The Syrian army advanced into the town of Taybet al Imam in Hama province on Thursday, expanding its territory along the strategic western highway between Damascus and Aleppo, the army and rebels said.
The government forces were backed by heavy Russian aerial strikes across a large swathe of territory to the west of the M5 highway held by rebels in their six-year civil war, they said.
The rebels said the army was also joined by Iranian-backed militias in the push into Taybet al Imam, which was seized by rebels last year from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
Sources gave slightly different versions of the current state of the conflict in Taybet al Imam, which lies 18 km north of Hama city.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army had now taken the town, after a ground assault this morning that caused losses on both sides after days of heavy bombing.
A rebel source confirmed the army had taken over the western outskirts of Taybet al Imam and said rebels were retreating from parts of the town to cut losses from the heavy aerial bombing.
State media, quoting army sources, said the army was making significant progress in its campaign to take over the town but gave no details.