A view of a part of the town of Yabroud which is a major rebel bastion near the Lebanese border north of Damascus, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA on March 15, 2014. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters
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Syria's army and Lebanon's Hezbollah seized full control of the rebel bastion Yabrud on Sunday, dealing the opposition a heavy symbolic and strategic blow in the Qalamoun region along the Lebanese border.Syrian soldiers sat in the streets after seizing the town in fierce clashes with the support of battle-hardened fighters from Lebanon's Shiite group Hezbollah and pro-regime militiamen.The fall of Yabrud comes after months of Syrian army operations in the Qalamoun region.The town was once home to some 30,000 people, including a Christian minority, and had been a rebel bastion since early in the Syrian uprising that began in March 2011 .Sunni Arsal is largely sympathetic to the Sunni-led uprising, and rebel fighters are believed to have rear bases in areas around the town, which are regularly targeted by Syrian warplanes.The town's fall comes a day after the third anniversary of Syria's conflict, which has killed more than 146,000 people.
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