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Syrian rebels take major checkpoint

BEIRUT — Rebels captured a major army post on Friday in the southern city of Daraa after nearly two weeks of intense fighting, as battles raged between troops and opposition forces in the province that borders Jordan, activists said.

Daraa, the provincial capital of a region that carries the same name, is the birthplace of the uprising against President Bashar Assad that started 27 months ago. Rebels hope to one day launch an offensive from the area to take the capital, Damascus.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists around the country, said Islamic militants led by members of the Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, captured the checkpoint after a two-week siege.

It said rebels blew up a car bomb Thursday, killing and wounding a number of soldiers, and then stormed the post, made up of two of the highest buildings in the city.

‘‘This post is very important because it overlooks old Daraa,’’ said Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads The Observatory. He added that the capture opens the way for rebels to take the southern neighborhood of Manshiyeh that is close to the Jordanian border.

An amateur video posted by activists showed rebels blowing up one of the two buildings after putting explosives inside it. Another video showed four militants carrying Nusra Front black flag standing in front of the building saying it will be blown up, apparently to prevent the regime from using it in case its forces capture it again. The videos appeared genuine and were consistent with other AP reporting of the events.

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