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Syria: Government army makes huge advance

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Syrian troops crushed armed insurgent groups on Saturday at the southern edge of the capital. According to a Syrian military source, as a result of the anti-terrorist operations, the Deraa-Damascus highway, which leads to the border with Jordan, has been completely cleared of terrorist and insurgent forces, Voice of Russia Reported.

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The Army, reports the SANA news agency, has engaged in a successful offensive in the southern direction.

“In the area of ​​Khirbet Gazzalya the army encircled and destroyed large patches of armed extremists who terrorized citizens, and engaged in sabotage and looting,” said the agency.

The army also liberated Jassem on the outskirts of the provincial center of Deraa, where militants of the terrorist group Al-Nusra Dzhebhat had been based.

“Residents of the southern areas may no longer be afraid for their lives. Driving on the highway to Damascus was safe,” said SANA.

According to the agency, during the raids two leaders of mercenary groups were eliminated, a Saudi citizen Omar Al-Shammari and Mahmoud al-Kuwaiti Mteyri.

In the north of Syria, government forces repelled the rebels trying to block the highway between the cities of Hama and Aleppo.

The Syrian military source denied reports from “hostile channels” that militants had allegedly seized the town of Abil and again threatened the international airport north of the capital. Abil remains under the control of the Syrian army. The city remains calm,” said the source.

Meanwhile, Syrian rebels have freed four Filipino U.N. peacekeepers who they had captured on the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last week, the Philippines’ foreign minister said on Sunday.

Al Jazeera English television, monitored in Dubai, quoted sources as saying the four had been transferred to Israel.

On Saturday, Syrian militants attacked ancient St. Elijah Orthodox Christian monastery near Al-Qusayr not far from the Lebanese border.

The militants ransacked the cloister, destroyed the sanctuary, blew up the belfry and tore down the statue of St. Prophet Elijah who is equally revered in Syria by both Christians and Muslims, Syria’s SANA news agency reports, quoting the head of the monastery, hegumen Gadir Ibrahim.

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