Syria’s army said it pushed rebels out of the southern town of Qara on Tuesday, strengthening its hold on a highway linking the capital to government strongholds along the Mediterranean coast.

There was no immediate comment from insurgents on the assault by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, which began on Friday. But regional news channel Al Mayadeen broadcast images of Syrian soldiers walking in Qara’s empty streets.

The town sits on the strategic route 80 km (50 miles) north of Damascus in the Qalamoun mountains.  […]