BEIRUTSyrian rebels recaptured a village and surrounding areas in the west of the country on Friday, consolidating significant advances made the day before at the expense of pro-government forces, a monitoring group said.
Fighters from the Ahrar al-Sham Islamist group and other rebel forces took over the village of Atshan in their latest gains in Hama province, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Syrian government forces and allied militia, backed by Russian air strikes and ground support by Iranian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, have been waging a fierce campaign that the United States says has mostly targeted foreign-backed or moderate insurgents.
Moscow, which intervened more than a month ago, has said its campaign targets Islamic State.
Atshan is close to the town of Morek, which rebels took in an assault led by Islamist insurgents of the Jund al-Aqsa group on Thursday.
Syrian government forces had captured Atshan in October, the Observatory said. Morek lies on the main north-south highway that links Syria’s main cities.
Morek’s capture was a blow to the Russian-backed campaign, which after more than a month of heavy air strikes mostly concentrated in the west and northwest of the country. It has had limited success in retaking territory gained by rebels earlier this year.
(Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
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