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Syrian forces, allies advance against militants in area near Israel

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Syrian forces, allies advance against militants in area near Israel
 Syrian army troops and their allies have made significant territorial gains in the last militant-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon.
Militant sources said the Syrian forces, backed by heavy airstrikes and artillery shelling, advanced east and south of the militant-held stronghold of Beit Jin since a major operation began over two months ago to capture the area.
The Syrian military said it had surrounded the village of Mughr al-Meer at the foothills of Mount Hermon as forces moved towards Beit Jin amid fierce clashes.
The enclave is the last militant stronghold left southwest of Damascus known as the Western Ghouta that had been captured by government forces last year.
The foreign-backed Takfiri militants still have a presence in central and southern Quneitra, in Syria's Golan Heights.
The advance will apparently thwart Israeli attempts to invade Syria after the Israeli military threatened back in November to launch an incursion into Syria “to protect” the people of a village populated by the Arab country’s Druze minority, who are themselves supportive of the Syrian government.
The Hader village is situated in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights, and its population is aligned with the Syrian government, casting doubts about Israel’s real motives in possibly launching an incursion into the Syrian territory.
People in the occupied parts of Syria’s Golan Heights themselves held a protest to condemn what they called Israel’s support for anti-Damascus terrorists. The demonstrators accused Israel of backing al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, previously known as al-Nusra Front, during its fatal assault on Hader in the countryside of Quneitra on November 3. AP