Syrian government forces battling alongside fighters from the Lebanon-based Hezbollah have nearly broken the rebels’ hold on a strategic region north of the capital, Damascus, Syrian state news media and opposition activists said Thursday.

A number of rebel groups, some of them linked to Al Qaeda, seized a string of towns this month in the Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon and effectively cut off traffic on Syria’s most important internal highway, deepening fuel shortages in the capital.

But after sending reinforcements, the government appears to be regaining ground. On Thursday, its forces took the town of Deir Attiyah, which straddles the highway, and were fighting to enter the next town to the south, Nabak, Syrian state news media and opposition activists said. […]