(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
AMMAN - The Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias backed by Russian air power stepped up a military campaign against rebels in eastern Hama province in a push towards the rebel stronghold of Idlib province in northwestern Syria, rebels and witnesses said.
They said dozens of aerial strikes believed to be conducted mainly by Russian jets in the last 48 hours hit opposition held villages and towns in the northeastern Hama countryside and the southern part of Idlib province.
The Islamist Hayat Tahrir al Sham and some Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel faction in control of these areas said they were sending reinforcements to seize back a string of villages in the northeastern Hama countryside, near the town of Rihjan, that the army had earlier announced were captured in heavy fighting.
The army said the villages of Um Turayka, Bilil, and Rujum al Ahmar were seized, forcing the rebels to flee to areas close to the administrative boundaries of Idlib province.