Syrian military forces have reopened a key road linking the central heartland with the embattled northern province of Aleppo, following heavy clashes with foreign-backed militants.
They took control of the road on Sunday night after engaging in a fierce battle with the militants. The route had been closed since August because of heavy fighting in the area.
The development comes a week after army troops captured the strategic town of Khanaser near the road and flushed out insurgents in several surrounding villages.
Following the liberation of the road, the Syrian troops have managed to break the siege which prevented supplies from reaching the provincial capital of Aleppo.
Since mid 2012, the government forces have been fighting with the foreign-backed militants to take control of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and the country’s former commercial hub.
On Monday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow and Washington have agreed to push for holding the planned Geneva II conference on the Syria crisis in mid-November.
In May, Russia and the US agreed to convene an international conference on Syria, which will serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has expressed readiness to take part in the Geneva II conference, stressing that he will not negotiate with terrorists.
Syria’s foreign-backed opposition coalition remains divided over taking part in the second round of Geneva talks. They have repeatedly expressed reluctance to take part in the conference unless Assad steps down.
Syria has been gripped by deadly turmoil since 2011. According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the violence.
Reports indicate that the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside the country.