Syrian troops backed by tanks entered villages in the Jebel az-Zawiya district of the northwestern province of Edleb near the Turkish border, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP on Saturday.

“The tanks and armored personnel carriers entered Sarjeh and neighboring villages and the army is pounding caves dug into the mountains which [anti-regime] militants often use as hideouts,” said Rami Abdel Rahman.

The army swept through Jebel az-Zawiya at the end of June to crush mounting anti-regime dissent there, arresting scores of people.

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