URGENT: Syrian Army Captures Key Southern Rebel Town in Daraa
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian army troops and allied militia including fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement “seized control of Sheikh Miskeen” with the help of Russian and Syrian government air strikes.
The town, in Daraa province, lies on a vital crossroads between Damascus to the north and the government-controlled city of Sweida to the east, AFP reported.
A day earlier, Syrian army sources said the army had taken control of more than 90 percent of Sheikh Miskeen.
The UK-based group said the clashes are now taking place outside the western parts of Sheikh Miskeen, which lies at a crossroads linking the provinces of Suwaida, Quneitra and Damascus to the southern part of the country.
The army, backed by airstrikes carried out by Russian and Syrian warplanes, launched the offensive against militants in the town late last month.
A security source told AFP that Sheikh Miskeen was a “launching pad” for militant operations, and one of the opposition’s “centers of gravity for the whole of Dera’a Province.”
Damascus has been fighting foreign-backed militant groups in the country since 2011.
Gains by the government have come at a speedier pace over the past months, especially since late September 2015, when Russia endorsed a request by Damascus to dispatch its warplanes over Syria for combat sorties against positions of Takfiri terrorists.