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Assad's forces recapture rebel border town

Source: Reuters - Wed, 9 Apr 2014 10:28 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds state television says town recaptured)

BEIRUT, April 9 (Reuters) - Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad recaptured the rebel-held Syrian border town of Rankous on Wednesday, military sources and state television said, consolidating their control over a former rebel supply line from neighbouring Lebanon.

The capture of Rankous was the latest stage of an offensive by the army and Hezbollah fighters to seal off the border region and secure the main highway leading north from Damascus towards central Syria, Homs and the Mediterranean coast.

"Army units completed their operations in Rankous and restored security and stability to the town after killing a large number of terrorists," state television said.

Wednesday's advance took place less than a month after Hezbollah and the Syrian army recaptured the rebel stronghold of Yabroud, choking off the vital supply line into central Syria.

Backed by Shi'ite fighters from Hezbollah and Iraq as well as Russian weapons and Iranian military commanders, Assad has regained territory around Damascus and central Syria leading to the coastal strongholds of his Alawite minority.

But the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels and foreign jihadi fighters still control most of eastern Syria and the north, and are fighting Assad's forces in north of the coastal province of Latakia. (Reporting By Dominic Evans; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

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