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Syria: Army advancing on rebel town near Lebanon

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This picture taken on Saturday, March 1, 2014, provided by the anti-government activist group Coordination Committee In Kfar Takharim, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens inspecting destroyed cars and buildings which were attacked by a Syrian government forces airstrike in the town of Kfar Takharim in the northwest province of Idlib, Syria. Government airstrikes hit residential buildings in the town of Kfar Tarakhim in the northwest province of Idlib on Saturday afternoon, according to the Idlib News group and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (AP Photo/Coordination Committee In Kfar Takharim)

This picture taken on Saturday, March 1, 2014, provided by the anti-government activist group Coordination Committee In Kfar Takharim, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens inspecting destroyed cars and buildings which were attacked by a Syrian government forces airstrike in the town of Kfar Takharim in the northwest province of Idlib, Syria. Government airstrikes hit residential buildings in the town of Kfar Tarakhim in the northwest province of Idlib on Saturday afternoon, according to the Idlib News group and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (AP Photo/Coordination Committee In Kfar Takharim)

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BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian state media say government forces are advancing in battle and tightening their grip on the last rebel stronghold near the border with Lebanon.

The SANA news agency said on Tuesday that troops have made significant gains in the battle for the opposition-held town of Yabroud.

It cites a field commander in the mountainous Qalamoun region along Syria’s border with Lebanon who says President Bashar Assad’s forces captured several hills and strategic positions on the town’s outskirts.

Backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, Syrian troops have been on the offensive in Qalamoun since December, trying to sever a main supply route for the rebels from Lebanon.

Opposition groups say fighting is underway on Tuesday on the edge of Yabroud, with military helicopters dropping barrel bombs on the area.

Associated Press

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