March 31, 2017 / 8:14 AM / 8 months ago

Syrian government forces take back areas near Hama: monitor

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Russian-backed Syrian army has recaptured 16 villages lost to insurgents last week near the city of Hama, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A still image taken from a video uploaded on social media on March 22, 2017, purports to show Tahrir al-Sham rebel fighters on tanks, said to be in Soran district, near Hama, Syria. Social Media Website via Reuters TV

Syrian government forces have been counter-attacking in the area that is of critical importance to President Bashar al-Assad. The rebel assault has been spearheaded by Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance of jihadist groups including al Qaeda’s former affiliate in the Syrian war, the Nusra Front.

Free Syrian Army rebel groups are also taking part.

Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Alison Williams

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