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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid