Jul 5, 8:23 AM EDT

Syrian troops, Hezbollah enter rebel-held mountain resort near Lebanon border


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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- State media says Syrian forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have entered a rebel-held mountain resort near the border with Lebanon, a day after launching a major offensive to capture the town.

State-run Syrian TV says troops entered the town of Zabadani from the western Jamaiyat district Sunday. Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV ran exclusive footage purportedly showing Hezbollah fighters in the town. It showed scenes of heavy fighting including explosions and mushrooms of white smoke.

Zabadani's capture would tighten Hezbollah's grip on Syrian territories bordering Lebanon and strengthen the Syrian government's control over of the Beirut-Damascus highway.

Zabadani has been held by rebels since shortly after Syria's crisis began in March 2011. The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 220,000 people and wounded at least a million.

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