Syrian troops capture new areas near Israeli-occupied Golan

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BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces have captured new areas south of the capital Damascus near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, increasing pressure on insurgents.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media reported that Syrian troops and their allies captured Monday three new areas from al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee. It added troops are now about 500 meters (yards) from the shrine of Sheikh Abdullah that is sacred to the country's Druze community.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Right said the fighters are now besieged in the village of Beit Jin and nearby areas after a 10-day intense offensive. It added that negotiations are underway to evacuate insurgents to the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib.

Israel has been concerned about the push by Syrian troops and their Iran-backed allies close to its border.

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