World Bulletin / News Desk
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other armed opposition groups have recently advanced on the city of Hama and now stand only 3 kilometers from the city center, sources in the field told Anadolu Agency.
The latest advances come within the context of an opposition campaign launched earlier this week from the Al-Qaboun and Jobar districts of Damascus with the aim of preventing regime forces from pushing into Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the capital.
Recent days have seen the FSA and other opposition factions recapture several key positions in Hama.
Mohamed Rashid, a spokesman for the FSA-affiliated Jaysh al-Nasr (“Army of Victory”), told Anadolu Agency Thursday night that opposition forces had captured a number of regime troops -- he did not say how many -- and Iranian-backed foreign fighters.
Opposition forces, he said, had also destroyed two regime tanks on the Hama-Mharda highway and another four in the Souran area, while also capturing arms and ammunition stores.
Rashid went on to assert that opposition forces -- led by the Jaysh al-Nasr -- had also managed to establish control over much of Hama’s northern countryside, including the towns of Maardis, Al-Majdal and Shizar.
This means that opposition forces currently stand roughly 3 kilometers from Hama’s city center and 4 kilometers from Hama’s military airport.
Earlier Thursday, opposition fighters claimed to have struck the military airport with rockets, destroying two Syrian warplanes.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter of a million Syrians have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.