Syrian troops capture wide area on border with Jordan

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BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces and their allies on Thursday captured a key area along the border with Jordan in their latest push against insurgents groups there.

Syrian state media said the capture closes major smuggling points used by rebels to bring in weapons and fighters from Jordan into the war-torn country.

Syrian state TV reported that the troops captured an area of 1,300 square kilometers (502 square miles), in addition to some strategic hills.

The opposition's Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the push by the troops, saying the government took advantage of a truce in nearby Daraa province to launch an offensive in the adjacent region of Sweida that borders Jordan.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops captured all the border observation points along 30 kilometers (18 miles) of the border with Jordan.

Syrian troops have captured wide areas around the country over the past year, mostly under the cover of Russian airstrikes.

The push toward the Jordan border came as Syrian troops clashed for the third consecutive day on another front line, this one with the Islamic State group in the central province of Homs.

IS militants used suicide car bombs in the counteroffensive on Syrian troops marching east toward the province of Deir el-Zour, which borders Iraq.

The Observatory said the fighting between Syrian troops and IS has killed 48 on the government side since Wednesday. It added that 35 IS fighters were also killed in the battle, including five who blew themselves up in their vehicles.

The military media agency released a video showing bodies said to be of slain IS fighters in the area.

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