Syria govt forces retake key highway
Beirut: Government forces battling rebels in northwestern Syria took full control on Tuesday of a key highway, over which they lost control in 2012, linking the country’s four largest cities.
The latest gain marked another step in the government’s advance against Syria’s last rebel-held pocket, where intense fighting has displaced 700,000 civilians since December.
The remaining rebel fighters and some three million civilians are being pushed ever closer to the Turkish border by the regime’s inexorable northward push.
The M5 motorway which links the capital Damascus to the second city of Aleppo through the cities of Homs and Hama has been a key government target for years.
On Tuesday, government and allied forces retook the Rashideen al-Rabea area near Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“That means they control the entire M5 for the first time since 2012,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the UK-based war monitor, told AFP.
The government’s advance also helps secure Aleppo, the country’s former industrial hub, which still comes under sporadic rocket fire from holdout rebel groups.
The war in Syria, which started with a popular movement against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule that was brutally repressed, has killed more than 380,000 people in nine years and displaced around half of the country’s population. - AFP