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Assad’s forces defeat rebels at key stronghold near Jordan border

Special to WorldTribune.com

NICOSIA — The Syrian Army has been rolling through Sunni rebel
strongholds in the south.

On May 8, the Syrian Army advanced deep into the south near the border
with Jordan. Army units captured a southern town held by the rebels and
located on the main highway to Jordan.

Syrian forces took the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh from rebels on May 8.

Syrian forces took the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh from rebels on May 8.

“This allows regime forces to gain complete access to the Jordanian
border,” a Western diplomat said.

The regime capture of Khirbet Ghazaleh capped a two-month Army offensive against the Free Syrian Army. The offensive included the siege of Khirbat, located in the Hauran Plain near Dera, as well as nightly shelling. At least 35 fighters were killed in the artillery attacks.

Opposition sources said FSA units, which comprised 1,000 fighters,
withdrew from Khirbat amid a shortage of weapons. They said Khirbat marked a major rebel stronghold that allowed FSA to maintain positions around Dera, a key target of the Syrian Army.

FSA has sought to expand the flow of weapons from neighboring Jordan,
which reinforced troops along the Syrian border. But the sources said the
rebel military leadership, controlled by Jordanian intelligence, failed to
send arms or supplies.

The sources acknowledged that the Syrian Army and security forces have
rolled back rebel gains over the last year. They said Assad forces were
bolstered by soldiers from Iran and Hizbullah as well as equipment from
Moscow and Teheran.

In a related development, a leading Al Qaida-aligned commander was
injured in a Syrian Army attack near Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights said Abu Mohammed Al Jawlani, commander of Al Nusra Front for
the Protection of the Levant, was injured in an army bombing on May 8.

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