[QODLink]
Middle East

Syrian forces take two villages near Lebanon

The villages of Flita and Ras Maara have fallen to government forces, securing a major supply route for President Assad.

Last updated: 29 Mar 2014 12:33
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The fall of the villages is likely to push more rebel fighters and refugees into Lebanon [Reuters]

Syrian government forces have captured two villages near the border with Lebanon after clashes with opposition fighters, according to state media.

The villages of Flita and Ras Maara fell into the hands of government forces on Saturday morning, helping President Bashar al-Assad secure the route connecting Damascus with Aleppo and the Mediterranean coast.

"The army and armed forces restored stability and security to the towns of Ras Maara and Flita... after getting rid of the fleeing terrorists and destroying their weapons," state news agency SANA said.

The fall of the villages is likely to push more rebel fighters and refugees over the border into Lebanon, risking further destabilisation in the region.

The villages were the latest targets of a government offensive in the rugged Qalamoun border area after troops captured the town of Yabroud earlier this month. Tens of thousands of Syrians have already fled into Lebanon since the Qalamoun offensive began in November.

Lack of progress on Syria aid

Meanwhile, the United Nations' humanitarian chief on Friday told the UN's Security Council that the Assad regime's delays in withholding cross-border aid deliveries were "arbitrary and unjustified" and against international law.

Valerie Amos gave her first such report since the Security Council last month approved a resolution demanding that both the government and opposition allow immediate access everywhere in the country to deliver aid.

"The administrative arrangements that have been put in place for clearance for our convoys are quite convoluted," Amos told Reuters in an interview, after briefing the UN Security Council about how much-needed aid is still not reaching many in Syria.

She said different procedures applied to aid convoys involving multiple agencies and those of individual agencies, make it difficult for aid workers to deliver relief supplies. 

"Even if we have the agreement of the government in Damascus, we have examples of individuals on the ground that support the government... who will prevent us from crossing certain checkpoints or prevent us from delivering aid."

330

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.