BEIRUT

Middle East

88 dead in two days of clashes in Syria's Daraa

In this Thursday April 17, 2014 photo, Syrian children play under the heat of the midday sun at Zaatari refugee camp, near the Syrian border in Jordan. Life in this sprawling camp, Zaatari, is only getting harder for 130,000 residents, most of them fleeing fighting in south Syria. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

BEIRUT: At least 88 rebel and regime forces have been killed in two days of clashes for control of strategic sites in Syria's southern Daraa province, an monitoring group said Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in Britain said 45 opposition fighters and 43 regime forces had been killed in the fighting that began on Thursday.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that rebel forces, including fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front, had seized the strategic Tal al-Jabiyeh hill on Thursday.

Clashes were continuing as the opposition fighters sought to take another hilltop nearby in a bid to connect territory they hold in Daraa and the Quneitra region, alongside the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Observatory said rebel forces had seized weapons and ammunition during the clashes and that regime forces had called in support from heavy artillery and helicopters to try to retake the hill.

On Saturday, Abdel Rahman said, the opposition was focusing its efforts on capturing Tal Jamu, some five kilometres (three miles) from Tal al-Jabiyeh, in a bid to link areas under its control.

 

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