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Syrian troops capture famed Crusader castle

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian troops captured a famed Crusader castle near the border with Lebanon on Thursday, running the two-starred government flag high above the stone ramparts of the 12th century fortress after days of intense clashes with rebel fighters.

Lebanese private broadcaster Al-Mayadeen TV aired footage of Syrian soldiers walking unopposed into the Crac des Chevaliers, the towering hilltop citadel that rebels had controlled since 2012. The loud crackle of celebratory gunfire could be heard as troops explored the sprawling castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The military's push into the citadel marked the latest in a string of battlefield gains for President Bashar Assad's forces. Government troops have seized at least four towns and villages in the past two weeks near the border with Lebanon as the army tries to sever opposition supply lines across the mountainous frontier.

Syria delivers chemical weapons for disposal: Syria delivered another consignment of deadly chemical weapons to the port of Latakia on Thursday, the third delivery in a week to be shipped abroad for destruction and further evidence it has stepped up the pace of shipments after coming under international pressure over earlier delays.

Syria now has delivered half of its total stockpile and more than a third of its deadliest Priority 1 agents, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international agency overseeing the program.

Information from New York Times was used in this report.

Syrian troops capture famed Crusader castle 03/20/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2014 9:37pm]
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