المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

The strategic bridges in Hama countryside…between the partnership of the regime forces and the factions to control some of them and destroy some others…the Syrian citizen is the biggest loser between them throughout years

The regime forces and militiamen loyal to them, Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham and other factions, all share the control of the bridges which have a strategic importance in the area of Sahl Al-Ghab within the north-western countryside of Hama province, where there are many bridges in Sahl Al-Ghab linking the controlled areas of the regime forces to the controlled areas of the opposition factions, this area -through which al-Assi River passes before it enters the areas of the western countryside of Idlib province- and after 8 years of the revolution and the Syrian war, still has some of these bridges in which the control and influence are distributed between the both parties, and since the beginning of the armed conflict, the factions persevered on controlling the area of Sahl Al-Ghab within the western countryside of Hama province, where many towns and villages which have significant military importance are located, and this was coincided with the opposition factions’ attempts to hold on to the bridges in the area because of their significant military value too, which enhances the factions’ presence in the area and facilitates their advancement at the expense of the Syrian regime forces.

**Twinah Bridge: It is one of the most important bridges in Sahle Al-Ghab area in the western countryside of Hama province, and it links between Qalaat al-Madiq and Twinah which are under the control of the factions, and some of the villages which are under the control of the regime forces (the Free Kafriti and Al-Khandaq), and this bridge has significant importance for the citizens and the farmers in particular, among them those who have tens of dunams of agricultural lands west of al-Assi River, and on the 5th of September 2018, Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement destroyed Twinah Bridge in order not to be used by the regime forces in their advancement at that time towards Qalaat al-Madiq town.

**Al-Sharia Bridge: this bridge is located about 2 km to the north of Twinah Bridge, and this bridge is the main artery to the villages of Al- Ramla, Al-Karim, Al-Ashrafiyah, Qabr Faddah and several other villages belong to the regime forces, and it has agricultural importance for the residents, also on the 31st of September 2018, Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement detonated the bridge completely which put it out of service, it is noteworthy that the regime forces used to be stationed on the bridge in previous time, before they withdrew on the 2nd of May 2015.

**Al-Huwayz Bridge: this bridge is located to the north of Sharia Bridge, and connects Al-Huawyz village which is under the control of the factions to Al-Rasif village which is under the control of the regime forces, and this bridge partly got out of service after being targeted by the regime forces on the 7th of March 2019, for fear of the factions’ infiltration through it, thus, tens of farmers whose farmlands are located in the west of al-Assi River, are prohibited to reach their lands, cultivate and look after them, and the area of ​​the agricultural land affected by detonating Al-Huwayz Bridge is estimated at about 5000 dunams.

**Jesr Bayt al-Ras (Bayt al-Ras Bridge): it is located to the north of Al-Huwayz Bridge and connects the villages of Sahl Al-Ghab which are under the control of the factions such as the villages of Bayt al-Ras, Al-Hawash and Hawija, to the villages that are controlled by the regime forces like Al-Jayid and Taman’aat Al-Ghab, also Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement detonated it on the 31st of September 2018, within the plan the movement put to detonate the bridges at that time to prevent the advancement of the regime forces through them.

**Al-Qarqur Bridge: it is the only bridge that is still in service and valid to be used for passing through it, and it is under the control of the factions, and for the factions, it has significant importance because of being the link between both Hama and Idlib countryside and between Jabal Al-Akrad in the northern countryside of Latakia.

The regime forces also still control several bridges in Sahl Al-Ghab area in the western countryside of Hama province, including “Al-Asharnah Bridge” which is the link between Al-Suqaylabiyah and Misyaf cities and Salhab, in addition to the regime forces’ control over “Hawrat Al-Ammoury Bridge” which is one of the most important bridges in Sahl Al-Ghab area in the countryside of Hama province, as it links between Sahl Al-Ghab and the Syrian coastline, and it is the link between Al-Suqaylabiyah city and the mountains of Latakia province, the regime forces are also in control of Al-Mahd Bridge” which is located in the western part of Al-Suqaylabiyah city, and over this bridge, there are several checkpoints of the regime forces, including Al-Nahl checkpoint which is well-known in Hama countryside as it is the launching point of the ground shelling which affects several villages and towns in both northern and western countryside of Hama, and the regime forces also impose their control over several other bridges, such as “Mardash Bridge” which separates between the western and eastern sides of Sahl Al-Ghab, “Shat-ha Bridge” which is located between Al-Rasif village and Shat-ha which are both controlled by the regime forces, “Al-Tutah Bridge”, Al-Bahsah Bridge” and other bridges, and the regime forces, from the beginning of the conflict, are trying to cement their hold on over all the bridges in the area of Sahl Al-Ghab, in order to fortify their positions and the villages under their control west of al-Assi River.

At the same time, the opposition factions and the regime forces share the control of several bridges, like “Al-Ziyarah Bridge” which is located near Al-Tanmiyah Al-Riffiyah (the rural development) which used to be a camp of the regime forces before the opposition factions took the control of it in mid of 2015, and the eastern side of the bridge comes under the control of the regime forces while its western side is controlled by the factions, in addition to “Al-Hakurah Bridge” which also used to be controlled by the regime forces before it was destroyed completely and got out of service in April 2016, where it was targeted by Turkistan Islamic Party by a booby-trapped vehicle with a suicide bomber in it which caused the destruction of the bridge and put it out of service from that time and until now, also “Khirbat al-Naqus Bridge” is added to the list, where it was destroyed in 2016, after the factions had taken the control of Khirbat al-Naqus village, where the bridge used to connect the village to the villages of the mountains of Latakia province, and in the same time, it separated the controlled areas of the armed opposition and the regime forces’ controlled areas, while the biggest loser in the battle of imposing the influence over the bridges, is the Syrian citizen who fell between the hammer of the regime forces and the anvil of the factions.

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