Syrian government forces say they have regained control of many villages in the south of country that had been in rebel hands. Mana Rabiee reports.
Habbariah village in southern Syria. Government forces say they've regained control of this and many other villages in the south - wresting them back from rebel hands. A general made the announcement on state television, saying a large number of Nusra Front fighters were killed and their weapons destroyed. The gains were said to happen on Friday and Saturday in a large offensive backed by the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah. The offensive aims to shield the capital Damascus -- just a short drive to the north -- and it marks a new push in the government's campaign against the rebels. The south is the last notable foothold of the mainstream, non-militant opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Rival Islamic State militants control much of the north and east of the country. Assad has consolidated control over much of western Syria after almost four years of civil war that's left some 200,000 people dead.