The Syrian army, backed by Russian air power, recaptured the town of Qalaat al-Madiq (Hama province) and two nearby villages, Tal Hawash and Al-Karkat, from jihadist rebels on Thursday, May 9, after intensive shelling of the town. Rebels reportedly withdrew after being encircled by Syrian army forces.
Similar fighting is possible in Hama province over the coming days.
On May 7, the Syrian army, backed by Russian air power, launched an operation against the southern part of the province of Idlib, the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria. The area is mostly controlled by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Cham terrorist organization. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 150,00 people were displaced between April 29 and May 5 in the northwest part of the country as a result of the fighting.
To date, the Syrian conflict involves many parties, including the Syrian government, the Russian government, the Iranian government, the Turkish government, a US-led coalition, and numerous armed groups on the ground (including the Islamic State) with competing goals.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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