News / Middle East

Syrian Troops Recapture Strategic Town From Jihadist Rebels

  • Residents gather at a site hit by what activists say was a Scud missile from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa, Nov. 28, 2013.
  • Civilians and rescuers search under rubble at a site hit by what activists say was a Scud missile from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa, Nov. 28, 2013.
  • A man walks along a damaged street in Deir al-Zor, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • A view shows damaged buildings along a deserted street in the besieged area of Homs, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • People carry a man on a stretcher after he was injured by shelling in the besieged area of Homs, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters sit together as they rest in Deir al-Zor, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad carry their weapons and walk in Aleppo's village of Aziza, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • A Kurdish Security Forces vehicle is seen damaged from a suicide bombing in Qamishli, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • People carry the body of a civilian activist killed during what activists said was an ambush, during a funeral in eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus, Nov. 24, 2013.
VOA News
Syria says its troops have recaptured a strategic town seized by Islamist rebels last week near the border with Lebanon.

Syrian state media said government forces took control of Deir Attiyeh,  located in the Qalamoun region, on Thursday.

Rebels have been using Qalamoun as a base from which to bring in supplies from Lebanon. The Syrian government has been staging a weeks-long offensive to cut off the rebels from those supply routes.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting in the town had killed five doctors and four other medical workers.

Also Thursday, mortar fire hit the Russian embassy in Damascus, killing a Syrian and wounding nine others.  

Commenting on the incident, the U.S. State Department said the United States condemns "any attack against individuals or facilities protected by international law."

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been trying to strengthen its position in a two-year civil war with rebels ahead of a January 22 peace conference in Geneva.

The U.N.-backed conference aims to bring the government and its opponents together to peacefully resolve the conflict by agreeing on the formation of a transitional government.

Assad's forces received a boost on the battlefield earlier this year, when pro-Assad Lebanese militant group Hezbollah sent its men into Syria to join the fight against the rebels.

In reports published Thursday, Lebanese sources said a nephew of a senior Hezbollah leader was killed in fighting in the Qalamoun region this week. They said the slain militant was a relative of Hussein Haj, who serves as Lebanon's agriculture minister.

In another development, a video posted on the Internet appeared to show radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants publicly executing seven members of a rival, more moderate rebel group in the northern town of Atarib.

In the video, the jihadists accuse the members of the Ghuraba al-Sham battalion of theft and corruption before killing them with gunshots to the head as crowds of supporters cheer.

ISIL has been trying to solidify its power in parts of Syria by eliminating smaller rival groups in pursuit of its goal of an Islamic state. The jihadists reject compromise with the Assad government and say moderate opposition figures willing to attend the Geneva conference do not represent them.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
November 28, 2013 3:23 PM
The only reason that bashar al assad is not facing the International Criminal Court is jurisdiction. Until this hurdle is overcome, he will continue with his killing spree without thinking of the consequences.

He must be held fully accountable for every civilian he has murdered. There is enough evidence to convict him, however no jurisdiction.
In Response

by: comment_here_and_there
November 28, 2013 11:17 PM
there's also evidence to convict ALL the rebels for that very reason
they are all the same there

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs