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Syrian Troops Recapture Al-Qusair, as Rebels Attribute Victory to Hizbullah's Support


Heavy casualties in fighting over city of Al-Qusair Syrian government forces recapture city of Al-Qusair from the rebels, June 5, 2013
Funeral of a Lebanese Hizbullah fighter, who was killed in fighting against Syrian rebels in the city of Al-Qusair, May 26, 2013 almonitor. Funeral of a Lebanese Hizbullah fighter, who was killed in fighting against Syrian rebels in the city of Al-Qusair, May 26, 2013 almonitor.

Syrian troops recapture strategic city as rebels attribute victory to Hizbullah's support

DAMASCUS, June 5, 2013 (Xinhua) --

The Syrian army on Wednesday scored a sweeping victory against the rebels by stripping them of the strategic central city of Al-Qussair, while opposition leaders to attribute the army's victory to the backing of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.


Earlier on Wednesday, the Syrian troops regained full control of Al-Qussair in Homs province after more than two weeks of " precise" and "qualitative" operation, according to the state-TV.

The Syrian army pushed its way into Al-Qussair located near the border with Lebanon more than two weeks ago after taking control of its suburb following 46 days of battling. The operation aimed at cutting the rebels' main supply line in the central region of the country.

As the army declared victory Wednesday, the rebels reportedly announced their withdrawal from Al-Qussair overnight "after the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters committed a massacre that killed hundreds of people."

The Syrian army, however, dismissed the massacre report and said in a statement that "We assure our people in general and Al-Qussair's citizens in particular that the army troops have evicted the civilians that were used by the rebels as human shields and the wounded people are being treated."

The army, moreover, called on the citizens of Al-Qussair to return to their homes.

Taleb Ibrahim, a political expert, told Xinhua recently that Al- Qussair's importance lies in its location, which is in a mountainous area overlooking Syria's border with Lebanon.

The city's proximity to the Lebanese town of Arsal has made it a main smuggling route of weapons and armed men into Homs, Ibrahim said, adding that regaining control over the city would deprive the armed rebels of their main supply line and would thus deal a heavy blow to their very existence in Homs and central Syria as a whole.

Turki Hasan, another political expert, told Xinhua Wednesday that the retrieval of Al-Qussair by Syrian troops has great significance in restraining military activities of Syrian rebels, adding the rebels lost an important strategic location near the border with Lebanon.

"Al-Qussair is of a special importance in the war against our country for more than two years. Al-Qussair is a border city and thus it has become a center for luring, preparing and arming the terrorists who spread from the city to the provinces of Homs and Hama and to the suburbs of Damascus," Hasan said.

Meanwhile, Salim Harba, a military expert, told Xinhua that the Syrian army entered its a comfortable zone after its victory.


Opposition activists claim that the Hezbollah group is fighting alongside the government troops in al-Qussair as the group is known of being an important ally of the Syrian administration.

They charged that Hezbollah's participation tweaked the balance in favor of the Syrian troops, calling on Hezbollah's leader, Hasan Nasrallah, to withdraw his fighters from Syria.

Salim Idris, the leader of the rebels Free Syrian Army, told the Saudi-funded al-Arabia that around 15,000 Hezbollah fighters are currently fighting alongside the Syrian army nationwide.

Turki Hasan told Xinhua that Hezbollah's involvement was on a very small scale, adding that the victory was won by the Syrian army. He slammed the outcry against Hezbollah and said similar voices were not heard when tens of thousands of foreign radical fighters slipped into Syria and fought against the army.

Last month, Hasan Nasrallah defended his group involvement in the Syrian fight.

"If Syria falls into the hands of America or Israel, ... the people of our region will enter a dark period," he said, adding " If we do not go there to fight them ... they will come here."

Hezbollah previously claimed that its fighters were protecting scores of Lebanese Shiite border towns that were threatened by the radical rebels in Syria.

Syria's opposition charges that the Shiite militant group is helping the Syrian administration, which is controlled by leaders from the Alawite minority of the Shiite Islam, against the Sunni- led insurgency.

On Wednesday, Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said the pan-Arab bloc condemned what he called the military intervention in Syria by Hezbollah.


Arab FMs call for political solution, transitional government for Syria

CAIRO, June 5, 2013 (Xinhua) --

Arab foreign ministers called on Wednesday for a political solution to the Syrian crisis and a transitional government with full executive power for the unrest- torn country.

A resolution issued after a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo said political solution is the only way to rescue Syria, expressing concerns over the impacts of armed conflict on civilians in the country.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministers slammed all foreign interference in the Syrian conflict, particularly that of the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group, in a joint statement issued after the meeting.

The Arab League's remarks came against the backdrop of the Syrian army's recent recapture of the central city of al-Qussair, where the opposition fighters attributed the army's victory to the backing of Hezbollah.

The resolution reiterated the recent Arab vision on resolving the Syrian crisis, which urged the "formation of a transitional government" to pave the way for a "peaceful transition of power."

"The interim government will enjoy full executive power, including that over the armed forces and the security institutions, " the resolution pointed out, citing the Arab vision that would be presented to the upcoming Geneva conference on Syria.

The vision, prepared by an Arab Ministerial Committee, also calls for politically resolving the Syrian crisis in a way that preserves the structure of Syria, the unity of its people as well as the regional security.

"There is no place in new Syria for leaders whose hands have been stained in the ongoing bloodshed," Egyptian foreign minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, who presided the meeting said.

Amr warned against a collapse of the Syrian state which would portend serious impacts on the Arab, regional and international security.

The Egyptian foreign minister also reiterated Egypt's rejection of any foreign intervention in the Syrian affairs, warning against foreign militants who have recently engaged in fighting in the country.

The meeting discussed the latest developments of the Syrian issue and the preparations for the Geneva conference on Syria.

"Our meeting today comes after the recent Russian-U.S. understanding to activate the first Geneva document on Syria through the Geneva II conference, which greatly conforms with the initiative presented by Egypt," Amr told other Arab foreign ministers.

He added that forthcoming Geneva conference will produce "a time table for the transition period" to prevent any party from using the occasion to gain more time, adding the meeting "maybe the last chance for reaching a political solution for the situation in Syria."

Meanwhile, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi stressed the importance to continue the efforts to hold the Geneva conference on Syria, adding that a preparatory meeting will be held by the end of June.

"Syria is witnessing war crimes on its soils, and all those committed such crimes should be referred to the international Justice court," Arabi said at a press conference following the meeting, but he didn't specify when.

The Arab League chief added the fate of the President Bashar al- Assad will be discussed by Syrians, but the future transitional authority will have all the powers over the country's institutions without Assad interference.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

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