The rebel gains came as the United Nations yesterday launched what it said was its “largest short-term humanitarian appeal ever”, for $1.5 billion to help millions of Syrians suffering a “dramatically deteriorating” humanitarian situation.
“The violence in Syria is raging across the country and there are nearly no more safe areas where people can flee and find safety,” Radhouane Nouicer, U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, told a news briefing in Geneva .
The Syrian opposition has scored significant military and diplomatic gains in recent weeks, capturing several army installations across Syria and securing formal recognition from Western and Arab states for its new coalition.
The capture of large parts of Hama province could now give the rebels effective control of a stretch of territory from the northern Turkish border 180 km (110 miles) to the north.
Qassem Saadeddine, a member of the rebel military command, said most of the rural western part of Hama province, which stretches to the foothills of the mountains which are home to Assad’s minority Alawite community, was under the control of the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels.
Saadeddine announced the rebel offensive in Hama on Sunday. Assad’s opponents already hold much of the northern provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, and are fighting to advance from the southern Damascus suburbs towards the heart of the capital.