Activists: Syrian government forces attempt to seize opposition area

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Syrian soldiers are seen on the Damascus-Aleppo highway near the administrative border of Aleppo province, Syria, on Feb. 12, 2020. For the first time since 2012, the Syrian army wrested control of the strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway following battles against the rebel groups, a war monitor reported on Tuesday. (Str/Xinhua)

Syrian government forces supported by heavy shelling on Thursday attempted to storm an area controlled by opposition forces in the southern part of the war-torn country, activists and a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said heavy clashes were ongoing in Daraa al-Balad following the government forces’ attack.

The British-based watchdog added that opposition forces managed to take control of three government military checkpoints in the eastern and the western countryside of Daraa.

At least eight members from government troops and allied paramilitaries were killed in the clashes, while two civilians were killed due to the government forces shelling on Daraa al-Balad, according to the observatory.

Since June 24, government forces have imposed a siege on Daraa al-Balad.

The siege aims to force the opposition controlling the area to surrender their weapons and push them to accept the installation of government military checkpoints there, activists said.

They added that a truce agreement, reached in July 2018 between the Syrian government and allied Russia on the one hand, and the opposition factions in Daraa and its countryside on the other, stipulates that the opposition fighters give up their heavy weapons and keep their medium and light weapons.

Daraa was the cradle of an uprising that erupted against the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011.

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