Syrian regime advances on last rebel-held town in Qalamoun

Syrian regime advances on last rebel-held town in Qalamoun
Syrian regime forces and Hizballah launched a major offensive on the border town of Zabadani, which overlooks strategic Beirut-Damascus motorway.
2 min read
06 July, 2015
Hizballah fighters have become increasingly involved in the war in Syria (Getty)
Heavy clashes erupted on Sunday as Syrian regime forces and Hizballah fighters marched into Zabadani, the last rebel-held town in Qalamoun area on the borders with Lebanon.

The offensive is backed by warplanes and helicopters that have bombarded the town with at least 12 barrel bombs since Sunday morning, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Hizballah's TV channel, Al-Manar, reported the offensive on Sunday although security sources confirmed that the Hizballah-led offensive started on Thursday. "The Syrian army and the resistance’s mujahedeen have entered the town of Zabadani from the western side and taken over the Al-Jamaiyat area west of the town", Al-Manar TV added.

The TV channel described as the push as the"final and fast-moving battle" for Zabadani. Al-Manar then aired videos taken by Hizballah's "war media" showing ground troops entering parts of Zabadani.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 14 regime forces and Hizballah fighters had been killed in Zabadani over the past 24 hours, along with at least 11 rebel fighters.

Zabadani's significance

Zabadani was once a popular resort town lying in a lush agricultural plain surrounded by a mountain range shared to the east with Lebanon.

The Syrian army has long sought to wrest control of Zabadani from rebels who have held it since 2012. As for Hizballah, the Syrian town holds symbolic and strategic value.

Apart from its touristic legacy, Zabadani once served as a logistical hub for supplying Hizballah with Iranian weapons. Considering its proximity to Lebanese villages, it also served as a meeting point for Hizballah fighters and Iranian Revolutionary Guards. 

Zabadani has geopolitical significance for Iran's so-called "resistance axis". The Syrian town is near Beirut-Damascus motorway which is heavily used by the regime and its allies in Lebanon to travel between the two capitals.

Losing the town of Zabadani would be a serious blow to Syrian rebels in Qalamoun.