Government forces on the offensive in central Hama province

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Syria's state media and opposition activists say government forces and their allies are advancing in the central province of Hama under the cover of intense airstrikes.

Monday's push toward the town of Tibet al-Imam came a day after troops and pro-government militiamen captured the town of Soran, a month after Soran was lost in a rebel offensive.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian air force jets had conducted nearly 25 airstrikes on Tibet al-Imam and nearby villages since midnight.

Syrian state news agency SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying that troops are now at the eastern entrance of Tibet al-Imam after capturing nearby hills under the cover of intense bombardment.

Opposition fighters captured several area towns and villages last month in a large-scale offensive.