Hezbollah and the Syrian army tightened the screws on militants holed up in the center of the embattled border town of Zabadani over the weekend. Hezbollah was able to take 17 militants captive – 11 members of the Free Syrian Army and six Islamists – during the fierce clashes, a security source told The Daily Star.
The source added that battles raged over the weekend between Hezbollah and the Syrian army on the one hand, and militant groups ensconced in Zabadani’s city center on the other. The militants came under intense aerial bombardment, the source added.
The weekend’s fighting led to the killing of ten militants, while Hezbollah lost two of its fighters in the battles, the source said.
Hezbollah and the Syrian army have gained control over large parts of the former resort town of Zabadani and its outskirts since launching an offensive at the start of the month. But the allied forces are not “in a rush” to take over the town, the source said.
According to the source, a total of 15 Hezbollah fighters and 28 Syrian army soldiers have been killed in the Zabadani clashes since they began about three weeks ago.
Hezbollah Sunday laid to rest in his hometown of Kawthariyat al-Siyyed in south Lebanon fighter Mohammad Mahdi Ali Kojok, who died during clashes in Zabadani.
Hezbollah fighters wearing military fatigues and chanting anti-ISIS (Daesh) slogans carried the coffin as women threw rice and flower petals at the procession. Kojok’s father Ali, also a Hezbollah fighter wounded in Syria about five months ago, attended the funeral on a wheelchair.
Zabadani bears strategic significance for the party since it once served as a logistical hub for supplying Hezbollah with Iranian weapons. It also served as a base for party fighters and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The capture of the town of Zabadani would add to Hezbollah’s major field victories, which saw the party take 64 percent of the Qalamoun hills since their offensive, backed by the Syrian army, began in the region last May.
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