A rebel fighter fires during clashes with Syrian forces in eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus
A rebel fighter unleashes fire during clashes with Syrian forces in eastern al-Ghouta, near DamascusReuters

Syrian troops loyal to president Bashar al-Assad supported by Shia Hezbollah militia have regained the rebel-held Syrian border town of Rankous following weeks of heavy fighting.

The recapture of Rankous, in the Qalamoun region, deprives the rebels of their last major base in the area and cuts off a former supply line for weapons and fighters from neighbouring Lebanon.

The Qalamoun region is strategically situated between the cities of Damascus and Homs and lies along the border with Lebanon.

Assad forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have been spearheading fighting in the region since November. Syrian state TV announced that Rankous "returns to the nation and is under the control of the Syrian Arab army".

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed "violent clashes" broke out between Hezbollah fighters and al-Nusra and Islamist fighters leading to the death of six fighters outside the perimeter of the town.

Rankous is about 45 Kilometres north of Damascus and was home to 20,000 people before the start of the civil war.

The Observatory also reported that two explosions rocked the central city of Homs in a neighbourhood inhabited by members of Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Syria state news agency said that two car bombs killed 25 people, wounding 107.

An official at the Homs municipality told AP that the blast killed at least six people and wounded several others.