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Forces fight for strategic Syrian gateway to south

The Syrian opposition incurred heavy losses during a recent regime attack on the key city of al-Shaykh Maskin, but it is already regaining ground as power quickly shifts from one side to the other.
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DAMASCUS, Syria — Syrian regime and opposition forces are waging a fierce battle over al-Shaykh Maskin in southern Syria, a city critical to control of the old road between Damascus and Daraa and other essential supply and access routes.

Opposition forces and Jabhat al-Nusra had controlled the area for a year when the Syrian army launched an attack Nov. 14, supported by the Russian air force and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters. The army regained control of the Brigade 82 base near al-Shaykh Maskin and of Tel al-Hash in the city’s northwest. Taking control of the Brigade 82 base paved the way for the regime to advance toward the northeastern district of al-Shaykh Maskin, but since then, the momentum has swung back and forth between the two sides.

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