World News / Middle East

Activists: Syrian Troops Oust Rebels from Southern Town

Free Syrian Army fighters stand near mortar shells on a truck in Khirbet Ghazaleh, Daraa, May 3, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters stand near mortar shells on a truck in Khirbet Ghazaleh, Daraa, May 3, 2013.
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VOA News
A Syrian rights group says government forces have ousted rebels from a southern town on a strategic highway connecting Damascus to the Jordanian border.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad secured control of Khirbet Ghazaleh on Monday. The Syrian government has been waging a counteroffensive against rebels in the southern province of Daraa in recent days, reversing some rebel gains made earlier this month.

Rebels have been trying to seize territory in Daraa to secure supply routes from Jordan, which opposes Assad, and to move closer to his seat of power in Damascus.

In another development, Turkish authorities discovered the bodies of two more people killed in a double car bombing that shook a Turkish town near the Syrian border on Saturday. The bodies were found in the rubble of damaged buildings in Reyhanli, raising the death toll from the attack to at least 48.

The Turkish government has arrested nine Turkish citizens it suspects of carrying out the attack on behalf of a group linked to Syria's intelligence agency.

Turkey also opposes Assad and has provided shelter to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and rebels fighting to oust the Syrian president. Syria has denied involvement in the bombing and accused Turkey of responsibility for supporting terrorists - Assad's term for the rebels.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday his government will not refrain from giving what he called the "necessary response" to the Reyhanli attack, without elaborating. He also reiterated his vow that Turkey will not allow itself to be dragged into the Syrian civil war.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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