Boys play in the remains of a damaged building in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria, December 29, 2015. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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Syrian troops backed by heavy aerial bombardment pushed toward a strategic town in the southern province of Deraa Tuesday after capturing a nearby military base, the army said.The Syrian army said it retook Brigade 82, one of the largest bases north of the mainly rebel-held town of Sheikh Miskeen, whose capture by rebels earlier this year threatened the army's supply routes to the south. A group monitoring the war said later Tuesday that insurgents were putting up fierce resistance and that fighting raged on, counting more than two-dozen airstrikes during the assault. The army offensive toward Sheikh Miskeen is part of the first major assault in southern Syria since Russia launched airstrikes on Sept. 30 to support its ally President Bashar Assad. A rebel in Falujat Hauran brigade said rebel groups, including Al-Qaeda's Syrian branch Nusra Front, were engaged in heavy fighting to prevent the town's fall.
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