The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), backed by the paramilitary group ‘Desert Hawks’ and assisted by the National Defence Forces (NDF) and members of the Liwa Al-Quds brigade, made major gains in Eastern Hama in the battle against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIS/ISIL), Thursday.

The pro-government forces reportedly recaptured the Um Tweineh, al-Hardaneh and al-Qatshiyah villages from IS during the offensive.

The SAA and its allies launched a fresh offensive against IS in Eastern Hama earlier in July. Eastern Hama is considered to be the last IS stronghold in central Syria.

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