Fri Feb 5, 2016 6:22PM
Government forces stand on a tank near the towns of Nabbul and Zahra in Syria's northern province of Aleppo on February 2, 2016. (AFP photo)
Government forces stand on a tank near the towns of Nabbul and Zahra in Syria's northern province of Aleppo on February 2, 2016. (AFP photo)

Syrian forces push ahead with a major offensive north of the country, recapturing more towns in areas close to the Turkish border.

Syria’s official SANA agency said on Friday that army units backed by popular volunteer fighters managed to seize control over the towns of Rityan and Mair in the northern countryside of Aleppo Province.

The recapture came days after pro-government forces broke a long-running siege on two Shia-dominated towns of Nubbul and Zahra, in a major blow to al-Qaeda-linked militants operating along the Turkish border.

The army, backed by the Russian air force has dealt a series of heavy blows to terrorists across Syria over the past couple of months.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says some 15,000 civilians, who have been fleeing the battle in Aleppo, have arrived at the Turkish border.

Elsewhere to the south of Syria, the military managed to take full control of Atman town in the countryside of the southern city of Dara’a, a military source told SANA.

Advances were also reported in other areas, with SANA saying that Syrian forces killed scores of terrorists from the so-called Jaish al-Fateh group in the province of Hama. The Syrian Air Force also launched airstrikes against militants in the countryside of Hama and neighboring Idlib Province, inflicting huge losses on their properties and forces.

For nearly five years, Syria has been grappling with turmoil. Estimates show that more than 260,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since March 2011.