Beirut: The Syrian army and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters entered the rebel-held city of Zabadani on the second day of a major offensive to capture the border area around the Beirut-Damascus highway, al Manar television reported on Sunday.
The Lebanese Shi`ite group Hezbollah`s television station said its fighters and the Syrian army had entered the Jamaiyat district in the western part of the city, about 45 km (30 miles) northwest of the Syrian capital Damascus. Footage showed ground troops entering parts of the city.
The army, backed by Hezbollah, has long sought to wrest control of Zabadani, near the Lebanese border, from the rebels who have held it since 2012, a year after the start of the Syrian civil war.
The offensive began on Saturday and was preceded by several days of aerial and artillery bombing of outposts held by a coalition of mainly Sunni Muslim jihadist fighters defending the city.
The area around the once popular resort city was part of a major supply route for weapons sent by Syria to Hezbollah before the 2011 outbreak of the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 200,000 people.
The Syrian army said: "Tens of terrorists were killed and injured" in the assault that was "proceeding successfully".