News / Middle East

Rebels Claim Army Post Near Syria's Southern Border

Free Syrian Army fighters head toward the frontline in a convoy, where clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are taking place, in Idlib, April 3, 2013.Free Syrian Army fighters head toward the frontline in a convoy, where clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are taking place, in Idlib, April 3, 2013.
x
Free Syrian Army fighters head toward the frontline in a convoy, where clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are taking place, in Idlib, April 3, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters head toward the frontline in a convoy, where clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are taking place, in Idlib, April 3, 2013.

Location

M20, Syria
Reuters
Syrian rebels said they overran an army garrison that defends the main southern border crossing with Jordan on Friday and vowed to press on to take control of the major transit route.

Fighters from the Free Syrian Army said they captured the Um al-Mayathen post on the main Damascus-Jordan highway in heavy fighting overnight that ended a siege that lasted more than a week. Dozens died in the clashes they said.

"It [the garrison] is a major defense and now we will lay siege to the border crossing and cut their [the Damascus government's] supply lines," said Abu Omar, commander of the Lions of the Sunna Brigade, by phone.

The army post is several kilometers from Syria's Nassib border crossing which, before Syria's two-year-old civil war broke out, funneled billions of dollars of trade between Gulf countries, Turkey and Europe.

Fierce fighting in border provinces

Syria's southern provinces bordering Jordan and Israel have become an increasingly significant battleground as the capital comes under pressure, with President Bashar al-Assad's forces and his loyalist militias hitting back hard.

The intensified fighting has also led to an unprecedented influx of refugees through Jordan's 370 km (230 mile) border with Syria this year.

Rebels have stepped up fighting for control of the border area and the nearby town of Deraa in the last two months, gaining territory and capturing several bases.

They also have overrun several towns near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, increasing tensions in the sensitive military zone.

Gaining momentum

Only two weeks ago they seized an air defense base near the strategic southern international highway, bolstering access to supply routes to the capital Damascus.

Rebels say their capture of large amounts of weapons, ammunition and vehicles has helped them to maintain an offensive after a long period in which the southern border area was quiet compared to northern and eastern parts of Syria.

"The latest gains have given us more weapons, helping the free army to mount even more attacks on key army positions," said Abu Salim, from Liwa Tawheed al Janoob brigade.

Jordan has stepped up security and deployed more troops to the border, a Jordanian army source said.

Diplomatic and regional intelligence sources also said Amman was allowing limited supplies of light arms to moderate rebel groups opposed to the Nusra front, an Islamist militant group suspected of links to al Qaida and blacklisted by the United States as a "terrorist group."

  • People walking down a street are pictured through a hole in a building in Deir al-Zor, Syria, April 4, 2013.
  • People ride a motorcycle past a damaged car in Deir al-Zor, Syria, April 4, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters head towards the frontline in a convoy, Idlib, Syria, April 3, 2013.
  • Smoke rises after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs, April 1, 2013.
  • Women members of the Al-Ikhlas (Loyalty) Battalion rest with their weapons in Aleppo, Syria, March 31, 2013.
  • A man prays at the grave of a Free Syrian Army fighter at a cemetery at al-Karak al-Sharqi in Deraa, Syria, March 30, 2013.
  • Residents gather outside a bakery to buy bread in al-Harak city, Deraa, Syria, March 27, 2013.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs