Syria’s military forces recaptured 32 villages near the northwestern city of Aleppo from terrorist groups, the Arab country’s army announced.
According to the army’s statement released by SANA, the villages are located in an area of 250 square kilometers northeast of Aleppo.
"The General Staff of the Syrian Armed Forces said that the Armed Forces detachments… were able to liberate during a large-scale military operation against Daesh more than 32 villages and farms on a total area of over 250 square kilometers to the northeast of Aleppo," the statement said.
"The operation… is expanding the safe zone around Aleppo and allows (the troops) to increase the scale of the military operation against Daesh (ISIL), expanding the Syrian armed forces' zone of influence and establishing control of the roads between the north and the east of Aleppo," the Syrian General Staff added.
On December 15, Syria announced the liberation of Aleppo from the foreign-backed terrorists, with President Bashar al-Assad praising the victory as “history in the making and worthy of more than the word congratulations.”
The Syrian security forces had encircled Aleppo in July 2016 after closing off the last terrorist-controlled route into the city.
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.
Syrian army soldiers and fighters from allied popular defense groups have made more gains against members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the country’s northwestern province of Aleppo, pushing terrorists out of four villages.
The media bureau of operations command for the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement announced in a statement on Sunday that Syrian soldiers and their allies had captured the villages of Sora, Moran, Surja al-Saghira and Surja al-Kabira, located about 16 kilometers southwest of al-Bab town, where Turkish-backed Takfiri militants are active.
On August 24, 2016, the Turkish air force and special ground forces kicked off Operation Euphrates Shield inside Syria in a purported bid to support the Free Syrian Army militants and rid the border area of Daesh terrorists and fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD).
The offensive was launched in coordination with the US-led military coalition, which has purportedly been fighting Daesh extremists since 2014.
The incursion was the first major Turkish military intervention in Syria, which drew strong condemnation from the Syrian government for violating the Arab country's sovereignty.
Syrian forces engaged in mop-up operation in Aleppo’s recently retaken areas have discovered Saudi-produced chemical weapons agents left behind by foreign-backed terrorists in the city.
Syria’s official SANA news agency reported on Wednesday that the chemical materials were found by an army unit in a depot in the Old City of Aleppo.
Sulfur, chlorine and raw materials used for plastic granules were among the Saudi substances discovered, the report added.
It further noted that militants used the materials for manufacturing explosives that were later employed for targeting Aleppo’s residential areas.
It was not the first time that the Syrian troops uncovered toxic chemicals stored by Takfiri terrorists in Aleppo.
In December, Syrian military forces found a chemical warehouse inside Sana’a Mehaidali school in Aleppo’s Masaken Hanano neighborhood.
Terrorist groups such as Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, have on several occasions used toxic materials to target civilians in the Aleppo areas.
The Syrian government has accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey of providing the militants with the banned weapons.
Pastor Ibrahim Nasir, the spiritual leader of the Arabic Evangelical Church in Aleppo, said the Zionist regime of Israel’s support for terrorist groups in the Middle East is aimed at destroying true Islam and Christianity.
What we are witnessing in parts of the region today can be considered an “Islam of Zionist character” being promoted by the Israeli regime with the help of Takfiri terrorist groups, Rev. Ibrahim Nasir told the Tasnim News Agency.
He warned that Tel Aviv is using the terrorists as a tool to make inroads into divine principles of Islam to undermine the religion and ultimately contribute to its implosion.
Nasir added that the Zionists have targeted Christianity in the west as well.
The leader of the Arabic Evangelical Church in Aleppo also said that while churches in the west back the Syrian nation and legitimate government, western governments continue to support terrorism in the Arab country.
Hailing the recent liberation of the northwestern city of Aleppo from the clutches of terrorists, he said, “The (ousted) terrorists were the enemies of God, humanity and our homeland”.
In a statement on December 22, Syria’s army announced it has regained full control over Aleppo, clearing the city from foreign-backed terrorist groups after a four-year battle.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Islamic Republic welcomes Syria’s nationwide ceasefire, but warned against the strengthening of terrorists during the truce time in the Arab country.
“One must watch out that no opportunity will be created during the time of ceasefire for the terrorists’ reinforcement,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and Major General Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s National Security Bureau, in Tehran on Saturday.
The ceasefire, which took effect across Syria at midnight on Friday, excludes the most brutal of terror outfits operating in the Arab country, namely Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.
The truce was mediated by Russia and Turkey, which respectively represented the Syrian government and the anti-Damascus militants.
Rouhani further hailed the great achievements made by the Syrian government, army and people in the fight against terrorists, particularly in the recently-liberated strategic city of Aleppo.
“The victory in Aleppo conveys this message to the terrorists that they will never be successful in the wrong path they have chosen [which is replete] with crime and bloodshed,” the Iranian president said.
He added that the liberation of Aleppo has prepared suitable grounds for field activities against terrorists and political measures meant to restore stability and security to Syria.
He expressed hope that future steps to solve the Syrian crisis and initiate peace talks would lead to the establishment of security for the Syrian people and the maintenance of the country’s territorial integrity.
Syrian government forces have discovered hundreds of boxes loaded with US-made ammunition in the eastern quarters of Aleppo as they comb various neighborhoods of the recently liberated city for ordnance and military equipment left behind by foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants.
The boxes were found in several militants’ arms depots in Aleppo, located some 355 kilometers north of the capital, Damascus, and contained weapons worth of millions of US dollars, Russian daily newspaper Aaszewstaa reported.
The report added that “the items had been delivered to militants under the guise of humanitarian aid.”
The discovery came on the same day that the Syrian army located a large workshop in Aleppo, which Jaish al-Fatah (The Army of Conquest) Takfiri militants used to manufacture chemical weapons from US-made components.
A military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said several packages had UN 3,082 codes, which meant they contained environmentally hazardous substances.
Earlier this week, makeshift factories were uncovered in eastern Aleppo, which terrorists used to build bombs laced with poisonous chemicals.
Syrian military officials said the terrorists used chemical warfare against Syrian army forces, adding that one such attack occurred in the southwestern flank of Aleppo, close to al-Assad Military Academy -- also known as the Academy of Military Engineering.
Terrorist groups such as Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, have on several occasions used toxic materials such as chlorine gas to target civilians and government forces in Syria.
The Syrian government accuses Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey of providing the militants with the banned weapons.
The Syrian government turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the United States back in 2013. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has overseen operations to remove Syria’s chemical arsenal.
The deal came after hundreds of people were killed in an August 2013 chemical attack in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said there were five children and four women among those executed by the terrorists before withdrawal from areas under their control in the northwestern city.
“The bodies of martyrs were found inside prisons belonging to terrorist groups in al-Sukkari and al-Kallaseh neighborhoods… Upon close examination, the civilians were found to have been shot at from a very close range,” said Director of Aleppo Forensics, Zaher Hajo.
The military fully liberated Aleppo on December 22 in the final stage of a weeks-long push. The militants had been controlling the city’s eastern part since 2012, a year after foreign-backed militancy swept over the country.
As the terrorists were feeling the heat from army advances, they began using civilians as human shields to hamstring Syrian troops in their operations.