Thirty Hezbollah fighters killed in Syrian town: activists

AMMAN Mon May 20, 2013 7:30am EDT

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AMMAN (Reuters) - About 30 fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and 20 Syrian soldiers and militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad were killed in heavy fighting with rebels in the town of Qusair, Syrian activists said on Monday.

Opposition sources and state media gave sharply differing accounts of the outcome of Sunday's ferocious battles in the town, long used by rebels as a supply route from the nearby Lebanese border to the provincial capital Homs.

The assault on Qusair appeared to be part of a campaign by Assad's forces to consolidate their grip on Damascus and secure links between the capital and the government strongholds on the coast via the contested central city of Homs.

State news agency SANA said the army had "restored security and stability to most Qusair neighborhoods" and was "chasing the remnants of the terrorists in the northern district".

However, opposition activists said rebels in Qusair, about 10 km (six miles) from the Lebanese border, had pushed back most of the attacking forces to their original positions in the east of the town and to the south on Sunday, destroying at least four Syrian army tanks and five light Hezbollah vehicles.

The activists did not give a figure for the number of rebel fighters and civilians killed in the clashes. The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 48 rebels had been killed, as well as four civilians, three of them women.

The Observatory's director, Rahim Abdurahman, put Hezbollah casualties at 23 dead and 70 wounded. Lebanese security sources said at least 12 Hezbollah fighters had been killed.

Tareq Murei, a local activist, said troops backed by Hezbollah had "made incursions into Qusair but they are now basically back to where they started at the security compounds in east Qusair and at a ... roadblock to the south."

"Hezbollah's multiple rocket-launchers are now hitting Qusair from Syrian territory west of the Orontes river, along with Syrian army artillery. Six people have been killed since the morning," he told Reuters on Monday.

Video footage purportedly showed a Syrian tank at a street corner in the town on fire. In another video a warplane was shown flying over the town amid the sound of explosions.

Syrian government restrictions on access for independent media make it hard to verify such videos and accounts.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (6)
FRPSR wrote:
The stalemate makes for interesting fictions . The probabilities are narrowing into a tri state Syria ?

May 20, 2013 5:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
mcanterel wrote:
Reuters trying to frame it as a Hezballah operation : you guys are laughable!
Assuming that was true, every one of your reports on this town mentions that it is important to rebels because of the supply line to Lebanon, IN MAN AND ARMS. So , why don’t you title your articles with: Hariri militias fight government forces in Syria ….

Anyway, it is pretty clear that this Khaled Oweis is somehow desperately trying to deflect from the main news, despairing to him, about the legitimate army of my country blasting the traitors-terrorists out of Qusseir!

We all in Syria pray Alep is next. We all pray the Syrian Army will trash every cannibal in this so called “rebellion” which is really nothing but a Saudi and Qatari butchers’ coup attempt.

May 20, 2013 7:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ArribaJuarez wrote:
Is a “Syrian rebel activist” the same thing as an Islamic terrorist?

May 20, 2013 8:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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