High-ranking Syria army
officer killed fighting ISIS

Major General Hassan Saado was the chief-of-staff of the 10th Mechanized Division.

Major General Hassan Saado. (Facebook/Syrian Truth)

BEIRUT – Syrian army troops battling ISIS in northern Syria have suffered another setback after a top officer was killed amid the regime’s withdrawal in the face of fierce counterattack by the extremist group.


Pro-regime news outlets on Wednesday evening mourned the death of Major General Hassan Saado, the chief-of-staff of the Syrian army’s 10th Mechanized Division, one of the units taking part in the government’s failed drive to recapture the Tabaqa Airbase in the Raqqa province.


“Saado was martyred during the army’s withdrawal from the Rasafa junction in the Raqqa province toward Ithriya in northeast Hama,” a popular pro-regime Facebook news page based in Syria’s coast said.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also covered Saado’s death, noting he was the Syrian army’s highest ranking casualty since the start of its offensive in the beginning of June.


Syrian army troops based near Ithriya launched their campaign for Tabaqa on June 2 amid great fanfare in pro-regime media as government forces entered the Raqqa province for the first time since 2014, when ISIS slaughtered hundreds of soldiers following the capture of the Tabaqa Airbase.


The offensive notched quick gains as army troops advanced along the desert motorway, reaching a point only 7 kilometers from the base on June 19.


However, ISIS took the regime forces by surprise in the ensuing days with a counterattack that forced the army to retreat westward back into the Hama province, leaving dozens of army soldiers dead.


A leading Lebanese daily supportive of the regime partially blamed Russia for the defeat, reporting Thursday that “weak Russian aerial coverage” forced the army to withdraw to Ithriya.


NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report.

Major General Hassan Saado. (Facebook/Syrian Truth)

Saado was martyred during the army’s withdrawal from the Rasafa junction in the Raqqa province.

  • elliotc

    This does not look so good for the SAA. On this particular front, there isn't the kind of ruined landscape that works for the defense. Their enemy has been bombed by anything that can fly within 300 miles of the base. With complete air superiority, complete control of the battlefield, lots of preparation and vast numerical superiority the SAA completely collapsed within days. The real problem is that the men who fled are apparently men who didn't want to be there. If Assad wants to reconquer his country he'll need lots of Iranian boots on the ground. It's just a question of time.

    June 23, 2016