BEIRUT -- A Syrian rebel group said Saturday a ceasefire was over between insurgents and the Syrian army and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in a town near the Lebanese border and two villages in the northwest. Ahmed Qara Ali, a representative of the Ahrar al-Sham insurgent group, said rebel groups had begun to escalate military operations after the collapse of negotiations between the warring sides brokered by Turkey and Iran.
There was no immediate word from Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite group backed by Iran, or the Syrian military. Ahrar al-Sham had been leading the negotiations on behalf of the insurgents.
The ceasefire had held since Wednesday morning in the town of Al-Zabadani near the Lebanese border and the Shiite villages of Kefraya and al-Foua in the northwestern province of Idlib. Al-Zabadani has been the focus of a weeks-long offensive by Hezbollah and the army against insurgent groups holed up inside.
Insurgent groups had in turn launched a parallel attack on the two villages. Insurgent shelling of the two villages early Wednesday killed a child and wounded 12 more people, state TV reported.
Sources on both sides had said talks had been aimed at securing a withdrawal of rebel fighters from Al-Zabadani and a withdrawal of citizens from the two villages.
Qara Ali said: "The reason it has collapsed is we wanted the release of 40,000 prisoners, and the Iranians rejected it."
A rebel fighter in Al-Zabadani said army warplanes were flying over the town.
(Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Angus MacSwan)