This morning, 3 rebel fighters were shot dead by Hezbollah snipers at Zabadani after they attempted to storm a government checkpoint in the town. Meanwhile, rebel activists claim the militants were shot while wandering the town’s streets and did not show any sign of aggression.
Zabadani and Madaya witnessed heavy clashes last summer as Islamist rebels attempted to fend off government troops and Hezbollah from securing the Syrian-Lebanese border. With dozens of casualties on both sides, the Syrian government’s plan of capturing these towns was to reopen the M113-road that runs from the Lebanese city of Balbeek to Damascus.
However, rebels denied government forces access to the road, but nevertheless found themselves pressured into accepting a cease-fire agreement which had many fighters from Jaish al-Islam and the Al-Zabadani Hawks Brigade (Free Syrian Army group) evacuated to the largely rebel-held governorate of Idlib.
With a peace deal in place since last September, clashes inside Madaya and Zabadani have almost entirely halted with relatively few incidents reported in the past half year. However, today’s events could well see Zabadani erupt into full-blown warfare as tensions once again on the rise inside the town.