MILITARY SEIZES KEY SWATH OF LAND IN COUNTRY’S CENTRE
BEIRUT Syria’s military said Wednesday it has restored government control over a large area in central Syria, securing a power station, a refinery and a cement factory after uprooting the armed opposition.
With the latest victory, Syrian government forces secure roads between the country’s three main cities — Damascus, Aleppo and Homs — for the first time since the civil war began in 2011.
The surrender in northern Homs and southern Hama adds to what has been described as one of the largest population shifts in Syria since the conflict began.
Since March, around 200,000 people were forced to relocate to other parts of the country as part of surrender deals after crippling sieges and bombardment by government forces, according to the UN.
More than 30,000 have left northern Homs and southern Hama in the last few days alone, while the majority of the displaced came from the eastern Ghouta suburbs near Damascus.
The government announcement came after the last batch of rebels and opposition left from the area following a deal reached earlier this month with rebels who were in control for years.
A family rides on a motorcycle in the town of Talbiseh on Wednesday after Syria’s military took control of the area.