HEZBOLLAH HELPS ASSAD'S TROOPS
Syrian government troops and Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon pushed into the Syrian border town of Zabadani on Sunday amid heavy airstrikes, continuing an offensive aimed at strengthening their control of routes between Lebanon and Syria. Pushing insurgents out of the mountain town would continue advances aimed at cutting their supply lines to Lebanon and would also be a symbolic victory. Zabadani, a popular weekend getaway from Damascus before the war, was one of the first towns wrested from government control early in the revolt against President Bashar Assad that began in 2011. Hezbollah, which has intervened on behalf of its ally, the Syrian government, is trying to cement control of the Lebanese frontier. It seeks to stop infiltration by insurgent groups, including the Nusra Front, Al-Qaida's arm in Syria, which views Hezbollah's Shiite base as apostates. The road is a crucial link to the outside world that has taken on more importance as various groups have seized control over much of Syria's borders.
New York Times