Syria says army retakes Homs district from rebels

Reuters , Monday 29 Jul 2013

Syria's Al-Assad regime forces regain control over a rebel-held district of Homs

Syrian authorities said on Monday the army had regained full control over a rebel-held district of Homs after weeks of fighting in the central city which has been at the heart of the two-year uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

"Units of our noble army have completely restored security and stability to Khalidiya neighbourhood," state news agency SANA said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitoring group, said clashes were continuing in Khalidiya on Monday morning. But it said Assad's forces had retaken most of the district, tightening their siege on the few remaining rebel areas in the centre of the city.

The army gains come exactly a month after it started an offensive in Homs as part of a drive to secure an axis linking Damascus to the Mediterranean.

One hundred thousand people have been killed in Syria's two year conflict, which started with peaceful protests against Assad's rule in March 2011.

Nearly 2 million refugees have fled the war, which has become an increasingly sectarian conflict between the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels and supporters of Assad. The president is from Syria's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

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