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After taking E. Ghouta, Assad forces set sights on Homs

AFTER TAKING E. GHOUTA, ASSAD FORCES SET SIGHTS ON HOMS

Syria's Assad regime and its allies have launched fresh operations to capture opposition-held parts of the northern Homs province, Anadolu Agency correspondents based in the area reported on Tuesday.

After gaining full control of Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of capital Damascus, the regime and its allies now appear to have set their sights on opposition-held parts of Homs and additional territories in central Syria.

According to information obtained from Anadolu Agency reporters in Homs, within the past three days, regime forces have managed to capture the villages of Wadi al-Hubbiya, Wadi al-Qurbat, Ard al- Jassiya, Ard Kabir al-Sheyha, Zahrat Jebabi and Zahrat Jassiya.

During the course of the regime's ground operations, the Teblise and Rastan districts of Homs, Deir Ful, Camp Malluk, Musrefiya, Zarafani and Tirmala -- all of which are home to large civilian populations -- were targeted by regime warplanes, rockets and gunfire.

Local sources say the regime's main objective is to secure the Salamiya highway linking Aleppo to northern Homs, after which it hopes to seize a 600-square-kilometer area currently held by the opposition.

For the last five years, roughly 200,000 people have remained under siege in northern Homs.

The regime recently managed to seize Eastern Ghouta -- one of the opposition's last strongholds on the capital's outskirts -- following sustained attacks and a five-year blockade.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011 when the regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

According to UN officials, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict while millions more have been forced to flee their homes.

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