President Bashar al Assad’s army, along with its allies the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, launched a joined assault on the border Syrian city of Zabadani on Saturday - currently controlled by opposition fighters - Hezbollah’s al Manar television station reported.
Heavy artillery and aerial bombardment were deployed by the joined forces to recapture the city of Zabadani, north-west of the Syrian capital near the Lebanese border, Al Manar TV further stated.
Footage released on al Manar TV and Syrian state TV showed large mountains of smoke and fire rising from the city and the sounds of bombardment and shelling from heavy artillery could be heard.
The city of Zabadani, over which Assad forces have long sought to gain control, is located near the Beirut-Damascus highway that connects both countries. Capturing it would be a major boost for Assad’s withering government.
Zabadani, once a popular resort city, was part of a major supply route for weapons that were sent from Syria to Hezbollah militants before the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011 .
In recent months, Hezbollah militants have increased their assaults on opposition outposts along the Qalamoun mountains region sprawling along the Lebanese-Syrian border.
A Syrian army source has been quoted by Reuters as saying its forces were "making headway on several fronts" and tightening a siege on Zabadani.
In addition, the army has killed a number of opposition forces defending the city and is advancing on several fronts.
The army announced that it has captured Qalat al Tel, a hilltop west of Zabadani that serves as an easy outlook to opposition fighters positions.
Opposition fighters say that they have planted mines around the almost deserted city and are well prepared to repel the attack.
The aim of this operation is to cut the supply routes of opposition fighters along the border.
The Syrian army is also fighting with opposition forces around the city of Daraa south of Syria, and in Aleppo, north of Syria.
Since 2011 a brutal civil war has pitted regime troops against opposition forces in Syria.
So far, the Syrian civil war has resulted in the death of more than 220,000 people and displaced almost half of the country's population according to UN estimates.
Turkey, which hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, provides refuge for an estimated 1.8 million Syrian refugees - including around 200,000 from Kobane - more than any of Syria’s other neighbours.
More than 6.7 million people have fled Syria, while millions of others have been displaced internally.