Syrian forces clearing out rebels from stronghold near Lebanon -military source

by Reuters
Sunday, 16 March 2014 07:07 GMT

BEIRUT, March 16 (Reuters) - Syrian forces in Yabroud were in the final stages on Sunday of clearing out rebels holed up there for months and had begun dismantling roadside bombs laid by the militants, a military source told Reuters.

Capturing Yabroud, the last major rebel bastion near the Lebanese border north of Damascus, would help President Bashar al-Assad secure the land route linking his Mediterranean coastal stronghold with the capital Damascus, and choke off a cross-border rebel supply line from Lebanon.

Mass street protests against Assad broke out three years ago and escalated into civil war after a violent security crackdown on demonstrators.

(Reporting by Mariam Karouny and Stephen Kalin; Editing by Alison Williams)