Rebels roll back Syria army gains: monitor
The Islamist rebels overran Atshan and surrounding areas in the morning and, despite Russian air support, the army was unable to push them back, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Russian air support had been key to the army’s gains in the offensive it launched in Hama province on October 7.
It captured Atshan on October 10, but withdrew from it and nearby towns, including Umm al-Haratayn, on Friday.
“Regime forces lost control of the last remaining towns it had seized since the beginning of its ground operations in the northern parts of Hama province,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Sixteen government loyalists and seven rebels were killed in the fighting.
The setback comes a day after the army lost the towns of Morek and Tal Skeik to jihadists and other rebels.
The loss of Morek cost the army the last town under its control along the main highway north from Hama to second city Aleppo.
Morek has changed hands several times in Syria’s four-year civil war. Government troops last retook it in October 2014.
The army still controls swathes of territory south of the town.
Elsewhere, 27 civilians and 15 Islamic State group fighters were killed in Russian air strikes on Tuesday on the city of Raqa, the jihadists’ de facto capital in Syria, the Observatory said, updating an earlier toll.