Coalition jets launch “most sustained set of air strikes to date” against ISIL’s de facto capital in northern Syria.
The Syrian army backed up by the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah advanced on the rebel-held city of Zabadani in the suburbs of Damascus, a monitoring group said.
On the second day of a major offensive on the border city of Zabadani, the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters managed to enter the western parts of the city on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
Hezbollah’s television station al-Manar reported that its fighters and the Syrian army had entered Jamaiyat district in the western part of the city, located nearly 50km northwest of the capital Damascus.
At least 14 Hezbollah fighters and government forces in addition to 11 opposition fighters were killed in the clashes, the UK-based observatory reported.
Zabadani is controlled by mostly al-Nusra Front and its allied factions.
Government helicopters dropped at least 12 barrel bombs on the city, as the army used several surface-to-surface missiles to target opposition fighters in an attempt to recapture the city and push to seize the last rebel stronghold along Lebanon’s border.
On Saturday the observatory documented the use of 32 barrel bombs by government forces, adding that the total number of air strikes targeting Zabadani has risen to 130 in the past 48 hours.
Opposition fighters have been in control of the city since 2012, despite several attempts by Bashar al-Assad’s troops to retake it. The city has witnessed near daily shelling since then.
Zabadani was one of the first cities to fall under rebel control and the opposition’s last stronghold in the Qalamoun region.