Syrian forces have gained more ground from insurgents in the country's northwest, edging closer to a major rebel-held town, a day after militants shot down a government warplane in the area.
The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said pro-government fighters captured three small villages, just west of the rebel stronghold of Khan Sheikhoun.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said the villages fell on Thursday morning. It says the town of Khan Sheikhoun is being bombarded relentlessly.
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Syrian troops have been on the offensive in Idlib and its surroundings, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria, since April 30.