Syrian troops backed by Russia retake key town from Islamist rebels

Johannesburg: Syrian government troops have retaken a strategic town from Islamist rebels with the assistance of Russian airstrikes in the central province of Hama, a group that monitors Syrian conflict said.

According to News24, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that regime troops overran the village of Ashtan in north-eastern Hama.

Atshan lies on a road linking Syria’s east and west.

The main aim of the regime is to advance into nearby areas, including Tal Skak village, said Rami Abdel-Rahaman, who heads the observatory.

He also said that the area is of strategic importance to government forces because it brings them closer to the town of Khan Sheikoun which is a stronghold of al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front.