2nd LD-Writethru: Syrian army wrests control of strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway

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DAMASCUS, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- For the first time since 2012, the Syrian army wrested control of the strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway following battles against the rebel groups, a war monitor reported on Tuesday.

The Syrian government forces completely captured the Damascus-Aleppo highway after weeks of battles in the countryside of Idlib and Aleppo provinces to retake the stretch of the highway passing through Idlib and southern Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The highway links Aleppo, the economic capital of Syria, with the political capital of Damascus and areas in southern Syria.

The Syrian government, backed by its ally Russia, has kept up a military offensive in Idlib province and the southern Aleppo countryside over the past two months, aiming at securing the Damascus-Aleppo highway that runs along the rebel-controlled territory.

The 432-km Aleppo-Damascus highway contains two sections -- the first between Damascus and Hama province in central Syria; the second between Hama and Aleppo.

The Hama-Aleppo section of the highway was under the control of the rebels, mainly those affiliated with the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

During the crisis, travelers used a sub-route as an alternative way to Aleppo, which was around 150 km longer. Accidents were frequently reported on the sub-route which is narrow near Aleppo.

The road has strategic importance for the flow of all necessary items between Damascus and Aleppo. Enditem

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