Syrian troops backed by fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Sunday launched an assault to oust rebels from the foothills of the Qalamoun mountains north of the capital, state television said.

Regime forces took parts of the strategic Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon in April, but some 2,000 rebel fighters withdrew to the hills, from where they have launched guerrilla attacks.

Fourteen fighters from the powerful Shiite Hezbollah group have been killed in the area over the past two weeks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. […]