- Big milestone for Britain’s little Prince George who turns 1
- Murphy: Israel must be wary of Hamas using civilian deaths for recruitment
- Royce: Putin recruiting ‘every skinhead and malcontent around Russia’
- Nancy Pelosi is adamant: Congress worked together when Bush was president
- ‘Slender Man’ stabbing victim receives Purple Heart from anonymous veteran
- Kentucky city called socialist for buying gas station, undercutting competitor fuel prices
- Israel hits five mosques, sports complex in overnight Gaza strikes
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters’ questions on book tour
- EPA tweet baffles: ‘I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ iPhone game
- Australian P.M. Abbott: MH17 evidence tampered with on ‘industrial scale’
Assad forces, Hezbollah retake Qusair, head for Aleppo in Syria
Question of the Day
Regime allies say Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces will likely try to recapture the rebel stronghold of Aleppo, the country’s largest city and economic hub.
Rebel leaders threatened to retaliate against Hezbollah on its home territory, sparking fears that spillover from Syria’s two year-old conflict is worsening and will feed sectarian violence and political instability in Lebanon and Iraq.
Overnight, rebels and residents in Qusair fled the besieged town, and TV stations showed government forces entering the apparently deserted townWednesday.
“Yes, dear brethren, this is a battle that we lost, but the war is not over yet,” said the Homs Revolution News, which is associated with the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist network, according to CNN.
Reuters news agency reported that rebel militias trying to hold the town, which had been in their hands for a year, had lost 500 men — more than half their forces.
After holding out for seven weeks, the remaining 400 fighters withdrew with an unknown number of civilians through a corridor that government forces had advertised as a safe passage for anyone wanting to leave Qusair.
Control of the city not only blocks an important resupply route for the rebels but also gives the government control of a vital corridor through the central province of Homs, which links Damascus to the coastal heartland of Mr. Assad’s minority Alawite sect, a branch of Shiite Islam.
The fate of 1,500 injured people who the Red Cross said were trapped in the town was unknown Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Syrian opposition leaders in recent days have warned that pro-regime militias might commit massacres and other war crimes if the military were to retake Qusair.
A senior Lebanese political source close to Hezbollah told Reuters the group would continue to “indirectly” aid the Syrian military, saying Mr. Assad’s forces would move on to retake the rebel stronghold and Syria’s commercial capital Aleppo.
“The battle will continue in all regions, but I believe Aleppo [will be] first,” the source said.
Underlining the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict, CNN screened a YouTube video Wednesday showing what the poster said were rebel fighters from the Free Syrian Army launching rockets at two Shiite villages near Aleppo.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA), like most rebel militias, is overwhelmingly drawn from the ranks of the Sunni Muslim tradition.
Last week, the group’s leader, Brig. Gen. Salim Idris, asked the public to “excuse [the] FSA” for any retaliation if Qusair falls.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
- Senator's memo shows Iran links in Homeland Security's troubled immigration program
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- Dems back bill to fix problems in investor visa program
- Democrats proceed with Mayorkas vote despite pending investigation
- NSA monitored 'World of Warcraft' players
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters' questions on book tour
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq