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The New Arab

Syrian rebels poised to take Syria's fourth city

Hama is the latest target of rebel forces in Syria [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 March, 2017

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Syrian rebels are within striking distance of Hama following a surprise offensive by the opposition, coinciding with other assaults in Daraa and Damascus.

Syria's fourth city looks likely to fall to rebels following a surprise opposition offensive on Hama on Tuesday evening.

Rebels from the Hayaat Tahrir al-Sham movement captured towns and villages during the assault in Hama province, putting them less than five kilometres from the provincial capital.

Fighters managed to take control of the village of Bal Hussein in the north Hama countryside on Wednesday, Free Syrian Army-linked media reported.

Regime aircraft based in Hama airbase flew out to Russian-run Latakia airbase as it looked like the city would fall, opposition media said.

Pro-Damascus units, including elite Tiger Forces, are also reportedly heading to the frontlines to aid beleaguered regime troops.

Sources told The New Arab that rebels units in other parts of Syria are preparing their own offensives to relieve the pressure on opposition forces in Hama city.

The Tahrir al-Sham assault - an opposition faction dominated by former al-Qaeda affiliate Fatah al-Sham - is backed by the Free Syrian Army and began on Tuesday evening with suicide vehicle attacks on regime forces.

Rebel forces advanced and managed to capture four villages and one town during the initial phase of the attack.

It follows another offensive by Tahrir al-Sham and FSA fighters in the Syrian capital, where rebels reached the outskirts of the Damascus' Old City.

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