Syrian government closes in on city of Daraa

BEIRUT - The Syrian Army on Friday retook a strategic town on the doorstep of Daraa, a contested southern city that lies between Damascus and the Jordan border, according to activists and the Syrian state news agency.

See Full Article

The conquest of the town of Atman opens up several supply routes to Daraa, which is divided between government and opposition fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists inside the country, said government troops and allied militias advanced under cover of airstrikes and heavy artillery bombardment.

The state-run SANA agency also reported the victory, saying government forces in Atman scattered the "terrorists" - a term that President Bashar Assad's government uses to refer to all rebels.

Daraa was the scene of some of the first protests against Assad in 2011 and holds symbolic value in the narrative of the uprising that has since collapsed into a vicious civil war.

The government victory near Dara come as a second government offensive closed in on the northern city of Aleppo, touching off a mass internal exodus of residents fleeing toward the Turkish border for safety.

Assad's troops launched a major offensive against Aleppo, Syria's largest city, even as opposition and government representatives were in Geneva for United Nations-sponsored peace talks. Opposition activists reported more than 500 targets hit by Syrian and Russian planes in one of the most intensive air campaigns since Moscow's intervention began late last year. Activists said troops were getting nearer to their goal of completely encircling the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo and cutting it off from supply lines to Turkey.

The international aid group Mercy Corps said Thursday that intensified airstrikes and fighting around Aleppo had cut off the main humanitarian route into the Syrian city, and that tens of thousands of civilians were fleeing north toward the border with Turkey.

David Evans, Mercy Corps' regional program director for the Middle East, said in a statement Thursday that "it feels like a siege of Aleppo is about to begin."

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday that some 10,000 Syrians who fled the Aleppo area were waiting at the Turkish border, seeking refuge.

Speaking at the international donors conference in London, Davutoglu said up to 70,000 others who had been sheltering in camps north of Aleppo were also moving toward the Turkish border.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Ottawa to start bringing Yazidi refugees within 120 days: McCallum

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - Immigration Minister John McCallum says the Liberal government is prepared to start bringing Yazidi refugees into the country within four months. He says the Liberals will support a Conservative motion calling for more support for the Yazidis, who have been singled out for particularly brutal treatment by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Source
  • Montreal Symphony Orchestra acquires a rare octobass

    Canada News CTV News
    The newest member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s ensemble has a sound so gruff and guttural it will turn your knees to jelly. Like an acoustic subwoofer, the octobass is the largest three-stringed instrument in the world and is 90 per cent larger than a double bass. Source
  • UN wants $200 million to compensate Haiti cholera victims

    World News CTV News
    The United Nations says it is looking to raise $200 million from member states to compensate the families of people who have died from cholera in Haiti. David Nabarro, a special adviser to the secretary-general, said Monday that the money to "provide material assistance" was part of a new U.N. Source
  • California man gets 1,503 years in prison for raping daughter

    World News Toronto Sun
    A California man got 1,503 years in prison for raping his 12-year-old daughter - the longest in the history of Fresno - according to reports. According to the Fresno Bee, Rene Lopez, 41, was handed the unprecedented sentence after rejecting two plea deals; one would have been a 13-year prison term, the other 22-years behind bars - if Lopez admitted he was guilty of the rape. Source
  • Police issue 99 trespass citations during pipeline protest on Parliament Hill

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The Liberal government's conflicting climate and pipeline policies were thrown into sharp relief Monday as more than 200 protesters marched on Parliament Hill demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reject any new oilsands infrastructure. Source
  • Did Subway ignore warnings about perv pitchman Fogle?

    World News Toronto Sun
    Perverted Subway shill Jared Fogle’s ex-wife claims the fast food giant knew the former fatty had a penchant for kids. Katie McLaughlin -- who launched the lawsuit -- claims the chain “failed every test of corporate responsibility” until Fogle was pinched. Source
  • Judges in Medicine Hat custody case ordered boy not to wear girls clothes in public

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — A sexual minorities expert says judges need to be better educated about gender identity after two Alberta family court judges ruled that a child born a boy couldn’t wear girls clothes in public. Source
  • Quebec man facing deportation 20 years after crime gets two-year stay

    Canada News CTV News
    LAVAL, Que. -- The lawyer for a longtime Quebec resident facing deportation to his native Italy says Ottawa has granted his client a two-year stay. Michele Torre had been given a new deportation order for Wednesday based on a 20-year-old criminal conviction. Source
  • English killer took selfie after robbing man of rare 'Wind in the Willows' book

    World News Toronto Sun
    A man in England who took a selfie moments after he stabbed and robbed the owner of a historical novel worth about $81,000 was sentenced to life in jail for the crime. According to the New York Post, Michael Danaher, 50, murdered Adrian Greenwood, 42, by stabbing him 33 times, and then made off with a rare copy of The Wind In the Willows by Kenneth Grahame published in 1908. Source
  • Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger won't vote for Trump

    World News Toronto Sun
    Arnold Schwarzenegger would have run for president this year if he could have. “If I’d been born in America, I would’ve run,” Schwarzenegger recently told Adweek, noting that if he could cast a presidential ballot for himself, he’d be doing that on November 8. Source