Insurgents seize strategic city in southwest Syria from army

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian insurgents including fighters from Nusra Front, a wing of al Qaeda, seized a key city and other areas of Syria's southwestern Deraa province on Sunday after five days of fierce battles, fighters in the area told Reuters.

A source close to government forces confirmed the advance and said the army had pulled out of Nawa city.

The capture of Nawa and surrounding areas will help the insurgents consolidate control of territory stretching to near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

"Some of the (government) soldiers escaped at night, the rest escaped today," one insurgent who declined to be named told Reuters. "They left their heavy weapons and their military vehicles behind."

The insurgents also seized the surrounding areas of Sheikh al-Maskin, Tal Hauran and a military headquarters known as the 122 Brigade in the major offensive, the sources said.

(Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Andrew Roche)