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Syria rebels overtake strategic base in south

Syrian insurgents including fighters from al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, seized an important government army base in the southwestern Deraa province on Sunday, fighters who took part in the battle said. The base, one of several used to pound rebel-held villages and towns in southern Syria and along the frontier with Jordan, lies at the heart of a heavily fortified zone which has formed a southern line of defence protecting the capital, Damascus. The fighters said hundreds of insurgents armed with rocket launchers and anti-aircraft weapons had taken over the Brigade 82 base near the town of Sheikh Maskeen, close to the main north-south highway between Damascus and Jordan. “This advance will help us cut supply routes of the regime forces in the south from their supplies in the north to be able to eventually take over Deraa city,” Colonel Saber Safar, a leader of the First Army, a major faction of Western-backed rebels in the “Southern Front” grouping, told Reuters by phone.

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