Activists say Syrian troops backed by fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group are clashing with rebels near a strategic town captured by government forces earlier this week.

Government troops were chasing rebels who fled the strategic town of Qusair, near the border with Lebanon, and pressing to drive the rebels out of Syria's central heartland.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported intense fighting Saturday on the edges of al-Buweida village north of Qusair. The government recaptured Qusair Wednesday and took two nearby two villages since.

Abu Bilal al-Homsi, an activist in the central Syrian city of Homs who has links with several rebel groups, said through Skype that rebels sustained heavy losses late Friday as they attempted to flee the village with their wounded and civilians.