A Syrian soldier flashes the victory sign in the town of Yabrud, March 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID
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Army troops backed by Hezbollah fighters seized a key rebel supply town near the Lebanese border Sunday, driving them from the area and scoring a major blow against them in the 3-year-old conflict.The fall of Yabroud immediately emboldened government forces to attack nearby rebel-held towns, pressing forward in what has been nearly a yearlong advance against rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad. Syrian soldiers sat in the streets after seizing the town in fierce clashes with the support of battle-hardened fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah and pro-regime militiamen.According to Abu Akram, a Syrian army soldier in Yabroud, the military now aims to take over Flita and Rankous, two rebel-held villages on the road to Lebanon.A spokesman of the Islamic Front, a rebel coalition of Islamist militias, said fighters fled the hills that overlook Yabroud before army troops entered.
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