Hezbollah and the Syrian Army entered Zabadani on Sunday, the last stronghold of the Takfiri militants on the border area with Lebanon. Today they have made fresh advances in their offensive into the border town, encircling the militants deep into the city.
They closed in on Syrian rebel factions Monday in central Zabadani as they advanced to take control of the last rebel-held town in the Qalamoun region near the Lebanese border.
Zabadani has been held by rebels since shortly after Syria’s crisis began in March 2011. The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 220,000 people and wounded at least a million.
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Press TV report:
Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV reported Monday that fighters of the group, backed by Syrian troops, are advancing into central parts of Zabadani to purge the militants from the last positions they held inside the city.
The report said the allied forces have already seized control of residential areas in the al-Sultani district south of Zabadani while they are progressing to control the Al-Huda Mosque neighborhood.
Lebanese sources said Hezbollah fighters are closing in on militants trapped in central Zabadani, pouring fire on them from every side.
Militants suffered heavy casualties in clashes that erupted Sunday in various parts of Zabadani. Fighting also raged overnight Monday when Syrian fighter jets pounded the positions of militants in Al-Jamaiyat neighborhood, west of the city.
At least four Hezbollah fighters and several Syrian troops have reportedly been killed in the battle on Zabadani, a strategic border town located 50 kilometers northwest of the Syrian capital, Damascus.
The offensive is part of a wider operation launched by Syria and Hezbollah since May 4, which has reportedly driven militants out of more than 90 percent of the territory previously controlled by them in mountainous Qalamoun region.
The highly strategic area, which straddles the Lebanese-Syrian border, was previously used by the al-Nusra Front militants for transferring weapons and ammunition into Syria, where they have been involved in terrorist activities.