 2018). "Free Syrian Army repulses Syrian government forces' attempt to advance in southeast of Hama". SMART News Agency.
  8. ^ "Syrian Army captures six towns in southeast Hama - map". 17 April 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  9. ^ Talal Kharrat (21 April 2018). "Syrian Opposition Foil A Regime Offensive Northern Homs". Qasioun News Agency.
  10. ^ "Shelling and clashes south of Hama and northern Homs". Enab Baladi. 16 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Military factions launch a joint operation south of Hama and control checkpoints after sudden attacks". El-Dorar al-Shamia. 18 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Regime halts attack in Homs as rebels threaten to cut off water supply". Zaman al-Wasl. 18 April 2018.
  13. ^ a b Alaa Nassar; Alice Al Maleh (30 April 2018). "Rebel-held north Homs sees heaviest bombardment in weeks ahead of ceasefire negotiations". Syria Direct.
  14. ^ a b "Rebels agree withdrawal deal for enclave near Syria's Homs". 3 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Breaking: Syrian Army kicks off new operation in east Hama". 15 April 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Syrian Army scores new advance in southern Hama after launching big offensive near Salamiyah". 16 April 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Map update: Syrian Army's Rastan offensive sees militants driven back near Homs-Hama border". 16 April 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  18. ^ "VIDEO: Syrian Army hurls a torrent of tank, artillery fire at Rastan rebels to pave way for recent advance near Homs-Hama border". 16 April 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Breaking: Syria's Rastan rebels call for emergency meeting with Russian negotiators to organize reconciliation deal - details". 17 April 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  20. ^ "4-Days Seasefire agreement between Homs & Hama Negotiating Commission with Russians". Syria Call. 18 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Homs & Mama Negotiating Commission denies reaching an agreement with Russians". Syria Call. 20 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Rebels in northern Homs refuse Russian 'surrender' deal". Zaman al-Wasl. 2 May 2018.
  23. ^ Joško Barić. "Syrian War Daily – 2nd of May 2018".
  24. ^ "Syria war: Rebels leave last major besieged enclave". BBC. 7 May 2018.
  25. ^ "Rebel forces and civilians begin evacuating besieged Homs countryside: 'We don't want another Ghouta'". Syria Direct. 7 May 2018.
  26. ^ Alaa Nassar; Avery Edelman (9 May 2018). "Thousands of displaced people from Homs and Damascus 'stuck' at crossing to rebel-held northern Aleppo". Syria Direct.