Pro-Assad forces report new gains in Hama as Russia steps up strikes on Syrian rebels

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Pro-Assad army prepares for combatting rebels forces in Latakia. File photo

ARA News

URFA – Backed by Russian airstrikes, pro-regime forces made new gains on Monday in the central Syrian province of Hama, local activists reported.

“As Russia intensified its airstrikes on the strongholds of the opposition fighters, pro-Assad forces seized control of major parts of Kafr Nabuda town in Hama province,” media activist Muhammad Fourqan told ARA News. 

“Monday’s strikes were the fiercest since the start of the Russian air campaign in Syria,” the source reported. 

Dozens of rebel fighters were killed in Kafr Nabuda operations on Monday. 

In the meantime, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that its fighter jets struck 53 targets in Syria.

“The Russian Air Force carried out raids in the provinces of Hama, Homs, Latakia and Idlib, destroying ‘terrorist’ command posts, defensive positions, training camps and ammunition depots,” the statement read.

Also on Monday, the Syrian regime army announced in a statement that its forces have gained new areas in the northern countryside of Hama, including the villages of Atshan, Qubeibat, Maarakaba, Oum Harten, Sekik, Tal Sekik, Tal al-Sakher, and al-Bahsa. 

Speaking to ARA News from Idlib, rebel commander Abu Mohammed Rihawi said: “We have called the battle of southern Idlib ‘introduction to Putin’, as the Russian President claimed he has never heard of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).” 

“We promise our people there will be new gains against Assad militias, and Putin will never forget the FSA again,” Rihawi said. 

Russia launched its first round of airstrikes in Syria on September 30, hitting eight sites that it claimed were Islamic State (ISIS) targets. However, Western critics and Syrian opposition factions accused Russia of bombing anti-Assad rebels instead. 

Reporting by: Muhammad Ali 

Source: ARA News

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