Tamil Diplomat

Syrian forces backed by Russian jets clash with rebels

The Syrian army backed by Russian warplanes engaged in fierce fighting with rebels close to the border with Jordan, residents and opposition fighters said.

The clashes on Wednesday – which involved Russian air strikes on Western-backed rebel groups – came as the Syrian government attempts to capture Sheikh Maskin, an area crucial to its attempts at gaining control of southern Deraa province.

The Syrian offensive was the first by the government in southern Syria since Russian forces entered the war in support of President Bashar al-Assad in September.