Middle East

Syrian government troops recapture southern town near capital

Syrian army forces have retaken full control of a town near the capital Damascus after foreign-backed gunmen agreed to withdraw from the area and move to militant-held areas in the northwestern province of Idlib under a deal with the Damascus government.

The Russian military’s Center for Reconciliation in Syria announced in a statement on Friday that government troops recaptured Khan al-Shih, located about 25 kilometers southwest of Damascus, the previous day.

The statement added that 1,846 militants and 1,164 of their relatives have already moved to Idlib, located roughly 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Damascus, onboard buses provided by the government.

It noted another 100 armed men and 300 members of their families will head towards Idlib within the next few days.

Khan al-Shih had been under the control of foreign-backed militants since 2012.

Similarly, foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants have begun leaving al-Tall city, located about 10 kilometers northeast of the capital, under a deal with authorities this week.

An unnamed military source said on Friday that nearly one thousand militants and their families started moving to the terrorist-held city of Idlib in the afternoon after handing in their assault rifles.

The source added that Syrian officials have allocated a few dozen buses to transfer the militants from al-Tall, with a population of over 700,000 people, to Idlib.

Syrian government forces also won significant gains in other parts of the country on Friday.

Army soldiers targeted a militant hideout in al-Rastan city, located 25 kilometers north of Homs, killing and injuring scores of Takfiri terrorists.

A large number of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, terrorists were also killed and wounded when government forces pounded their positions in al-Bajabjeh area of Dara’a al-Balad district in the southwestern city of Dara’a, located about 90 kilometers south of Damascus.

The conflict in Syria, which flared up in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

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