Syria troops seize strategic town of Qara

Fall of Qara strengthens the regime's hold of a highway linking the capital to government strongholds along the coast.

    State media SANA also quoted a military source saying that the army "eliminated terrorists" [EPA]
    State media SANA also quoted a military source saying that the army "eliminated terrorists" [EPA]

    Syria troops have captured the village of Qara in the mountainous Qalamoun region along a key supply route between Damascus and Homs.

    The capture of the strategic area on Tuesday comes days after pro-Assad forces launched an offensive against the town near the Lebanese border.

    "After three days of fighting, the Syrian army has taken full control of Qara," a Syrian military source told AFP news agency, adding that a "large number" of rebel fighters were killed.

    State media SANA also quoted a military source as saying that the army "eliminated terrorists" last gatherings and destroyed their weapons".

    There was no immediate comment from rebels, who use the region around Qara to cross over from Lebanon. But regional news channel Al Mayadeen broadcast images of a reporter walking with Syrian soldiers through Qara's empty streets.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said that the al-Nusra Front, a rebel group, had announced its withdrawal from Qara and "promised to be back soon".

    The fighting in Qara, which is about 100km north of the capital, forced at least 1,700 families across the border into Lebanon, which is already hosting more than 800,000 Syrian refugees and has suffered from rising unrest linked to the Syrian conflict next door.

    The UN refugee agency UNHCR estimates at least 6,000 people have fled to the Lebanese town of Arsal, near the border, since last Friday.

    "Refugees have told us that they spent days living in underground shelters before deciding to flee," said Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency.

    The Syrian civil war has claimed an estimated 120,000 lives and generated the biggest refugee crisis in two decades, raising fears that the conflict could spill over into volatile neighbouring states like Lebanon and Iraq.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.