MIL­I­TARY SEIZES KEY SWATH OF LAND IN COUN­TRY’S CEN­TRE

Edmonton Journal - - WORLD -

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.

LOUAI BESHARA / AFP / GETTY IM­AGES

A fam­ily rides on a mo­tor­cy­cle in the town of Tal­biseh on Wed­nes­day after Syria’s mil­i­tary took con­trol of the area.

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