This YouTube grab from a video released by al-Manar TV, shows smoke billowing in the Zabadani area. (The Daily Star/YouTube grab)
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A 72-hour cease-fire came into effect Wednesday in Zabadani, a major rebel stronghold along Syria's border with Lebanon, to give more time for negotiations between the Syrian regime and militants who have been fighting there since early July.The cease-fire, which was extended for another 24 hours from an initial 48-hour agreement, also included two towns in Idlib province, where rebels are fighting the regime, according to a security source, as well as fighters and activists in Zabadani. The pause in fighting, which was announced to permit negotiators, comprised of Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham representing opposition forces in Zabadani, and the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, to finalize a plan allowing rebel fighters allied with the Nusra Front to withdraw safely from Zabadani. The truce came after Hezbollah and the Syrian regime announced that ground forces were advancing toward the center of the heavily fortified town, surrounding the besieged rebels. The battle for Zabadani saw heavy aerial bombardment on the part of the regime.Each minute of battle, the field commander said, he counted five strikes. Hundreds of rebels have died in the fighting, while Hezbollah has lost 37 men and the Syrian regime around 50 during the weekslong battle.
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