Syrian government forces are reported to have gained ground from Islamic State (IS) in the west of the country.
State media and activists said troops, backed by Russian air strikes, had seized the towns of Mahin and Hawwarin.
They lie to the east of a strategically important motorway connecting Damascus with major cities to the north.
The army has launched a series of offensives since Russia launched an air campaign to bolster President Bashar al-Assad’s government on 30 September.
Russia has said it has targeted only “terrorists”, but activists say its strikes have mainly hit Western-backed rebel groups which are opposed to IS.