Syrian troops take control of opposition stronghold Yabrud

March 16, 2014 at 2:43 PM

YABRUD, Syria, March 16 (UPI) -- Syrian soldiers Sunday seized the rebel-held town of Yabrud in the strategic Qalamun region near the Lebanese border, Syrian state-run media report.

"Our brave armed forces have full control over Yabrud in Damascus province and are combing through the town and removing explosive devices placed by terrorists," state television said, citing a military source.

The report also said Syrian troops arrested or killed a large number of "terrorists," Middle East Online reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British non-governmental organization, confirmed the report, saying the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement played a role in the seizure of Yabrud.

"Hezbollah forces supported by Syrian regime troops and the pro-regime National Defense Forces militia have taken control of large parts of Yabrud," the group said.

Syrian forces are moving on to secure Fleita and nearby Rankus in the Qalamun region, a security official in Damascus said.

The official added President Bashar Assad's regime plans to cut the opposition off from supply routes running across the Lebanese border.

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