BEIRUT - Syria's army said it pushed rebels out of the southern town of Qara on Tuesday, strengthening its hold on a highway linking the capital to government strongholds along the Mediterranean coast.
There was no immediate comment from insurgents on the assault by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, which began on Friday. But regional news channel Al Mayadeen broadcast images of Syrian soldiers walking in Qara's empty streets.
The town sits on the strategic route 80 km (50 miles) north of Damascus in the Qalamoun mountains.
Securing the highway would help Assad consolidate his power bases, while also clearing a route to transport chemical agents out of the country under a US and Russian-backed program to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal.