Hezbollah helps Syria re-take strategic town
Beirut (Agencies): Syrian pro-government forces have taken full control of the strategic town of Qusayr, state TV and the rebels said. The town, near...
Beirut (Agencies): Syrian pro-government forces have taken full control of the strategic town of Qusayr, state TV and the rebels said. The town, near the Lebanese border, has been the centre of fighting for more than two weeks between rebels and Syrian troops backed by fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Syrian state TV said that a large number of rebels had died and many had surrendered. The rebels said that they withdrew overnight in the face of a massive assault. Earlier, the military leader of the main rebel umbrella group, the Free Syrian Army, said that his fighters were prepared to take the conflict inside Lebanon in pursuit of Hezbollah fighters. Gen Selim Idriss of the Free Syrian Army - the main umbrella rebel group - told the BBC that Hezbollah fighters were invading Syria and Lebanon was doing nothing to stop them. 'Surprise attack' Qusayr lies just 10km from the Lebanese border and along major supply routes. Syrian pro-government forces, including Hezbollah fighters, have been battling rebels for control of the town for more than two weeks. But on Wednesday, Syria's Sana state news agency said the heroic armed forces have returned security and stability to all of the town. S ana said that a large number of terrorists, as the state refers to the rebels, had been killed and many had surrendered. It said the army was now destroying barricades and weapons caches and searching the town for explosives. The army said that the victory was a clear message to all those who share in the aggression on Syria ... that we will continue our string of victories until we regain every inch of Syrian land. "We will not hesitate to crush with an iron fist those who attack us. ... Their fate is surrender or death," it said. In Lebanon, Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV reported widespread collapse of the rebel forces in the town, while one Hezbollah fighter told Reuters news agency: "We did a sudden surprise attack in the early hours and entered the town. They escaped." Diplomats meet to prepare Syria peace conference Geneva (AFP): US, Russian and UN diplomats gathered in Geneva on Wednesday to plan a new international conference aimed at ending the conflict in Syria, as the regime scored a major victory by taking the strategic town of Qusayr. Joining UN peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi at the table were Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. The meeting, aimed at paving the way for a new peace conference, comes as France and Britain pointed to proof that President Bashar al-Assad's regime had used the deadly nerve agent sarin. A UN probe had also found reasonable grounds to believe both sides had used chemical weapons.
27 Jan 2020 5:00 AM GMT