The Syrian government and opposition activists say pro-government forces have managed to retake a key southern military base after heavy fighting with rebels and an al-Qaida affiliate.

They said Tuesday that the base of Brigade 82 in the town of Sheikh al-Maskeen in Deraa province has fallen, and that the northern part of the town is also now in government hands.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighting began a day earlier and that among the rebels were fighters from al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, as well as other Islamic factions.

State news agency SANA said the army inflicted heavy losses on the militants, but did not give a death toll, while the Observatory said 40 were killed from both sides.