Hezbollah and the Syrian army Monday captured the "main entrance" to a key border city that has been scene of intense fighting over the past two weeks, Al-Manar reported.
The Hezbollah-run station said the allied forces captured the Hay al-Sultani neighborhood in Zabadani's southeastern region, leaving scores of militants dead or wounded.
The report said the latest advance has led to the closure of the “main entrance to the city,” isolating Zabadani from the neighboring mountain town of Madaya.
Monday’s gain comes after the allies issued an ultimatum to Syrian rebel factions to surrender or die, a source close to Hezbollah told The Daily Star over the weekend.
It was believed that the rebels had been trapped inside Zabadani since their escape routes were cut off on July 4, but Monday's report suggests they still had access to some villages south of the village.
Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched the offensive to retake the town earlier this month, hoping to bolster their control of land routes between Lebanon and Syria.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that Hezbollah’s overall death toll now stands at 12, while at least 16 Syrian army soldiers and 200 militants have been killed in the battle.
Hezbollah and Syrian troops also managed to capture around 43 rebels, the source added.
The capture of the largest Qalamoun city would add to Hezbollah’s recent victories in Lebanon’s eastern mountain range since launching a wider offensive to oust militants from the border region in early May.
Zabadani is located on the southern end of Qalamoun, about 50 kilometers northwest of Damascus and 12 kilometers northeast of Lebanon’s Masnaa border crossing.
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