DAMASCUS, Aug 1 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday expressed confidence in defeating the armed rebels as the army reportedly made new advances in the past 24 hours.
Assad made the remarks in a letter to the army marking its 68th anniversary, which read "if we weren't confident of victory, we wouldn't have been able to carry on after more than two years of aggression."
He said the army showed unprecedented heroism in facing the " fiercest and most barbaric war in modern history."
The Syrian army is fighting intense battles with the Western- backed rebels on several fronts across the country, mainly in the northern province of Aleppo as well as the southern and central part of the country.
The rebels want to make some territorial gains ahead of the Geneva peace conference as their bargaining chips for possible negotiations with the government. But the army is fighting to strip them of their positions in Homs province and the countryside of the capital Damascus ahead of the planned yet delayed talks.
Pro-government Sham FM radio said Thursday that the army dislodged the rebels from al-Matahen area near the main road leading to the International Airport of Damascus.
Earlier this week, the rebels were also routed from one of their main strongholds in the Homs province, the al-Khalidieh district, which had been regarded by them as the capital of their "revolution."
Meanwhile, Lebanese Top News network said Thursday that the army has launched an operation to retrieve the northern town of Khan al-Assal, which was overran by the rebels earlier this week and where more than 123 soldiers were executed by al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
According to a UN report, more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's 28-month-old crisis and about 1.7 million have been forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries.
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Syrian army strips rebels of "revolution capital"
DAMASCUS, July 31 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army took 20 days of fighting to strip the western-backed rebels of a strategic central district regarded by the rebels as the capital of their revolution against the administration of President Bashar al-Assad.
During a trip of Xinhua reporters to the focal point of al- Khalidieh district in the central province of Homs, the reporters had the chance to walk through the rubble-strewn streets of the hard-battered district. Not a single building was standing still. Full story