Hezbollah backs up Assad troops target rebels in Damascus suburbs
Smoke rises from a bomb attack that hit Damascus earlier this year. The capital's southern suburbs have been targeted by army troops, with Hezbollah, in an attempt to diminish any rebel presence. (file AFP)
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Syrian regime forces were backed up by Hezbollah forces in Damascus, where they engaged in a fierce firefight with rebel soldiers, Agence France Presse reported Thursday.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime has amped up its offensives against the rebels in order to cut off the rebel's supply lines.
"Army troops and Hezbollah members fought rebels near the Khomeini hospital in Zayabiyeh village," southeast of Damascus, the Observatory told AFP.
"Hezbollah fighters, who have a strong presence at Sayyida Zeinab (in southeastern Damascus), are trying to seize control of villages near Zayabiyeh and Babila," the Observatory added.
Internal reports suggest that forces loyal to the Syrian government launched shelling offensives against Zayabiyeh and Babila.
Hezbollah run Al Manar television channel reported that they Syrian army had advanced towards Zayabiyeh. The village is just south of the mixed sectarian district of Sayyida Zeinab, which is named after a sacred Shiite Muslim shrine.
Hezbollah's has intensified it's presence on the ground in Syria, and has fought on the ground with Assad's troops for months, focusing their efforts on the south of the country, where the Syrian rebels are still largely in control.
An area of particular contention for the regime is the suburbs of southern Damascus, a rebel stronghold. According to Observatory reports, the regime is seeking to cut off their supply routes to isolate the pockets of rebel-held areas.
"There is a fierce campaign against the (rebels) south of the capital," Damascus-based activist Matar Ismail told 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," Ismail told Agence France Presse over the Internet.