Ground fighting rages on in Syrian rebel held border bastion

Syrian regime forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militias enter rebel held border bastion of Zabadani city

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Syrian state news agency, SANA, reported on Sunday that Syrian regime forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militias have entered Zabadani city in Rif Dimashq province, the last rebel-held bastion in the Qalamoun region on the Lebanese border.

The Britain based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed that regime forces and Hezbollah have entered Zabadani, adding that army helicopters have dropped at least 22 barrel bombs on the town since Sunday morning.

At least 14 regime soldiers and Hezbollah fighters have been killed in the fighting for the town over the past 24 hours, along with at least 12 rebels, the SOHR reported.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar television station also confirmed the advance of Hezbollah militias in Zabadani.

"Heroic army forces in cooperation with the Lebanese resistance took control of the Al-Jamaiyat neighbourhood in western Zabadani and the Al-Sultana neighbourhood in the east of the city," state television said in a breaking news statement.

"Operations are continuing with dozens of terrorists killed and wounded," it added.

Footage of Hezbollah fighters and Syrian soldiers entering what was said to be Zabadani town was aired by Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.

Zabadani, 20 kilometres north of Syria’s capital Damascus, was captured by rebels in early 2012 and was once a bastion for the rebels. It has been besieged for more than one year by regime forces.

Regime forces backed by Hezbollah militias began a major campaign to take back the region in late 2013. In April 2014 the campaign gained momentum and regime forces were able to capture the ancient Christian town of Maalula.

On Saturday Syrian state media announced  the start of of an operation to retake the town.

The Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah is a prominent ally of the Syrian regime and has sent fighters to support regime forces against an uprising that began in March 2011 and descended to a civil war which has caused the deaths of 230,000 Syrians.

TRTWorld and agencies