Syrian troops along with allied militia supported by airstrikes by Russia and cruise missiles fired from offshore warships attacked rebels on Thursday as the Syrian government extended its major offensive trying to recapture territory in the country’s western region.
Rebel advances in that region earlier in 2015 had threatened the region along the coast, which is vital to President Bashar Assad and prompted the intervention by Russia last week.
In another show of strength, the defense ministry of Russia said missiles had been fired from ships located in the Caspian Sea that hit rebel’s weapons factories, command centers, training camps and arms dumps supporting forces of the Islamic State.
Ground forces that are loyal to the Syria government targeted insurgents in western Syria with strong barrages of surface to surface missiles as warplanes from Russia bombed from the air.
Rebels were said to have downed a helicopter in the province of Hama, but there was no confirmation if it was Russian or Syrian.
Syria set the majority military operation into action in a war that started over four years ago with an attempt of overthrowing Assad through protests in the streets and has now taken over 250,000 lives and sent millions of Syrians to other countries as refugees and drawn in regional and world powers’ armed forces.
The Chief of Staff of the Syrian army said that the armed forces has launched a wide ranging offensive to deal with terrorist groups and liberate areas which suffered from crimes and terrorist rule.
The Chief of Staff did not explain what areas had been targeted. He said the new fighting units, which included one known as the Fourth Assault Corps was set up to wage this campaign and that the army now had the initiative to carry it out.
The operation on Wednesday in Hama appeared as if it was just the first of a major coordinated assault between Syrian troops and the militant that were on the ground, and naval and warplanes from Russia.