Syrian army seizes "full control" of strategic rebel bastion Yabroud
A handout picture released on March 15, 2014, by the official Syrian Arab News Agency reportedly shows the city of Yabroud after the Syrian army advanced in the key rebel bastion. (AFP)
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Syrian army forces on Sunday seized full control Yabroud, a rebel stronghold in the strategic Qalamun region near Syria's border with Lebanon, state media reported.
"Our brave armed forces have full control over Yabroud in Damascus province and are combing through the town and removing explosive devices placed by terrorists," state television said, citing a military source, according to Agence France Presse.
Being in control of Yabroud, which is currently the last rebel bastion near the Lebanese border north of Damascus, would help President Bashar al-Assad's troops to secure the land route that links his Mediterranean strongholds with the capital, Reuters reported. Control of Yabroud would also allow army troops to cut off the rebel's cross-border supply line with Lebanon.
“The Syrian army Friday entered the town of Yabroud north of Damascus from the east, and advanced along the town's main street,” an army source said, according to The Daily Star.
“The rebels are fleeing toward Rankus village” to the south. “If their flight continues, the capture of the city is only a matter of days.”
State television confirmed the army entered the city: “Syrian army units have advanced in the Yabroud area and now control its eastern approaches and northeastern boundary.”
The broadcaster said the offensive had caused a “breakdown in the ranks of terrorist groups,” the government term for rebels battling Assad.