Syrian government forces have driven out foreign - backed militants from around the city of Homs as the army continues clearing operations in the west of the country.

The gains came on Tuesday as Syrian soldiers were clearing more Homs suburbs as well as the district of al - Qusayr, viewed as the main stronghold of armed militants in the area. Dozens of explosive devices were found and defused while army forces captured large numbers of other weapons from the militants. In the last few days, the Syrian Army had managed to seize a number of strategic towns and villages near the border with Lebanon. Among them was the village of Abel, which lies just four kilometers from the main route that runs among Homs, Damascus and the northern province of Aleppo. On Saturday, the army took four key villages of Qadesh, Mansouriyah, As’adiyah, and Radwaniyah - all located around al - Qusayr - in heavy clashes with armed groups. Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence. The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants fighting in the country are foreign nationals. Several international human rights organizations have condemned the foreign - sponsored militants for committing war crimes.