Assad forces overrun Qusair



Agence France Presse

Published — Wednesday 5 June 2013

Last update 13 June 2013 9:42 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

DAMASCUS: Syria’s army has overrun the strategic town of Qusair, state media said on Wednesday, after a blistering offensive spearheaded by thousands of fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.
Such a major battlefield success for President Bashar Assad’s forces, if confirmed, would come as officials from Russia, the US and the UN gathered in Geneva to work on a peace conference amid fresh allegations that the Damascus regime has used chemical weapons.
“The Syrian army totally controls the Qusair region in Homs province after killing a large number of terrorists and capturing others,” state television report said, using the regime’s terminology for the rebels.
Official news agency Sana said the army had “reestablished total security in the town of Qusair,” while Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television, which has a correspondent on the ground, said the rebels had fled the region.
Assad forces and Hezbollah fighters launched an offensive to retake the Qusair region on the Lebanese border, on May 19.
Rebels fighting to retain control of the town, only some 10 kilometers (six miles) from the frontier, were later joined by hundreds of reinforcements from Lebanon, most close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
That lead to pitched battles in which civilians, many of them wounded, became trapped.
Doctors had appealed for the Red Cross to be allowed in to treat the wounded, but Syrian officials said this would only be permitted once the rebels had been defeated.
Civilians who had managed to flee Qusair described it as “a ghost town, heavily damaged and filled with the sound of bombs,” the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday.
Those who had escaped were mainly women and children, because men risked being killed at checkpoints, said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.
Control of Qusair is vital for the rebels as it is their principal transit point for weapons and fighters from Lebanon.
It is also strategic for the regime because it is located on the road linking Damascus with the coast, its rear base.
On the diplomatic front, officials meeting in Geneva hope to hammer out terms to get Assad’s camp and the rebels to negotiate directly for the first time.
The meeting comes a day after France said it had proof that Assad’s regime had used the deadly nerve agent sarin gas in Syria’s civil war.
Earlier, a UN report said there were “reasonable grounds” to believe that both sides in Syria had used chemical weapons.
However, Washington said it needed more evidence before concluding that sarin had been used.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 2 television: “We have no doubt that the gas is being used. The conclusion of the laboratory is clear: there is sarin gas.”
Experts had analyzed samples brought back from Syria, he said. They had sent their results to United Nations experts investigating the issue.
Earlier, Fabius had said in a statement: “France is now certain that sarin gas has been used in Syria several times and in a localized fashion.”
It did not say who had used the gas, but in a televised interview later, Fabius said that in at least one case, there was “no doubt that it was the regime and its accomplices.”
“A line has been indisputably breached... We must react, but at the same time we must not block an eventual peace conference,” he added.
Washington and Moscow are trying to get the regime and opposition together to negotiate a way out of the war, which has cost more than 94,000 lives in 26 months of fighting.
But a tentative date for the conference, initially planned for early June, has slipped back into July amid wrangling over the exact guest list and agenda.
The White House reacted cautiously to the latest allegations of chemical warfare: they wanted to know more before concluding such weapons had been used.
“We need to expand the evidence we have... before we make any decision,” said spokesman Jay Carney. President Barack Obama has said that the use of the deadly nerve agent would be a “game-changer” for Washington.
In Geneva, the Commission of Inquiry on Syria said on Tuesday that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that chemical agents have been used as weapons.”
It was the first time it had made such an allegation.
Most of the incidents concerned their use by government forces, it said in its report to the UN Human Rights Council.
“The conflict in Syria has reached new levels of brutality,” it added.
Government forces and their militia had committed “murder, torture, rape... and other inhumane acts” against civilians.
Rebel groups had also committed war crimes including murder, torture, hostage-taking and pillage, but on a lesser scale, it said.
It called on Syria to let UN investigators in to check for the possible use of chemical weapons, something the regime has so far refused.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) has encouraged businessmen to invest in tourism villages in Asir region.“Tourism villages are considered to be one of the most attractive options in the province,” said Mohammad A...
RIYADH: The General Presidency for Youth Welfare (GPYW) has taken part in serving pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques as part of the organization’s voluntary and humanitarian work. In his statement, the head of the Riyadh office, Abdulrahma...
RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Bandar, governor of Riyadh, opened on Wednesday 20 environmentally friendly entertainment projects with a total area of more than 270,000 sq. meters. Among interesting features of these new parks are replicas of the Eiffel T...
JEDDAH: Children and youths afflicted with cancer in the Eastern Province have launched a campaign against terrorist attacks. The patients, their families and doctors have slammed the attacks, which saw many killed and injured, a local publication re...
RIYADH: The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) is a major player when it comes to relief work in countries wrecked by human tragedies, Secretary-General Saleh Al-Wohaibi said on Tuesday.He was addressing some 700 guests at the 13th annual iftar pa...
JEDDAH: The General Committee for the Municipal Elections has issued new regulations to oversee the polls, which will be taking place on Dec. 12, 2015.The rules released on Monday spelled out requirements for council members, list of violations and a...
JEDDAH: The Martyrs Fund has announced that it disburses 75 percent of its annual revenues to helping the needy families of martyrs, the wounded, prisoners of war and missing persons.Approximately 25 percent of the revenues is allocated for further i...
RIYADH: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holdings, has announced that his entire $32 billion fortune would be donated to charity after his death.The prince told reporters at his offices in Riyadh on Wednesday that he would move his asse...
MADINAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman arrived in Madinah on Tuesday accompanied by several princes and senior officials for his first visit since ascending the throne. He was met at the airport by Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salma...
JEDDAH: The Council of Ministers has condemned the terrorist attacks in Kuwait, France, Tunisia and Egypt over the past few days.At its weekly meeting chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Monday night, the Cabinet said that the...
JEDDAH: The father of the suicide bomber who blew himself up in a mosque in Kuwait has blamed “evil” forces for his son’s behavior.Sounding confused and sad, Sulaiman Al-Gabbaa, the father of Fahad Al-Gabbaa, said: “An evil hand has sent my son to hi...
JEDDAH: The Saudi Traffic Department has denied that it is introducing new license plates for cars.It said hackers posted pictures of the supposedly new license plates on its Twitter account on Sunday. The department said the news, which went viral,...
JEDDAH: The Al-Haramain Train project is described as the largest public transportation project in the Middle East. This vital and strategic project is one of the implementation schemes of the mass expansion of the Saudi railway across the country.Th...
JEDDAH: The number of marriages between expatriates and Saudis has dropped 84 percent to 1,928 since the start of this Islamic year that began on Oct. 24, compared to the same period the previous year.The Ministry of Justice said that there were 12,0...
JEDDAH: The General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) launched the idea of a project called Watani to link all parts of the Kingdom by air by beefing up activities at important provincial airports.Capt. Abdul Hakim Badar, assistant vice president a...

Stay Connected

Facebook