DAMASCUS – Army troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad took control Thursday of Deir Atieh, a town in the strategic Al-Qalamoun region north of Damascus, the official Sana news agency reported.
Soldiers took complete control of Deir Atieh and expelled the “terrorist group” that was operating in the town, the news agency reported, citing a military spokesman.
Fighting has raged in the area after the Assad regime launched an offensive on Nov. 15 to take control of Al-Qalamoun, located near the Lebanese border.
The army took Qara, a town north of Deir Atieh, nine days ago.
Government forces have been backed by fighters from the Shiite Hezbollah group and the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigades.
The forces loyal to Assad fought jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the al-Nusra Front, a group linked to Al Qaeda, as well as members of other Islamic groups.
Qara and Deir Atieh are on the highway that links Damascus to Homs province and pro-Assad bastions on the Mediterranean coast.