| USWorld

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

Assad's forces take suburb of capital

Email Newsletters

Click here to 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. Russia missiles fall short of Syria, land onIran soil
  2. Nobel laureate Alexievich of Belarus elevates world view of journalism
  3. U.S. warships may ply South China Sea
  4. Mecca pilgrimage death toll at 1,399
  5. EU hardens stance on immigration
  6. Stabbing attacks by Palestinians spread in Israel
  7. Svetlana Alexievich of Belarus wins Nobel literature prize
  8. Mexico’s army chief denies troops involved in massacre
  9. With end of sanctions in sight, Iran invites foreign investment in oil fields
  10. 10 aboard U.S. aircraft killed in crash in Afghanistan
  11. Russia dominates skies over Syria