Regime rolls out barrel bombs as Yabroud rebels hang on
February 24, 2014
BARRELS ON YABROUD: The Syrian air force shelled Yabroud with barrel bombs on Sunday as rebels cling to control of the town, 70 kilometers north of Damascus in the mountains of Qalamoun, amidst a three week-long government campaign.
Syrian troops have been attempting an advance into Yabroud, about 50 kilometers east of the Lebanese border since early February.
A victory in Yabroud, the last rebel-held town in Qalamoun, would be a huge media gain for the regime, Amer al-Qalamouni, the director of the Qalamoun Media Center, told Syria Direct. “Not to mention that by controlling Yabroud, the regime would be able to completely control the highway between Damascus and Homs, which is considered the most important road [in the revolution],” he added.
In November and December of last year, Syrian government troops supported by Hezbollah fighters captured a string of towns along the regime-controlled national highway between Damascus and Homs near Syria’s western border with Lebanon.
Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan reported Monday that the Syrian army had taken control over the village of Wadi al-Jarabi’a near Yabroud. Taking the village could allow regime troops to cut the rebel supply line to Yabroud from the Lebanese village of Arsal, where more than 60,000 Syrians have fled since the government’s campaign for Qalamoun began in November.
An estimated 300 regime soldiers have been killed since the battle for Yabroud began, the Qalamoun Media Center reported, 100 of whom are Hezbollah’s reinforcements from Lebanon.
On Friday, rebel groups responded to a Hezbollah video posted online, titled “Resolve to be victorious in Yabroud,” urging support for Hezbollah’s campaign in Syria. Rebels reacted with their own video: “Dig your own grave in Yabroud.”
Yabroud is the largest city in the Qalamoun region and is now home to a number of FSA, Islamic Front, and Jubhat a-Nusra brigades.