Syrian forces regained control over a strategic suburb of the capital on Thursday as rebels under heavy bombardment said they were forced to withdraw.

The fall of Mleiha, the Damascus suburb that the rebels had controlled for nearly two years, is a major setback for the beleaguered opposition, which has seen its hold over much of the country weaken over the past year.

With Mleiha in government hands, other rebel strongholds in the Ghouta Sharqia area east of the capital are even more vulnerable to advances by military forces.

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