Syrian Army Retakes 16 Villages, Kills Over 300 Rebels in Hama Province

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The Syrian army has retaken 16 villages and killed up to 350 rebels during the ongoing offensive in Syria's central Hama province, a military source said on Wednesday.

DAMASCUS (Sputnik) — The Syrian military launched a large-scale offensive on Monday aiming to take back territories captured by a rebel alliance that includes al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate, the Al-Nusra Front.

"The army has eliminated 300-350 rebels from groups fighting in the north of Hama. Sixteen settlements have been recaptured since the start of the offensive…The active phase is underway. The terrorists continue to retreat."

© REUTERS / Mohamad BayoushFree Syrian Army fighters of the 101 Infantry Division (the missile and artillery battalion) prepare to fire a mortar from Jabal al-Arbaeen towards al-Fanar checkpoint in Ariha, which is controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Idlib countryside April 16, 2015
Free Syrian Army fighters of the 101 Infantry Division (the missile and artillery battalion) prepare to fire a mortar from Jabal al-Arbaeen towards al-Fanar checkpoint in Ariha, which is controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Idlib countryside April 16, 2015 - Sputnik International
Free Syrian Army fighters of the 101 Infantry Division (the missile and artillery battalion) prepare to fire a mortar from Jabal al-Arbaeen towards al-Fanar checkpoint in Ariha, which is controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Idlib countryside April 16, 2015

The coalition of rebel groups, including the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front, seized Syria's northwestern city of Idlib in late March after five days of intensive clashes between militant groups and government forces.

A week later, the militants said they took over the city of Jisr ash-Shugur in the Idlib Governorate, continuing their southward advance on the way to the Hama province.

In July, Jaish al-Fatah in the Southern Region, an alliance of rebel groups dominated by Jabhat al-Nusra, managed to seize a number of villages in Hama.

Syria has been mired in a civil war since 2011. Over 250,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, according to UN estimates.

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