Nearly a dozen Syrian government troops and allied fighters from popular defense groups have lost their lives when massive explosions ripped through weapons and fuel depots at a military airbase in Syria’s central province of Hama.
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that four consecutive blasts occurred as result of a fire at the site on Friday afternoon.
Pictures posted on social media networks showed a huge plume of grey smoke billowing into the sky.
Firefighters have been deployed to the area and trying to extinguish the blaze.
“The explosions struck several depots of weapons and fuel at Hama military airport," Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, later said.
“They were probably caused by a technical problem,” he added.
Abdel Rahman said eleven Syrian soldiers and allied fighters were killed in the explosions, while dozens more sustained injuries or are still unaccounted for.
The incident took place as Syrian army troops and fighters from popular defense groups have made new territorial gains in Hama, retaking areas in the southern part of the province after the evacuation of foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants towards the militant-held northern province of Idlib.
Syrian army forces find tanks, hidden weapons cache north of Damascus
Meanwhile, Syrian government forces have found a number of battle tanks and uncovered a weapons cache belonging to Takfiri terrorists while combing the Eastern Qalamoun region.
SANA news agency reported that Syrian soldiers discovered tanks, rockets, mortar shells, anti-tank missiles, assault rifles, machine guns, rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, locally-made rocket launchers and a remote detonator, as they were carrying out a clean-up operation in the al-Batra and al-Rhaiba mountains.
The munitions are believed to have been left behind by the so-called Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, militants.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.
The Syrian government, backed by Russian warplanes, has managed to liberate swathes of territory it lost following the outbreak of the crisis from the control of the terrorists.
Since February, the Syrian army, backed by Russia, has been engaged in a major push to rid Damascus and the surrounding areas of terrorist groups.
In a significant victory early last month, the Syrian army managed to fully liberate Eastern Ghouta, which had long been controlled by militant groups and served as a launch pad for deadly rocket attacks against residents and civilian infrastructure in the capital.