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Syrian army, Hezbollah lay siege to Zabadani

The Syrian army and its allied militia have launched a major assault on the rebel-held Syrian city of Zabadani

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The Syrian army and its allied militia have launched a major assault on the rebel-held Syrian city of Zabadani, the Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah group's television station said on Saturday.

The Syrian army closed in on Sunni Muslim rebels inside Zabadani in a major military offensive launched to recapture the city near the border with Lebanon, state television said.

A Syrian army source was quoted as saying its forces were "making headway on several fronts" and tightening a siege of the city and had inflicted heavy casualties on rebels defending it.

Iranian backed Lebanese Hezbollah TV station earlier said the Syrian army and its fighters had begun a major aerial bombing campaign with heavy artillery shelling of rebel outposts. It showed footage of plumes of smoke hanging over the city.

An announcement of the start of a military campaign by the Syrian army and "resistance forces", a term used by the Lebanese group to describe Hezbollah's forces, had been expected in recent days.

The group that is fighting alongside the Syrian army in Syria against radical jihadists, has in recent months stepped up its assault on their outposts along the Qalamoun mountain region the Lebanese Syrian border.