News / Middle East

Syrian Forces Enter Last Rebel Bastion Near Lebanese Border

In this photo, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian rebel looks through his binocular at one of the frontline of Yabroud town, the last rebel stronghold in Syria's mountainous Qalamoun region, Mar. 13, 2014. (Photo taken and provided by Local Comity of Yabroud Town)
In this photo, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian rebel looks through his binocular at one of the frontline of Yabroud town, the last rebel stronghold in Syria's mountainous Qalamoun region, Mar. 13, 2014. (Photo taken and provided by Local Comity of Yabroud Town)
Reuters
Syrian soldiers entered eastern districts of the town of Yabroud, the last rebel bastion near the Lebanese border north of Damascus, on Saturday and advanced towards the main street, Al Mayadeen television said.

The Beirut-based station broadcast footage showing soldiers charging through a field towards an arched entrance of the town and a sign saying “Welcome to Yabroud”. Gunfire could be heard as the soldiers proceeded.

Capturing Yabroud would help President Bashar al-Assad choke off a cross-border rebel supply line from Lebanon. The town is near the highway linking Damascus to the former commercial hub of Aleppo in the north and to the Mediterranean coast in the west, where Assad's minority Alawite community is concentrated.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the government was pounding some districts of Yabroud with improvised barrel bombs and shelling its outskirts.

The anti-Assad Observatory said heavy fighting was going on between government forces supported by Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah and rebel factions including the Nusra Front, al-Qaida's official branch in Syria, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida splinter group.

Thousands of people fled Yabroud, a town of about 40,000 to 50,000 people roughly 60 km (40 miles) north of Damascus, and the surrounding areas after it was bombed and shelled last month ahead of the government offensive.

The government has been making incremental gains along the highway as well as around Damascus and Aleppo in recent months, regaining the initiative in a conflict, which began exactly three years ago.

al-Qaida-linked commander killed

A senior commander in the Nusra Front was killed late on Friday on the outskirts of Yabroud during shelling and clashes with the army and Hezbollah fighters, the Observatory said.

Abu Azzam al-Kuwaiti was the deputy leader of the Nusra Front in Qalamoun, the mountainous zone between Damascus and the Lebanese border where Yabroud is situated.

He had been a principal negotiator in the prisoner exchange last week which secured the release of 13 Greek Orthodox nuns held by the Nusra Front since December, according to the Observatory.

More than 140,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million have fled abroad as refugees in an increasingly sectarian civil war. The conflict began with mass street protests against Assad in March 2011 but turned into an armed insurgency after a violent security crackdown on demonstrators.

European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, in a statement on Saturday to mark the third anniversary of the uprising, urged Assad's government to comply with a June 30 U.N. deadline to eliminate its entire chemical weapons program.

Damascus did not meet a commitment to destroy 12 chemical production facilities by March 15, after having already missed several deadlines laid out in last year's agreement.

Ashton also said the international community had a responsibility to bring the conflict to an end.

“The tragedy in Syria has no parallel in recent history. The only solution to the crisis is a political one: the establishment of a transitional governing body, and a genuine Syrian-led inclusive political process to establish a democratic and pluralistic Syria.”

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Haron from: Afghanistan
March 16, 2014 11:08 AM
I wish and hope to eliminate these savages [rebels] as soon as possible and Syria could be a beautiful country again. it is a shame for those countries to support anti or rebels of Syria against their country instead of supporting Syria government to build their country more than past.


by: amir dread from: NYC
March 16, 2014 11:00 AM
We all know who the terrorists and their supporters are in Syria, Libya, and everywhere else. We know who are behind the coup in Ukraine. We understand what terror is, and we see who is terrorizing whom. We keep silent because we are afraid of the terrorists.


by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
March 15, 2014 10:55 PM
In place of giving food,education,health and good business climate, world champions of civil liberty have provided funds and weapons to world famous TERRORIST to fullfil their wish to change REGIME. How much poor syrians suffered we do not have time to read their PAINFUL AND TEAR story. We have time for drinks,dance and other bad habits, but we do not have time and money for poor peoples (CREATED BY US). We enjoy with tear and fear on their face and then we call champion of democracy.


by: meanbill from: USA
March 15, 2014 7:38 PM
THE SYRIAN WAR? ... The Syrian war would never had began if the US and EU hadn't funded and armed the anti-Assad fighters, and the foreign terrorists who joined the anti-Assad fighters, to bring their branch of Islam to Syria..
THE SYRIAN WAR would begin winding down in a month, if the US and EU would quit funding the anti-Assad fighters (terrorists), in Syria with funding and weapons, with help from their Muslim allies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey...
WAR should always be the last option, but the US and EU and NATO, seem to be starting all of them, or involved in there existence... (WHY?) ........ REALLY?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid