Syrian soldiers entered eastern districts of the town of Yabroud, the last rebel bastion near the Lebanese border north of Damascus, on Saturday and advanced towards the main street, Al Mayadeen television said.
The Beirut-based station broadcast footage showing soldiers charging through a field towards an arched entrance of the town and a sign saying "Welcome to Yabroud". Gunfire could be heard as the soldiers proceeded.
would help President Bashar al-Assad
choke off a cross-border rebel supply line from Lebanon
. The town is near the highway linking Damascus
to the former commercial hub of Aleppo
in the north and to the Mediterranean coast
in the west, where Assad's minority Alawite community is concentrated.
The Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights monitoring group said the government was pounding some districts of Yabroud
with improvised barrel bombs and shelling its outskirts.
The anti-Assad Observatory
said heavy fighting was going on between government forces supported by Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah and rebel factions including the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria
, and the Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant
(ISIL), an al Qaeda splinter group.