| USWorld

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Assad's forces take suburb of capital

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

BEIRUT — Syrian troops captured a contested suburb of Damascus on Wednesday as the government forged ahead with a punishing military offensive that already has taken four other opposition strongholds south of the capital, state media said.

For more than a year, much of the belt of neighborhoods and towns just south of Damascus has been a rebel bastion and a key arms conduit for the opposition. But government forces — bolstered by fighters from Lebanon's Shiite militant Hezbollah group and Shiite militants from Iraq — have made significant headway there in recent weeks as President Bashar Assad pushes to shore up his hold on the capital and its doorstep.

The recent government advances could give Assad's government a stronger position in proposed peace talks that the United States and Russia have been trying to convene since May.

The town of Hejeira on Wednesday became the latest rebel-held suburb to fall into government hands. State news agency SANA said the army seized control of the town, but was still battling rebels on the outskirts.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group confirmed that government forces were in control of most of Hejeira, but said there were still small pockets of resistance.

The opposition's hold on Hejeira became untenable after the military captured the adjacent town of Sabina in recent days.

While the government has driven the rebels from several of their footholds around the capital, the opposition is still within striking distance of the center of Damascus, and fires barrages of mortar rounds into the city daily.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. EU expects ‘immediate’ clampdown on migrants in $3.2B deal with Turkey
  2. Senators call for 20,000 more troops in Syria and Iraq
  3. Pope Francis appeals for peace amid tight security in Central African Republic
  4. A third of world’s cacti threatened with extinction, report says
  5. Norway mulls using medical heroin to prevent deadly overdoses
  6. Israel suspends contact with some EU groups over labels on exports
  7. Iran gives investors glimpse of $30 billion in oil deals to come
  8. Pakistani doctor who led CIA to bin Laden stuck in prison
  9. France, Russia iron out alliance against Islamic State
  10. Testing of Tut’s tomb hints at hidden chamber
  11. China to reorganize military under joint command