Middle East

Syrian government force, Hezbollah allies seize town near Damascus: monitors

Syrian government forces and allies including Lebanese Hezbollah fighters seized a strategic town southeast of Damascus from insurgents on Thursday, a monitoring group said.
After heavy fighting in an assault by the government side, rebels were being driven out of the town of Deir al-Asafir in the Syrian capital's Eastern Ghouta suburbs, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The town's capture closed off a pocket of insurgent control in Eastern Ghouta, and could pave the way for further government advances in the region that has long been held by a number of rebel groups, Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said.
Hezbollah fighters played a key role in the assault, he said, which took place near to where the group's top military commander in Syria was recently killed by what it said was rebel shellfire.
Hundreds of families were fleeing the area because of the intensity of the fighting, the Observatory said.
Government forces and their allies have made some advances in Eastern Ghouta recently while insurgent groups in the area have fought among themselves. The capture of Deir al-Asafir was an advance that once again exploited the rebel infighting, Abdulrahman said.

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