Syrian rebels flee Qusair after Government forces launch fierce assault

syrian rebeslSyrian rebels have fled the town of Qusair after Government forces launched a fierce assault on the town, dealing a crushing blow to the rebels fighting to over throw President Bashar al-Assad.

After two weeks of fierce clashes, rebel forces admit they had retreated from the town. Qusair, which lies on a cross-border supply route with Lebanon was ferociously fought over because of its strategic importance. The town is a gateway to the heartland Assad’s Alawite sect.

“Whoever controls Qusair controls the center of the country, and whoever controls the center of the country controls all of Syria, ” Brigadier General Yahya Suleiman, told reporters.

This conflict for the town marked the deepest participation of Lebanese Hezbollah’s military in Syria’s civil war.

“We did a sudden surprise attack in the early hours and entered the town. They escaped,” one Hezbollah fighter told reporters.

Reports say the Government’s forces had opened route into Debaa and the Lebanese border town of Arsal to allow rebels to leave Qusair.

Residents in southern Beirut, which is a Hezbollah stronghold celebrated with fireworks as news of Qusair’s capture spread.

TV footage on Wednesday showed deserted streets amid the rubble of destroyed buildings. According to a United Nations report, approximately 10,000 people have fled to neighboring towns and 1,500 people are wounded.

Rebel forces had control of the town for over a year but Assad’s forces fought hard to wrest it from them and seize the corridor through the central province of Homs which links Damascus to the coastal heartland of Assad’s minority Alawites.

A Hezbollah TV footage showed a man planting a Syrian flag on the bullet-pocked clock tower in the town’s central square.

“Our heroic armed forces have returned security and stability to all of the town of Qusair,” a statement carried by Syrian state television said.

This victory highlighted the latest military advantage for Assad, who has launched numerous counter-offensives against mainly Sunni Muslim rebels battling to overthrow him and end his family’s four decade rule.

An observer group called, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain, said it was concerned for the fate of 1,200 wounded people in Qusair and urged for immediate access to be granted to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A spokesman for the National Defense Force, fighting for Assad said the military’s focus may shift to the northern province of Aleppo, which has been largely in rebel hands for the past year.

According to reports more than 80,000 people have been killed in the Syria since the conflict started and another 1.6 million Syrians refugees have fled the country.

In addition, this conflict has also fueled sectarian tensions across the Middle East. It has pitted world powers against each other.

Sources say peace June talks planned to take place in Geneva between Syria’s warring parties would most certainly be postponed as Russia announced its intention to ship weaponry to the Assad regime. The Geneva peace talks were conceived to curb violence in Syria.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has expressed concern about Russia’s intention to ship weapons to the Syrian government.

By Perviz Walji

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