Syrian soldiers arrive to Syria's Quneitra border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, Thursday, July 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Syrian government holds celebrations after town falls

July 27, 2018 - 6:14 am

QUNEITRA, Syria (AP) — The Syrian government has held celebrations in the southern town of Quneitra adjacent to Israeli-occupied Golan Heights after recapturing it from armed groups who controlled it for more than four years.

On Friday, an Associated Press reporter visited the town on a government-organized trip a day after troops captured Quneitra in an offensive in southwestern Syria that has seen the opposition crumble. Lawmakers and officials arrived in the empty town, celebrating the return of government authority.

The highly symbolic town has been abandoned since Israel destroyed it as it withdrew in 1974 following the Mideast war.

The Syrian government left the destruction as a reminder of the war despite a cease-fire with Israel that largely held. In the Syrian civil war, Quneitra was seized by armed group in 2014.

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