Syrian government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies captured the rebel stronghold of Qusayr after nearly seven weeks of fighting, dealing a serious blow to the rebel’s bid to oust the Assad regime.
Syrian state-run media lauded an offensive “that led to the annihilation of a number of terrorists,” the government’s term for rebels.
“Our heroic armed forces are always determined to confront any aggression that our beloved homeland may face in the future,” an anchor on Syrian state TV said.
“Yes, dear brethren, this is a battle that we lost, but the war is not over yet,” said the Homs Revolution News, an opposition activist network.
According to reports, Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese Shiite militia backed by Iran and the Syrian government, was instrumental in the capture of Qusayr.
Eleven of the regime’s forces were killed and 25 others were injured in the Qusayr fighting overnight and on Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There were also reports of deaths among Hezbollah fighters.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that more than 1,000 civilians in Qusayr were injured in the fighting.
France claims that Hezbollah sent as many as 4,000 fighters to Syria to aid al-Assad’s forces. The Lebanese militants “produced major results,” particularly in the battle for Qusayr, said Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.
The United States government condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the takeover of Qusayr, White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby condemned the Hezbollah intervention in Syria, and also expressed frustration with the situation.
“You could say the Arab League has not succeeded to stop the conflict. But also the United Nations — with all its powers — could not do anything!” he said. “The international community has not succeeded in stopping the violence or the humanitarian catastrophe which the Syrian people are experiencing.” (Image/CNN)