Middle East

Syrian troops capture central town after heavy clashes

Syrian state media and an opposition monitoring group say government forces have captured a central town and adjacent villages, boosting security in nearby areas loyal to President Bashar Assad.

The SANA state news agency quoted an unnamed military official as saying Sunday that troops and pro-government fighters captured Halfaya and nearby villages after days of intense clashes.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says insurgents, including members of the al-Qaida-linked Fatah al-Sham Front, withdrew from Halfaya and nearby villages as a result of the intensity of the ground attack and scores of airstrikes.

Saturday's capture of Halfaya and nearby areas came after government forces captured the nearby town of Taybet al-Imam on April 17.

Assad's forces lost Halfaya in the summer of 2016.