Analysis: The importance of Tal Sakher hill in Hama for the Syrian Army

Out of the countless amount of hilltops mentioned as being captured by the Syrian Army amid ongoing battles in Syria’s Hama province, one had a value for militant groups out of all proportion to its actual height – that hilltop was Tal Sakher.

For at least four years, Tal Sakher served as what can be described as a permanent anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) position for insurgent vehicle hunter teams who targeted Syrian Army traffic mostly on the road between the cities of Suqaylabia and Mharda.

Especially when the militants had information on the movement of a Syrian military commander or ammunition convoy between these two cities, it could become a very dangerous road to travel.

The presence of jihadist ATGM teams and other fire support units atop Tal Sakher also made regular movements of Syrian Army and National Defense Forces units inside Kurnaz problematic at times – the town was technically under direct militant fire-control for years.

Although Tal Sakher was captured by the Syrian Army just 24 hours ago, the reality is that the ATGM threat had been neutralized months earlier, when a Syrian Army special forces operation raided the hilltop, forced jihadists to temporarily retreat and promptly razed the main dug-outs used for positioning missile systems.

Even when the Syrian Army raiding team retreated and terrorists re-assumed control of the hill a few hours later, Tal Sakher would never be the kind of threat it had been for all those years earlier. The Syrian Army had established positions within mortar and heavy machine gun range of the hill, had constant eyes on it with drones and any attempt by militants to dig new firing sites for their ATGM teams was a suicidal task.