Sunday 17 November 2013 - 09:18

Syrian army pushes back militants near capital

Story Code : 321773
Syrian army pushes back militants near capital
On Saturday, the army kept up its operations against the militants’ positions in Harasta in the northeastern suburb of Damascus.
“We confront the militants here and advance street by street. They use mortars and snipers a lot. Soon we will eliminate them all,” said an army soldier.
The presence of militants, who have looted apartments, shops, schools, and kindergartens, has forced many residents of Harasta to leave the town.
The militants have even desecrated a mosque in the town and burned copies of the Holy Quran.
More than 70 percent of the town is currently controlled by the Syrian army, whose soldiers try to stop militants from infiltrating into the secured areas after the army makes gains.
“We set cameras that show us all the streets here. We monitor armed men who try to infiltrate and cross the street. We eliminated several of them. Many of them are from the [al-Qaeda-linked] al-Nusra Front and they sometimes raise their black flags,” said another army soldier.
Earlier in the day, the government troops recaptured positions in the town of Tel Hasel on the outskirts the northwestern city of Aleppo.
Syrian soldiers also managed to regain control of the towns of Hawarin and Mahin in the eastern countryside of the province of Homs.
In recent weeks, the Syrian army has made fresh advances in its fight against foreign-backed militants.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside the country.
According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for over two years.
The UN also says more than four million other Syrians will be forced out of their homes in 2014 by the escalating conflict in the country.
Two million Syrians are expected to take refuge outside the country while another 2.25 million are predicted to be internally displaced next year.