Syrian rebels capture key town near Jordan border

Syrians living in Jordan take part in a protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman March 29, 2013.

Syrian rebels on Friday captured the strategic town of Dael near the border with Jordan, after a day of fierce clashes that killed at least 38 people, activists said.

Sixteen rebels were among the dead, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The town lies less than 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the Jordanian border in Daraa province, where the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began two years ago.

The rebel gains have coincided with what regional officials and military experts say is a sharp increase in weapons shipments to opposition fighters by Arab governments in coordination with the United States.

Although rebels control wide areas in northern Syria that border Turkey, the Jordanian frontier is only about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Damascus, or a third of the distance to the Turkish border.

“Rebels now control wide areas in the Daraa countryside,” said Rami Abdul-Rahman who heads the observatory. “Every area that goes out of government control is important.”

Despite the steady advances and the latest rebel victory in Dael, the regime still maintains a strong presence in the strategic province that leads to the capital, said Syrian activist Maher Jamous, who is from Dael.

He added that the capture of the town increases the pressure on the regime, which is known to have posted elite troops to Daraa province.

Dael has a population of 40,000, making it one of the bigger towns in the primarily agricultural region, which is dotted with small family farms, said Jamous.

Dael was taken by opposition fighters in the early days of the uprising, but was quickly recaptured by regime forces in May 2011, he added.

Amateur videos posted online by activists showed rebels in the streets of Dael, and the bodies of dead soldiers lying on the ground.

(Source / 29.03.2013)

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