DAMASCUS, April 9 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian troops on Wednesday regained full control over a rebel-held town northwest of the capital Damascus, the official SANA news agency reported.
"The troops completed their military operation in Rankous and restored security and stability to the town after eliminating large numbers of terrorists," said SANA.
Earlier this week, the Syrian troops pressed an offensive to dislodge the rebels from Rankous, a town in the rugged al-Qalamoun region, about 45 km northwest of Damascus.
The army has unleashed the offensive to recapture Rankous after succeeding recently to wrest back control over a string of towns of the al-Qalamoun region, which is adjacent to the Lebanese borders, and have also continued their offensive against the rebel- held area of Mlaiha, east of Damascus.
Meanwhile, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV said the troops are currently dismantling roadside bombs in Rankous, adding that intense battles are ongoing in the nearby hills.
Citing opposition sources, the TV said more than 140 rebels were killed in the battles of Rankous, adding that the rebels have retreated toward the town of Zabadani in al-Qalamoun.
A day earlier, the rebels in al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front announced that one of its commanders was killed in Rankous, identifying him as Abu Talha al-Baghdadi, who is an Iraqi fighter.
Recently, the Syrian troops have recaptured several villages and towns in central Syria, cutting off main supply routes for rebels from neighboring Lebanon, and also tightened the noose around armed groups in the countryside of Damascus and blocked several attempts to storm the capital.
The army's offensive and its tightened besiege on some hotspots prompted the rebels to intensify their mortar attacks against safe areas in Damascus, presumably to shift the government's attention and alleviate pressure on tense areas.
More than 150,000 people were killed and millions displaced in Syria since the conflict between the Syrian army and armed rebels started in the year of 2011.