Syria pushing to retake key area near capital
The Syrian army has escalated the push to retake from militants a strategic area near Damascus where a spring supplies the capital with much of its water.
Syrian Air Force fighter jets carried out a number of airstrikes against militant positions in the Wadi Barada Valley, located about 18 kilometers northwest of the capital, and artillery units shelled the area.
Local residents said Syrian military operations on Monday focused on Baseimeh Village at the edge of the valley, where army soldiers and allied fighters from popular defense groups launched a major offensive last Friday to recapture it after terrorists refused to surrender and leave the mountainous area near the Lebanese border.
The Takfiri militants earlier contaminated drinking water supplies to Damascus with diesel. The Damascus water authority had to cut water supplies to the capital and resort to using water reserves on Friday after extremists polluted the al-Fija spring in the militant-held Barada Valley.
Separately, a high-ranking militant with the Daesh terrorist group has been killed in an airstrike by the US-led coalition bombarding areas in Syria.
The strike targeted the city of al-Thawrah, also known as al-Tabqah, which lies approximately 55 kilometers west of the northern city of al-Raqqah, and killed a Kuwaiti national identified as Abu Jandal.
Also on Monday, Syrian military aircraft bombarded a Daesh supply line linking Aqirbat region in the western-central province of Hama to the ancient city of Palmyra.
Additionally, a number of Takfiri militants and their families fled the western flank of the liberated northern city of Aleppo toward the Turkish border.
A Syrian army unit also discovered a major cache loaded with a considerable amount of munitions in an Aleppo neighborhood. The Syrian military later released footage of the weapons depot.
Several militants were also killed and wounded when they engaged in fierce clashes with government forces near an oil pumping station on the western outskirts of Palmyra.