Syrian army advances in Hama, besieges al-Qaida-linked militants

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-15 05:01:25|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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DAMASCUS, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army continued its operation against the rebels in northern countryside of Hama and southern countryside of Idlib province on Tuesday, a military source told Xinhua.

The army managed to capture areas in the al-Ghab Plains in the northwestern countryside of Hama and besieged rebels in several towns, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The army has so far captured 13 towns since the beginning of the operation in northern Hama countryside two weeks ago.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday that the government airstrikes targeted rebel positions in the countryside of Hama, Idlib and Latakia provinces in northwestern Syria.

The Britain-based watchdog group said the warplanes carried out seven airstrikes against rebel positions in al-Ghab Plains.

Meanwhile, state news agency SANA said the Syrian army continued to target Nusra Front militants in the southern countryside of Idlib and the international road linking Damascus, the capital, with Aleppo in the north and passing through Idlib province.

The Syrian army has started an operation against the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), also known as al-Qaida in Syria, in the northern countryside of Hama province in central Syria and the nearby Idlib province late last month.

The Syrian government said the attacks are a response to the rebels' attacks and infiltration attempts into Syrian military sites in that region.

Idlib is the last major rebel stronghold controlled by the HTS.

Areas in the countryside of Hama, Idlib and the western countryside of Aleppo are included in the de-escalation zones deal which was reached between Russia and Turkey in September 2018.

The deal failed to materialize as the HTS expanded in Idlib and started attacking Syrian military positions instead of withdrawing from the designated zone.