Syrian government forces, backed by Hezbollah, have taken control of the Syrian town of Yabroud after driving out rebel fighters, Reuters reports. As an influx of militants from Syria into Lebanon threatens to destabilize the country, tensions were running high on the border and in the nearby town of Yabroud. Eager to suppress the Syrian rebels, Lebanon-based Hezbollah supported the Syrian army and pro-government fighters.
Possession of Yabroud helps President Bashar al-Assad secure the land route that connects Damascus with Aleppo and the Mediterranean coast. Capturing this coastal region marks a major strategic victory for the Syrian military.
A month before of the government offensive, Yabroud and the surrounding areas were bombed, causing thousands of civilians to flee. Before its fall yesterday–which resulted in the death of seven Syrians and 19 Hezbollah fighters and of 100 others–Yabroud was the last rebel stronghold near the Lebanese border. About 1,400 rebels from the Free Syrian Army, Ahrar al-Sham, and other rebel factions fled over the past two days and militants who stayed to fight eventually withdrew to nearby villages.