DAMASCUS, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian troops continued their large-scale offensive against the rebels in the north of the capital Damascus, recapturing key positions in the town of Qara, the pro-government al-Watan daily reported Monday.
Quoting a military source, the paper said the army unites continued their military operations against the rebels' strongholds in the al-Qalamoun Mountain, which is adjacent to the border with Lebanon, in Qara.
The battle in Qara would end sooner than expected, the paper said a day after the troops fully besieged the key town.
The recent battles in Qara have resulted in the killing of tens of rebels as the army has become ready to tighten its grip on the town and advance deeper into al-Qalamoun Mountains, the report said.
The al-Qalamoun constitutes a key base for the rebels, as the area is the northern entrance of Damascus.
For the government troops, controlling the area is important to secure the Damascus-Homs international road and a number of Syrian military bases nearby.
The military operation in the northern rim of Damascus came along a series of operations in the southern and eastern countryside of Damascus as part of the military tactic to dislodge the rebels from key areas of Damascus, Homs and the northern province of Aleppo.
The al-Watan paper also said on Monday that the Syrian army fully wrested back control over an area east of the al-Nairab military base in Aleppo.
Also in Aleppo, activists groups announced online the death of the leader of rebels' al-Tawhid Brigade after sustaining injuries in recent battles in Aleppo.
Abdul-Qader Saleh was transferred to Turkish hospitals but died later, the reports said.
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