The Syrian regime said on Sunday its forces have recaptured all the towns and villages in the Wadi Barada valley near Damascus. The recent loss is another blow to rebels who have fought for years to unseat regime leader Bashar al-Assad.
The recapture of Wadi Barada signals the fall of another rebel-held area in western Syria, and comes weeks after they were driven from areas they controlled in Aleppo, their last major urban stronghold.
"Units of our armed forces, together with ... allied forces have achieved their mission in returning security and stability to the area,” a regime spokesperson said on TV.
TRT World ’s Shamim Chowdhury has more on the fall of Wadi Barada to regime forces.
Saudi king and Trump agree to support Syria safe zones
Saudi Arabia's King Salman, in a telephone call on Sunday with US President Donald Trump, agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, the White House said.
Trump, during his presidential campaign last year, had called for Gulf states to pay for establishing safe zones to protect Syrian refugees.
"The president requested, and the King agreed, to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts," the White House said.
The Saudi Press Agency later confirmed the report.
The Turkish government had long pressed former president Barack Obama for the creation of a no-fly zone in Syria on its border with Turkey.
Creation of safe zones would mark a significant departure from Obama's approach.
Ongoing Turkish operations in northern Syria
The Turkish military said one soldier was killed on Sunday in clashes with Daesh near the town of al-Ghuz in northern Syria.
Al-Ghuz is a small town close to al-Bab (which means 'the door' in Arabic), a strategic city for Daesh. The Turkish army is supporting Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in their battle to liberate the city from Daesh, as part of its Operation Euphrates Shield to secure Turkey's border with Syria.
The Turkish military on Monday said it had "neutralised" (killed, captured, or wounded) 20 Daesh members in northern Syria in the previous 24 hours, in air and ground operations.