Syrian government forces, Lebanese Hezbollah capture several villages south of Damascus

February 11, 2015 4:32 PM

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BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters swept south of the capital Damascus on Wednesday, seizing strategic hills and villages from rebels and a local al-Qaida affiliate near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

State media and opposition activists said the surprise counteroffensive is aimed at forcing back rebels who had recently advanced closer to embattled President Bashar Assad's seat of power.

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