DAMASCUS, April 14 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army on Monday wrested back control over three towns in the rugged al-Qalamoun region north of the capital Damascus, the state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian troops restored security and stability to the towns of Maaloula, al-Sarkha and al-Jubbeh in al-Qalamoun and the surrounding hills after eliminating large numbers of "terrorists", SANA said, adding that the recent victory constitutes a "decisive stage" in eliminating the remaining pockets of the opposition militant groups in al-Qalamoun and the countryside of Damascus.
Recently, the Syrian troops have recaptured several villages and towns in southern and central Syria, cutting off main supply routes for rebels from neighboring Lebanon. They have also tightened the noose around armed groups in the countryside of Damascus and blocked several attempts to storm the capital.
Monday's victory is of great significance, especially in Maaloula, some 55 km north of Damascus, as the town was crucial for the rebels who hope to tighten their grip on areas surrounding Damascus.
The recapture of Maaloula would help government troops secure the international road that connects Damascus with central and northern provinces.
Maaloula, a place where Western Aramaic is still spoken, holds its significance as it's deemed as one of the oldest cradles of Christianity in Syria.