Assad's forces counter rebel gains in eastern Syrian city

By REUTERS
August 20, 2013 20:15

 
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AMMAN - Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces attacked rebel positions in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Tuesday, days after a rebel advance threatened to bring the whole city under the control of anti-Assad forces, opposition activists said.

The provincial capital on the banks of the Euphrates, 430 km (270 miles) northeast of Damascus, anchors a vast, arid oil-producing region bordering Iraq. Half of it fell to rebels a year ago but Assad's forces have held out in several districts in the west of the Sunni Muslim city and in the airport to the east.

A rebel coalition led by a Qatari-backed force and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front captured the western al-Hawiqa district last week, seizing army and security compounds as well as Assad's ruling Baath Party headquarters, the activists said.

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