Syrian army retake lost areas under fire cover of Russian warplanes

Updated: 2015-10-08 10:49


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DAMASCUS -- The Syrian army recaptured 70 kilometers of rebel-held territory in the central province of Hama, as the Syrian ground troops unleashed offensive Wednesday under the fire cover of the Russian war jets, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV reported.

The 50 kilometers of the retaken territory were under the control of the Jaish al-Fateh group, or the Conquer Army, an alliance of several jihadi groups, mainly the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, said the report. The other 20 kilometers were under the control of other rebel groups.

Earlier in the day, a Syrian military source told Xinhua that the Syrian army started a ground operation against rebel-held towns in the countryside of Hama under Russian and Syria air force cover.

The Hama battle marks the first instance where the Syrian military ground forces have carried out a broad offensive under the direct Russian air support.

The army hopes to fully secure the road between Hama and the central province of Homs under Russian airstrikes against the rebels.

The wide-scale offensive also aims to separate the countryside of Hama form the countryside of the northwestern of Idlib, which is largely under the Jaish al-Fateh control.

The Russian warplanes started on Wednesday its airstrikes against rebel positions in several Syrian areas, marking the first Russian military involvement in the war on terrorist groups in Syria.

Damascus has confirmed that the Russian air raids came upon the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to SANA.

Moscow has recently amplified its assistance to the Syrian military forces, and Russian officials promised more of such aid, including specialists, to Damascus.

Russia says the increase in military supplies aims to combat terrorism in accordance with international law.