Syria army piles pressure on Qalamoun’s Yabrud
December 10, 2013 by NOW
BEIRUT - Syrian regime forces on Tuesday bombarded outskirts of the rebel-held town of Yabrud, the last opposition stronghold in the strategic Qalamoun region north of Damascus, a monitoring group said.
”The next operation in Qalamoun is most likely going to be Yabrud, the last opposition stronghold,” Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
In an email, the Observatory said regime forces “pounded the outskirts of Yabrud and the Rima area and the outskirts of the town of Nabak.”
Meanwhile, Syrian Revolution Command Council spokesperson Abu Hamza told NOW that rebels destroyed two armored vehicles in Qalamoun’s Yabrud on Tuesday.
He added that regime warplanes targeted Moadamiyat al-Sham and Rima in the Qalamoun Mountains.
Abou Hamza went on to claim that regime forces, aided by members of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and Iraqi Thou al-Fiqar Brigade, were conducting raids and arresting civilians in Qalamoun’s Nabak.
The move towards Yabrud comes after government forces, reportedly backed by fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and members of a Syrian pro-regime militia, took Nabak.
The capture comes as part of a broad regime campaign to seize the mountainous Qalamoun region, severing rebel supply routes that run across the nearby border with Lebanon.
The regime has now taken control of the towns of Qara, Deir Attiyeh and Nabak, all of which lie along the strategic Damascus-Homs highway.
The highway had been closed by the fighting, but authorities are expected to reopen it shortly.
Opposition fighters have taken control of the historic Christian town of Maalula, also in Qalamoun, but Yabrud remains the only real stronghold still in rebel hands.
Abdel Rahman told AFP rebel forces were also present in a handful of villages in the region, but that Yabrud represented the last major strategic prize in Qalamoun for the regime.
Syrian state media announced Monday that regime forces had seized control of Nabak and were “pursuing remaining pockets of terrorists in the outskirts of the town.”
The regime uses the word “terrorists” to refer to all members of the opposition.
The Qalamoun region has long been a rear base for the opposition, but the regime’s advance is likely to cut supply routes for weapons and fighters.