Syrian troops and fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah group seized several towns and villages south of Damascus on Wednesday, state media and activists said, advancing in a region bordering the Israeli Golan Heights.

The government counteroffensive aims at recapturing areas seized by Syrian rebels and the Al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, whose recent advances had brought them closer to embattled President Bashar Assad’s seat of power.

The government late last year lost large parts of the Quneitra region on the edge of the Golan. State television said troops gained control of the town of Deir al-Adas and the village of Deir Maker, as well as the nearby areas of Tal al-Arous and Tal al-Sarjeh. […]