BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:30 A.M.) – Forces of the Syrian Arab Army and allied pro-government paramilitary groups continue to drive back jihadist militants in the northeastern countryside of Hama province, taking control of a third town in 24 hours.

According to military-affiliated sources, units of the Syrian Arab Army and Qalamoun Shield Forces (an elite pro-government paramilitary group) have captured the town of Umm Sahreej from jihadist-led militias.

The advance, made on Tuesday afternoon, comes after Syrian army-led forces also captured the towns of Al-Shakousyah and Rahjan earlier in the day.

Syrian Army operations in northeast Hama are part of a renewed offensive push aimed at completely expelling militant groups from the province.

Many of the rebel fighters opposing the advance by pro-government forces in the region are affiliated to Al-Qaeda, belonging to two armed groups – Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra) and the Turkistan Islamic Party –  both of which are considered terrorist organizations by the United States and Russia.

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