Ongoing clashes between the Hezbollah-backed Syrian army and terrorist groups in southern Syria have left dozens dead on both sides over the past week, a monitoring group says.
More than 40 members of the Syrian army and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and over 50 militants have been killed since operations were launched in southern Syria last week, the UK-based so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
The Syrian army has launched large-scale maneuvers against al-Qaeda’s Syria wing, the al-Nusra Front, and other foreign-backed militants.
Around 5,000 pro-government troops are taking part in the offensive, which focuses on a triangle of militant-held land from rural areas southwest of the capital, Damascus, to Dara’a city to Quneitra city.
Winter weather in the past few days, however, has prevented the army from conducting airstrikes against the militants. The army and allied groups plan to involve 10,000 fighters in the offensive, said Rami Abdulrahman, head of the monitoring group.
“Now the weather is better there will be Syrian airstrikes. With the airstrikes they will move forward,” Abdulrahman added.
In recent months, the Syrian army has reclaimed some territory that was under the control of terrorist groups.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, according to reports. New figures show that over 76,000 people, including thousands of children, lost their lives in Syria last year.
Over 7.2 million Syrians have also become internally displaced due to the ongoing crisis, according to the UN.