Syrian army seizes Damascus suburb from rebels

By REUTERS
October 24, 2013 16:47
1 minute read.

 
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Syrian forces seized a suburb of Damascus on Thursday from rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad in a push that has shored up government control of the capital's outskirts, state television reported.

Assad's forces, backed by Shi'ite fighters from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, have been gaining ground around Damascus since last month, storming several rebel-held suburbs and choking off supplies to others in the east and south.

Although neither side appears to have the strength to gain a decisive edge over the other in the 2-1/2-year-old conflict, the government's offensive has bolstered its position ahead of expected international peace talks.

Syrian state television said the army had "extended full control" over Hatetat al-Turkman, southeast of Damascus near the airport road, cutting off an arms and ammunition supply route to rebels occupying a crescent of suburbs around the capital.

The armed forces seized the area in a 48-hour assault from five directions, the report said, showing live footage of Syrian soldiers deployed in the area.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah had assisted in the assault. Hezbollah is backed by Assad's ally Iran and has sent fighters into Syria to support government forces.


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