Hezbollah fighters joined Syrian regime troops in their offensive against rebels near Damascus on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights has said.
The move by Hezbollah was an attempt to cut rebel supply lines, according to the Observatory.
Army troops, together with Hezbollah, fought rebels near the Khomeini hospital in the Zayabiyeh village, southeast of Damascus, the group stated.
“Hezbollah fighters, who have a strong presence at Sayyida Zeinab [in southeastern Damascus], are trying to seize control of villages near Zayabiyeh and Babila,” said the group, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground for its reports.
The Syrian army shelled both Zayabiyeh and Babila, according to the group.
Activists say the regime is trying to crush the rebellion on the outskirts of Damascus in order to cut off supply lines leading into rebel pockets inside the capital.
“There is a fierce campaign against the [rebels] south of the capital,” said Damascus-based activist Matar Ismail, as quoted by AFP.
“The humanitarian situation is very critical…We believe the [regime] is trying to test the [rebels’] strength, in order to try to advance on the south of the capital,” said Ismail.
Ismail said Hezbollah and the Abu Al-Fadl Abbas brigade – a mostly Syrian Shiite force that has also attracted Shiite fighters from elsewhere in the region – were playing a key role in the fight.
Hezbollah was also credited with an important role in the Syrian army’s recapture of the former rebel stronghold of Qusayr in central Homs province earlier this month.
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, has said the Lebanese group will remain engaged in Syria’s conflict.
The Syrian army meanwhile renewed shelling of other rebel areas near the capital, including northwestern Zabadani and Qalamoun to the northeast, according to the Observatory.
Both areas are a short distance from the Lebanese border.
Fighting in Idlib
Elsewhere, fierce battles broke out between rebels and troops in Idlib, in northwestern Syria, the Observatory said.
Opposition forces captured an army post on the road linking the coastal province of Latakia to Ariha in Idlib province, and two tanks were destroyed.
In regime stronghold Latakia, an explosion at an ammunition depot wounded at least 13 soldiers, said the Observatory.
State television said the blast was the result of a technical failure, and that only six had suffered light wounds.
Wednesday’s violence comes a day after at least 83 people were killed across Syria, said the Britain-based Observatory.
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