Syrian troops keep progressing on ground amid upcoming Geneva II conference

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-11-20 9:20:33

The Syrian troops on Tuesday scored a new strategic victory against the rebels in the northern countryside of capital Damascus, as Moscow is witnessing a flurry of diplomatic activities aimed at paving the way for a successful peace conference on the Syrian crisis in Geneva.

The Syrian troops on Tuesday completely recaptured the strategic town of Qara in the northern countryside of Damascus, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

The army recaptured Qara, which is located in the al-Qalamoun Mountains north of Damascus and close to the Lebanese borders, after eliminating the last "terrorist pockets" there, SANA said.

The Syrian troops have started a large-scale offensive against the rebels in the north of Damascus earlier this week to dislodge them from Qara that was vital for the rebels who were wishing to attack the capital from its northern gate.

The recent battles in Qara have resulted in the death of tens of rebels as the army was ready to advance deeper into al- Qalamoun Mountains.

For the government troops, controlling the area is important to secure the road from Damascus to the central province of Homs, and to cut off the rebels' supply line from the Lebanese town of Ersal, which is adjacent to al-Qalamoun Mountains.

The military operation in the northern rim of Damascus came along with a series of operations in the southern and eastern countryside of Damascus as part of the military tactic to dislodge the rebels from key areas of Damascus, Homs and the northern province of Aleppo.

The rebels in Syria are attributing the sweeping victories of Syrian troops to the participation of the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group and another Iraqi Shiite militia alongside the government troops in their fight against the several rebels' factions in Syria.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has recently announced that the group's fighters will continue fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad's forces.

Earlier on Tuesday, twin bombings rocked Lebanon's capital city of Beirut in Hezbollah's stronghold on the southern suburbs near the Iranian embassy in Beirut, leaving at least 23 killed and 146 others injured.

Both bombings were related to the Syrian crisis and the involvement of Lebanese political factions, particularly Hezbollah in the ongoing fighting in the war-torn country, according to local observers.

The Syrian government vehemently condemned the bombings, saying "This cowered act reflects the involvement of the terrorism makers, supporters and protectors in the region and their determination to spread terrorism to destroy the region."

Aside from the incidents on ground and its complications that are spilling into neighboring Lebanon, the international efforts are still focusing on coordinating and preparing for the proposed Geneva II peace conference.

The long-delayed conference is designed to bring together representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition parties to craft a political solution to the long-lingering conflict.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Moscow with Syria's presidential advisor Bouthaina Shaaban and Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad to discuss the prospects for the Geneva II peace conference.

Local al-Watan daily said Tuesday that the Syrian delegation to Moscow had carried out discussions with the Russian officials in " good and comfortable" atmospheres.

Russia has also invited Syrian opposition groups to travel to Moscow for talks to bridge their differences on the planned peace conference.

"Russia was one of the main countries that supported the Geneva II conference and the political solution to the crisis in Syria," Hmaidi Abdullah, a political expert told Xinhua Tuesday.

Abdulla added that "Russia is making exceptional efforts to make the Geneva II conference successful because the US is showing little enthusiasm toward it."

Posted in: Mid-East

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