Syrian troops and fighters of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah have made new gains in their battle to retake the strategic border town of Zabadani as more militants choose to surrender.
Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV reported Thursday that Hezbollah fighters and the Syrian army units managed to completely destroy two new tunnels south of Zabadani.
The underground corridors, which were used by militants as major supply lines for transferring weapons and forces into Zabadani, where branches of a 70-long tunnel were destroyed on Wednesday in a lightening offensive by Syrian and Hezbollah forces.
The advance in the flashpoint city came amid reports that some militant groups have decided to surrender due to tightening siege on their positions. The allied forces have already established full control over major entrances of Zabadani as well as key plains south of the city.
Before the operation started for retaking the border town three weeks ago, an ultimatum was issued by Hezbollah for the militants to give in.
A report by al-Alam said Thursday that one of the militant groups operating in the area has asked for a halt in the fighting to start negotiations with the Syrian government.
A highly strategic town in Syria’s Rif Dimashq Province, Zabadani has been a major stronghold of the militant groups like Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham. The city has enabled the militants to move along the Syrian-Lebanese border and transfer ammunition and forces into areas not far from the Syrian capital Damascus.
The gains in Zabadani came amid increasing success by Syrian forces in other operations with reports suggesting army and air force units have carried out successful attacks on the positions of militants in north and south.
A report by al-Manar said “tens of terrorists” were killed in Syrian army’s operation in central parts of the city of Daraa, the capital of the southwestern province by the same name. Syrian media, including el-Ekhbariyah, also confirmed the report, saying the operation targeted Tel al-Zaatar and Yadouda districts in Daraa.
Militants also suffered a huge blow in the northwestern province of Idlib, where they have imposed a week-long siege on two government-held villages in the area. According to al-Alam, at least 50 militants were killed after Syrian fighter jets pounded positions of the militants around Kafraya and Faoua while one of their tanks was completely destroyed during the operation.
Since March 2001, Syria has been grappling with a militancy sponsored by foreign governments including Turkey, the United States and some regional Arab allies. The crisis has left nearly 230,000 people dead.
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