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Syrian army advances in southwest against IS militants

Reuters , Tuesday 24 Jul 2018
Syria
Smoke can be seen following an explosion at the Syrian side of the Israeli-Syrian border as it is seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel July 23, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)
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The Syrian army has captured some areas held by Islamic State (IS) militants  in a region of the southwest near the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, state media said on Tuesday.

Engineering units were sweeping the areas taken in the Yarmouk basin region for mines and booby traps, it reported, citing a military source.

Recapturing the Yarmouk basin from IS would bring all of southwest Syria, long a crucible of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, back under his control along with the entire frontiers with Israel and Jordan.

The army's Russian-backed offensive to recover southwestern Syria has already defeated rebels fighting Assad, but the Yarmouk Basin has remained under IS control.

Fighting near the Golan Heights frontier is sensitive to Israel, which on Monday said it had used two missiles to bring down rockets launched in the battle between the Syrian army and IS.

IS lost most of its territory last year after rival offensives by the army, backed by Russia, and an alliance of U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab militias swept through eastern Syria.

This year it also lost its foothold near Damascus in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. However, it has maintained an insurgent campaign in some desert areas in the east.

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