News / Middle East

Syrian Troops Seize Major Rebel Town Near Lebanon

Edward Yeranian
Syrian government forces appear to have recaptured large portions of the bitterly contested mountain town of Yabroud, along the border with Lebanon.  Opposition activists claim pockets of rebel forces still are still holding out in portions of the town and hills overlooking it.

The slow and grinding battle for the mountainous region of Qalamoun, north of Damascus, appears to have ended Sunday with a strategic victory of Syrian government forces.  Control over the heights along the Lebanese border gives Damascus a firm hold on a major highway from the capital to the northern coast.

A Syrian Army spokesman called the capture of Yabroud a decisive blow against “terrorism” and noted the government victory will choke rebel supply-lines to neighboring Lebanon.

He says the Syrian Army victory in Yabroud has brought stability and security to the mountains north of Damascus and killed a large number of mercenaries and terrorists who were using the region as a passage for arms from Lebanon.  

A rebel fighter calling himself Abu Hoda al Homsi told al Arabiya TV that “pockets of rebels are still in control of portions of Yabroud,” and they had “pulled out of the city center after waiting for reinforcements, which never came.”  He added that government planes and artillery had been “pounding rebel positions for days.”

Syrian TV reported rebels had placed mines and booby-traps along side-streets, making it dangerous to enter parts of the town.  

Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba told Arab satellite channels the government victory in Yabroud was largely the work of Lebanon's Hezbollah militia and other Shi'ite militiamen from Iraq and Iran.

He says rebel forces are waging a bitter battle against an enemy with no scruples, including Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi'ite militiamen and even fighters from Iran.  He claims the outsiders will dig their own tombs in the battle over Yabroud.  

Arab satellite channels also reported government shelling and air raids on rebel-held territory in and around Syria's largest city of Aleppo remains intense.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid