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."
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.