Scores of Syrian rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad were killed in fierce fighting south of Damascus on Wednesday, as the army pressed a major offensive, an NGO told AFP.
The fighting, between rebel brigades and regular troops, supported by militia and elements of Hezbollah, took place in the areas of Husseiniyah, Al-Thiyabiyeh and Bouaydah as government warplanes pounded the area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“At least 22 people, the majority of them rebels, including a commander,” were killed, the Britain-based group said, without elaborating.
At the same time, the group said “dozens” of regime forces were killed.
Earlier, the Observatory had said regular troops had reinforced their control of two villages separating Thiyabiyeh and Bouaydah.
For its part, the Local Coordination Committees, a group of militants on the ground, said the Abu Fadel Abbas Brigade composed mostly of Iraqi Shiites, along with Hezbollah fighters and elite troops were carrying out a major offensive.
State news agency SANA said government forces had “tightened their control over the town of Husseiniyah and the outskirts of Al-Thiyabiyeh.”
The two towns are located near the Shiite pilgrimage site of Sayyida Zeinab in the southern outkirts of Damascus.
Clashes has been reported in the area for months and terrorists from Hezbollah, which backs Assad's regime, have been dispatched to protect the site, later joining regime troops before the launch of a withering assault on the strategic border town of Qusayr.
Separately, rebels seized a guard post on the Jordanian border after a month of fierce fighting, the Observatory told AFP.
“Rebel fighters took control of the Hajanah border battalion post near the city of Daraa after laying siege to it for two months and fierce clashes around it lasting a month,” the NGO said.
Some of the border guard battalion had withdrawn, and there was no immediate word on any casualties during the post's capture.
The border post is adjacent to an old customs post seized by rebels days earlier.
With its capture, opposition forces now control a ribbon of territory along the border from outside Daraa to the edge of the Golan Heights.
As the fighting Syria continued on Wednesday, two Israeli soldiers were slightly wounded as a Syrian mortar exploded in the Golan Heights.
According to preliminary reports, one of the soldiers was injured from shrapnel fragments and the other had suffered from shock as a result from the fall.
Both soldiers were initially treated for their moderate wounds at the scene by Magen David Adom paramedics, however, the pair will receive further treatment at a nearby hospital.
Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor sent a letter of complaint last month to the Security Council denouncing a series of Syrian violations of the 1974 ceasefire agreement between the two countries.
In one such incident, gunfire from the Syrian side of the border hit close to an IDF patrol in the northern Golan Heights. There were no injuries or damages.