Syrian army captures strategic northern town

Safira, believed to be located near a chemical weapons site, seized from rebels who held the town for more than a year.

    Syrian army captures strategic northern town
    Safira had been controlled by rebels, including some allegedly linked to al-Qaeda, for more than a year [Reuters]

    Syrian government forces have captured a northern town located near a site believed to be linked to the country's chemical weapons programme after days of heavy fighting, Syrian state TV and opposition activists said.

    The town, Safira, is also located on a strategic road that could be used to relieve government-controlled areas of Aleppo, a major nearby city.

    It had been controlled by rebels, including some from units allegedly linked to al-Qaeda, for more than a year.

    "Government forces took control of the strategic Safira town after days of clashes and heavy shelling," the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters news agency.

    Syrian activists in Aleppo province confirmed on Friday that rebels withdrew from the town overnight under heavy fire, leaving it to government troops, The Associated Press reported.

    It has been the scene of three weeks of intense fighting as the army kept trying to retake it from rebels .

    Although unconfirmed, Safira is believed to be one of two sites that chemical weapons inspectors were unable to visit because of security concerns.

    Syria has destroyed all of its declared chemical weapons production and mixing facilities, meeting a major deadline in an ambitious disarmament programme, the international chemical weapons watchdog said in a document seen by Reuters news agency earlier this week.

    The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in the document its teams had inspected 21 out of 23 chemical weapons sites across the country.

    The other two were too dangerous to inspect, but the chemical equipment had already been moved to other sites which experts had visited, it said.

    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.