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Fighting between militants, government forces kills dozens in southern Syria, activists say

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BEIRUT — Fierce clashes between Syrian government forces and opposition fighters in the country's south killed dozens on both sides over the past two days as rebel factions regained much of the ground they lost earlier, activists said Tuesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting, which began Monday in the southern province of Daraa, killed 37 rebels as well as 22 government troops. On Tuesday, the Syrian air force struck several areas in Daraa province, the Observatory said.

The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group that tracks the Syrian civil war, said the violence in Daraa left at least 27 people dead on Monday alone.

Opposition fighters and members of Syria's al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front have made major gains in southern Syria in recent weeks, capturing large swaths of territory and a border crossing point with Jordan.

On Monday, the Syrian army said government troops captured several villages in Daraa and cut a major supply line to Jordan for opposition fighters.

On Tuesday, Daraa-based activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh and the Observatory said that a counteroffensive by opposition fighters has clawed back most of the territory lost the previous day. He also said the rebels were able to capture several soldiers and pro-government gunmen.

Syria's civil war, now in its fifth year, has killed more than 220,000 people.

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