Alwaght-Syrian troops pushed into the ISIS Terrorist group's stronghold province of Raqqa on Saturday for the first time since 2014, in an advance towards the country's largest dam.
The Tabqa dam on the Euphrates River, 40 kilometers (25 miles) upstream from Raqa city, is also the target of a separate offensive launched by US-backed Kurdish-led forces advancing from the north late last month.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Syrian troops backed by Russian air strikes and entered Raqa province on Saturday morning for the first time since August 2014. Reports indicate heavy Russian air strikes hit ISIS-held territory in eastern areas of Hama province, near the boundary of Raqqa, on Friday to facilitate the Syrian army's advance.
According to Syrian news agency, SANA, more than 40 terrorists were killed when army units thwarted an attack for terrorists of al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham on military positions in the surrounding area of Ma’an town in the northern countryside of Hama.
Meanwhile, army units clashed with ISIS terrorists in the vicinity of al-Tharda mountain and Panorama area to the southern and southwestern parts of Deir Ezzor city, thwarting attack attempts against military positions.
A military source told SANA that many terrorists were killed, others injured and their weapons destroyed during the clashes.
Raqqa city, is ISIS's de facto capital in Syria and, along with Mosul in Iraq. Currently Iraqi and Syrian forces are engaged in different operations to eject ISIS terrorists from the two key cities.