DAMASCUS (Press Shia Agency) – Syrian military forces managed to retake a number of villages and residential areas on the northern outskirts of Hama after launching a midnight surprise attack against terrorist groups.

In the offensive in the early hours of Monday, the Syrian troops made advances near the western city of Hama and liberated several villages from the terrorist groups.

The army has created a defensive wall in the recently-liberated areas to ward off terrorists.

Over the past few days, the Syrian army, backed by voluntary forces, has managed to recapture villages including al-Talisiya, al-Qahira and Tel al-Usud in the suburbs of Hama.

Hama province is of strategic importance to the Syrian Army, as it separates terrorist groups in rebel-controlled Idlib from Damascus to the south and the government-controlled coast to the west.

In 2013, a major push by terrorists to capture Hama was repelled by government forces after reinforcements were sent to the area.

Syria has been gripped by civil war since March 2011 with various terrorist groups, including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL), currently controlling parts of it.

According to a report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.