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Damascus, Sep 12 (IANS) Syrian troops fully recaptured a strategic town in the central province of Hama after intense battles with the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, media reported Friday.
The troops backed by the National Defence Forces, a pro-government militia, wrested back control over the town of Halfaya and its surroundings in the northern countryside of Hama on Friday after eliminating large numbers of “terrorists”, the state-run SANA news agency reported citing a Syrian military general command statement.
“This achievement comes as a result of the direct and focused hits the Syrian troops had dealt to the armed militants which led to their defeat and successive collapse,” the statement said.
It added that large numbers of non-Syrian fighters were killed in the battle as well.
Meanwhile, a military officer told Xinhua that the Syrian troops were currently combing the town and dismantling explosives the rebels had left behind, adding that the Syrian troops are working to speed up the return of the families to their town.
Taleb Ibrahim, a military and political expert, said the Nusra fighters have lost in the central region in Syria “for good” after losing Halfaya, deeming the military’s recapture of the town as “very important both morally and militarily”.
He said the road was now open for the Syrian troops to advance toward the rebel-held towns of Morek and Wadi al-Dayef all the way to the southern province of Aleppo.
The town of Halfaya was deemed the main stronghold of the Nusra Front in central Syria and the army’s recapture of the town is crucial given the importance of the town’s location in the central region. The recapture of Halfaya also enables the Syrian troops to cut the supply lines of the rebels in the countryside of Hama.
According to the UN, the conflict in Syria has led to more than 190,000 deaths. Three million people have fled to neighbouring countries in search of refuge, while 6.5 million more people have been displaced inside their conflict-ridden homeland.