(Reuters)(Partial actually) –
Syria’s army has pushed rebels out of the southern town of Qara, strengthening its hold on a highway linking the capital to government strongholds along the coast, state media said on Tuesday.
The Syrian Arab Army launched an offensive on Friday against the town, which sits on the strategic route 80 km (50 miles) north of Damascus in the Qalamoun mountains.
Damascus is particularly keen to secure the highway as it wants to use it to transport chemical agents as part of a U.S. and Russian-backed program to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal.
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.
State news agency SANA quoted a military source saying the army “eliminated terrorists’ last gatherings and…
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