Syrian elite forces backed by Hezbollah fighters besieged a rebel-held mountain resort near the border with Lebanon on Saturday under the cover of intense airstrikes by Syria’s air forces, activists and official media outlets reported.

The capture of Zabadani would tighten Hezbollah’s grip on Syrian territories bordering Lebanon and strengthen the Syrian government’s control over of the Beirut-Damascus highway.

Zabadani has been held by rebels since shortly after Syria’s crisis began in March 2011. The conflict has killed more than 220,000 people and wounded at least a million, according to the United Nations. […]