DAMASCUS, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army on Wednesday foiled a massive rebel attack in the countryside of the central province of Hama amid escalating military showdown, according to the state news agency SANA.
The rebel groups in the northern countryside of Hama unleashed a massive attack with a large number of armed men and booby-trapped vehicles around mid-night on government-held areas.
The attack led to the retreat of the Syrian forces from advanced frontlines, said SANA.
The army later launched a counter-offensive and retrieved the lost areas and restored the situation to what it was ahead of the attack.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday that the Syrian army advanced in the northern countryside of Hama and reached the outskirts of Kafr Zita, one of the biggest rebel-held areas in northern Hama.
The UK-based watchdog group said the Syrian warplanes carried out 22 air raids on Wednesday morning on rebel positions in the northern countryside of Hama and the nearby southern countryside of Idlib Province.
The army also carried out ground shelling on rebel areas in the aforementioned areas, according to the Observatory.
On Monday, the Syrian army declared in a statement the resumption of military operations in Idlib, citing the cease-fire violation by the rebels.
The Syrian army said the "terrorist groups" refused to abide by the cease-fire deal that went into force on August 1 in the de-escalation zone in Idlib and launched several attacks on civilians in nearby areas.
The de-escalation zones' deal was established last September under the supervision of Turkey and Russia.
It includes Idlib, as well as countryside areas of the nearby provinces of Hama and Latakia and areas in Aleppo province in northwestern Syria.
Idlib, in particular, is the last major rebel stronghold in the country.
Last April, the military showdown returned on the surface and battles were reported in the northern countryside of Hama near Idlib.
The recent cease-fire was reached in the 13th round of Syrian talks in the Nur-Sultan, capital of Kazakhstan, previously known as Astana.
The guarantors of the talks, as well as government and opposition delegations, agreed on a cease-fire in the de-escalation zone and the retreat of the rebels 20 km in depth of Idlib.
The al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, the striking force in Idlib, refused the cease-fire and the planned retreat.