The rebel-held town of Zabadani is witnessing the heaviest period of fighting since February 2012, as rebels seek to break the regime’s siege of the town. The blockade imposed on Zabadani by the regime had been preventing the entry of basic materials for more than a month. Phone communication was cut, electricity interrupted and some women were arrested in the area in early July, according to local sources in the region and pro-regime websites such as Aksalser.

This prompted rebel fighters, who united under the name of the “United Army of Zabadani,” on Aug. 23 to target several regime checkpoints spread on the road between Bloudan and Zabadani, northeast of the city, to ease the pressure on civilians. A rebel spokesman in Zabadani told Al-Monitor via Skype that the town was surrounded by more than 100 checkpoints, and that mines had been spread in many areas around Zabadani to prevent anyone from entering or exiting.

We arrived at the regime-held town of Bukain — 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from Zabadani. We heard the loud shelling of Zabadani amid clear anxiety and fear of potential spillover. […]