DAMASCUS, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army continues to advance in a strategic city in the southern province of Daraa, as part of the wide-scale offensive the government forces backed by allied troops have recently been achieving on several fronts.
A military source told Xinhua on Monday that the military forces stormed the key city of Sheikh Miskeen in the country's southern province of Daraa, capturing many buildings in the central part of the city while dealing heavy blows to an array of jihadist groups there.
Amid the ongoing intense battles, many militants started withdrawing toward nearby rebel-held towns, mainly Ibta' and Nawa, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The 15th Brigade of the 5th Armored Division of the Syrian army backed by the National Defense Forces (NDF), a pro-government paramilitary force, as well as the 7th Mechanized Division are leading the offensive against Sheikh Miskeen amid confirmations from military sources on ground that the city could be considered fallen.
Backed by the Russian air cover, the army forces unleashed a wide-scale offensive against the city on Sunday, heavily striking the positions of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) in that important city.
What made things worse for the rebels in the city is the battles between the rival groups of Al-Muthanna Movement and the Al-Yarmouk Army rebels, which are fighting along the main road to Sheikh Miskeen, which has hindered supplies from reaching other militants fighting inside the city against the Syrian army.
The contested city, which has seen previous battles between the rebels and the Syrian army, constitutes a supply line for the rebels who are operating in Daraa, the birthplace of Syria's nearly five-year old conflict.
Being a hub between rebel-held towns in Daraa, controlling the city will enable the Syrian army to separate rebel-held towns in Daraa's northern countryside, and will secure main road connecting the southern provinces of Daraa, Swaida and Qunaitera.
Capturing the city will also secure the international road connecting the capital Damascus with Daraa. The road is the main supply line for the Syrian troops in Daraa.
In December of last year, the Syrian army captured parts of the city before unleashing an offensive for its full recapture this week.
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