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The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other opposition groups have reportedly made gains against regime forces as part of a new offensive near Hama city in west-central Syria.
Opposition fighters advanced to positions six kilometers (four miles) away from the center of Hama city, according to Anadolu Agency reporters in the area.
“We opened this [battle] front in an attempt to reduce the pressure on opposition [forces] in Damascus,” the FSA-linked Jaysh al-Nasr group said in a statement.
According to the reporters, group fighters seized control of Soran town and the villages of Khattab, Shir and Subin as well as the Safuh military barricade in Hama.
They said a large number of regime forces and members of allied foreign terrorist groups were captured by opposition fighters during the offensive.
Two regime warplanes were reportedly destroyed when opposition fighters shelled the Hama military airbase.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter-million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the United Nations.
The Syrian Center for Policy Research, however, put the death toll from the six-year conflict at more than 470,000 people.
2017.03.22 / 21:16