DAMASCUS, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army on Monday fully wrested back control over three towns in the central province of Hama and the northern Aleppo province, according to the official SANA news agency reported.
The Syrian troops recaptured the key town of Ma'an in Hama, just days after the al-Qaida-inspired groups massacred more than 42 civilians, including women and children, according to SANA.
In Aleppo, the troops recaptured the towns of Sheikh Najjar and al-Ghalli Hill after intense clashes with the armed rebels.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a rebel commander of the Jund al-Islam battalion was killed Monday at al-Zara village in the central province of Homs.
Faisal Dawood Okla escaped from the Roumiyeh prison in Lebanon in October 2012 and joined the battle against the government troops in Syria before his death in Homs Monday, according to the activists' report.
In the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, the Observatory said that eight rebels, including a 14-year-old combatant and a local commander, were killed by two car bombs targeting rebels' checkpoint and another position in the eastern countryside of the oil-rich province.
The Observatory didn't elaborate but the attack apparently was part of the rebel-on-rebel fighting that has escalated over the past couple of months in many rebel-held areas, mainly in Aleppo and Deir al-Zour.