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Syrian forces take control of strategic village as army advances in Idlib

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Syrian army soldiers are seen in the southeastern countryside of the northwestern province of Idlib on December 23, 2019. (Photo by SANA)

Syrian government troops and allied fighters from popular defense groups continue to score more territorial gains in the country’s northern province of Idlib, the last major stronghold of foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that Syrian soldiers and their allies pressed ahead with their counter-terrorism operations in the southeastern countryside of Idlib on Monday, and managed to liberate the strategic village of al-Tah, which lies in the Maarrat al-Nu'man district of the province and served as a key bastion of militants from the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

Al-Tah is also situated on the road linking the central province of Hama with Aleppo province in northern Syria.

Syrian army soldiers advance in the southeastern countryside of the northwestern province of Idlib on December 23, 2019. (Photo by SANA)

SANA added that the capture came after "intense battles" with the extremists, noting that army soldiers inflicted heavy losses upon them and destroyed their vehicles and military hardware.

The development came only a day after the Syrian army had advanced in battles against militants in the same Syrian province, retaking a number of towns and villages, including al-Heraki, Tahtaya, al-Burj, Tal al-Homsi and Farwan, east of Maarrat al-Nu'man, and purged them of the last remnants of Takfiri terrorist groups.

Syrian bomb disposal units have started combing the liberated areas for hidden ordinance and improvised explosive devices, which Takfiri militants have planted there. 

Syrian forces capture drone rigged with explosives

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces have captured and dismantled an unmanned aerial vehicle rigged with explosives in the country’s west-central province of Hama.

A drone used during an attack on Russia's Hmeimim air base in Syria is being displayed during a briefing at the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow on January 11, 2018. (Photo by AP)

SANA reported that Syrian army units intercepted and shot down the drone as it was flying in the skies over Salamiyah area in the eastern countryside of the province on Sunday afternoon.

Car bomb leaves 8 dead in Turkish-controlled northern Syrian village

Separately, at least eight civilians, including a woman and a child, have lost their lives and several others sustained injuries when a car rigged with explosives went off in an area of Syria's northern province of Raqqah, controlled by Turkish military forces and their allied militants ever since they launched a ground offensive against militants from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

SANA reported that the attack took place on Monday afternoon in the village of Suluk, which is located in the Tal Abyad district of the province.

This picture shows the aftermath of a car bomb attack in the Turkish-controlled northern Syrian village of Suluk on December 23, 2019. (Photo by SANA)

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 21 people, including women and children, were injured in the attack.

Local sources said the force of the explosion damaged a number of shops and cars parked in the area.

There was no immediate claim for the act of terror.

On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push YPG militants away from border areas.

Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants had to withdraw from the Turkish-controlled "safe zone" in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow would run joint patrols around the area.

The announcement was made hours before a US-brokered five-day truce between Turkish and Kurdish-led forces was due to expire.

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